Jeff Henderson was once named by Forbes as one of the “twenty speakers you shouldn’t miss” - his background is in communication and he’s helped a range of organisations and high profile individuals level up their communication skills.
Perhaps, one of his most significant concepts is the way he breaks down the “4 voices of a communicator.”
Put simply, Henderson believes that these four voices, or different styles each have one particular strength, and one particular weakness. By knowing which one applies to you, it becomes easier to play to your strengths and address any weaknesses - ultimately, becoming a better communicator.
The Teacher’s strength is all things content. A Teacher knows exactly why their message is important, perhaps a Teacher is explaining to students why revision is necessary in the run up to exams, covering great reasons from the ability to open doors in the future, to lowering anxiety in exams themselves. The struggle though, is connecting with your audience. The students aren’t necessarily hearing all those great reasons to revise, instead, what they’re hearing is “you need to revise”.
Connecting with the audience, and giving them a reason to listen in the first 5 minutes is key. Maybe take a step back, and before bringing everyone into your logic, ask a question, “how are you feeling about the upcoming exams, are you anxious? Maybe I can help and let’s take a look at some revision strategies.” A Teacher sometimes overlooks this connection, because they are so passionate about the content. Connecting with the audience though - gives them a reason to listen in the first 5 minutes.
The Motivator is the complete opposite of The Teacher, your connection is almost instant. They are charismatic people, everyone connects quickly and the audience is keen to listen - but where a Motivator is limited, is in what they say. A Motivator should ask themselves the question, “why should I listen to this content” and take some time to plan what they might say - perhaps listing a few key points to stay on course.
Visionaries have a kind of awe-inducing approach to communication. They are great at the big idea and vision, telling people how they can change the world - or perhaps a great and radical new approach to school education. They can get people excited, and onboard for that vision, nut their weakness is in the details. After these talks, people are often left in a state where they know the vision - but don’t know how to achieve it.
Big ideas, don’t need to be fully spelt out, but there does have to be a roadmap, something along the lines of “our approach is…”. If a Visionary doesn’t incorporate this, people become skeptical of the vision and this becomes detrimental to the Visionary’s core strength.
Storytellers poses a natural ability to tell engaging stories and capture an audience, but their weakness is in its purpose. People don’t understand “why” the story was told, and so the conversation or talk becomes irrelevant. An easy way to overcome this pitfall is to incorporate the line, “the reason I am telling you this story is because it applies to xyz”. This helps a Storyteller stay on track, capturing both the audience - and achieving a purpose.
If you’re not sure which Communicator Style you might fall into, our advice would be to ask someone who’s seen you talk. Playing to your strengths, and being weary of any struggles will help you to overcome common hurdles in effective communication.