Three learnings from a conversation at The Next Web

When it comes to being a great communicator and leading people then the three most desirable traits are to first have an authentic voice, second to make an emotional connection and finally to build trust.

These three key traits arose from a great conversation I had the fortune to be having at The Next Web last week here in Amsterdam.

It was an amazing table of individuals who had such a variety of experience and skills. Here is some of what we shared with each other:

Having an Authentic Voice is Key

Winston Churchill once said that “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

As a leader you need to be willing to share your passion, show your emotions, and the reason why the task at hand drives you.

Don’t be scared show your vulnerability, your struggle. This is what makes people connect and trust that the story you are telling is true.

We also spoke about how clarity is important to being authentic. Sometimes if the message isn’t conveyed in an honest, clear, and open way then people don’t feel it’s authentic.

Using communication structures such as the Pyramid Principle and the Heroes Journey can help you communicate more clearly.

Make an emotional connection first

Your job as a leader is to tell the ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ story. Paint a picture of the future place the company or team or department is trying to get to.

This story then becomes a ‘North Star’ for deciding what to do with all your resources (money and time).

For the North Star story to resonate it needs to be a story that is told in a believable way that doesn’t scare people, because we don’t like change.

For the above to happen then you also need to appreciate that if all the teams around you don’t work towards making this story come true then it’s all for nothing.

So how do you do this? Making an emotional connection with the people is key. One of the best ways to do that is by using something called the 3 Nested Narratives which was developed by Marshall Ganz.

It’s based on the premise that all people are different. We all are. None of us really fit into these moulds that marketing departments think we fit into.

So until you can tell the North Star story you need to take the time to understand the individual stories in your team.

What makes people come into work each day (beyond money) and how do all those stories blend into a shared identity of what it means to be an employee of your company? Only once those two steps are done can you move onto the North Star story.

Building trust is key if you want people to act

Your reputation proceeds you. If you don’t deliver on the small promises, the small stories then it will make it really hard for people to jump in the boat with you for the North Star Story.

In all our working life, the main asset we are always trying to build is trust. This is especially true when it comes to leadership communication.

Consistency is KING.

If we look at the above thinking it also matches how people make a decision. First someone needs to connect on an emotional level to the idea, story or mission etc. They have to want to get to the place in the future described in the story.

Second, they need to trust the storyteller that the story can come true. The storyteller needs to provide evidence ontop of his or her existing reputation to do this.

We can summarise this as EMOTION + TRUST = DECISION

And Finally….

I know, I said three things. Well, this is also important to mention. We also spoke a lot about the word ‘Community’ and how it’s important for all aspects of communication today, both internally and externally.

It builds connection.

It builds trust.

It drives action.

These days on social media, the brands who enable fans and followers to connect with each other on their platforms, and to tell their Brand story for them (scary yes, powerful for sure!) tend to build a vibrant and active group of people and ultimately drive action.

Same goes for internal communication. Build connection. Build a family community. Be the enabler, the protector, the facilitator. It can be very powerful.


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