How visionary leaders talk | Noah Zandan



I've got a vision for you in the future every story you tell can have an impact every idea you share can influence people every vision you spread can move your audience to take action you guys believe me probably not but let me explain I'm a data scientist I use software and data to analyze communications to help people connect with their audiences I've been doing this for years but it's actually not how my career started I began my career by running quantitative analysis on Wall Street we had piles of data and my job was to sift through every number I could get my hands on so we can make billion dollar deals work over time I started to notice that there was a missing factor from our model the concept actually seemed pretty simple if the leaders of these companies were able to effectively communicate their vision the deals got done but for that how leaders communicate vision we didn't have any data I'm a numbers guy so I didn't understand why so I started working on a way to analyze it spent the first two years building a massive database of people's communications millions of pieces of text audio and video everything we could scrape together and then we went out and we asked thousands of audiences why they liked trust engage with and believe in certain types of people leaders and messages what we know is that so much of what we communicate is delivered and received unconsciously I'm talking about our body language our vocal patterns our pronouns we aren't conscious of this stuff but it has a huge influence on how we impact an audience what's exciting and new here is we can use technology like natural language processing phonetic analysis and facial and gesture recognition to make sense of these unconscious signals and give people conscious knowledge of them and with that you can make them much more effective communicators we can also identify groups of impressive communicators the best CEOs the most trustworthy politicians if such a thing exists so we ran our analysis on the world's top visionaries we built a data set we started with everybody from FDR to MLK the Wright brothers Amelia Earhart TED Talks on innovation global thought leaders inventors and dreamers and then we ran this analysis scale comparing hundreds of their transcripts all the language that the topics the phrases and even the specific words against a benchmark of everyday communicators what we were trying to do is discover what these people do differently and what we found is that the world's top visionaries communicate three things in common but it wasn't what we expected I obviously expected the top visionaries would talk about the future they would create this vivid picture of a future world with all these amazing new benefits but in reality they talk about the present the most distinguishing factor by almost 2x is how much they use the present tense 15% more they communicate 15% more about today and 14% less about tomorrow versus the average communicator so here how someone would say it we will achieve these results versus we plan to achieve these results and when you say it the second way it's an its implied that you're going to follow that with how our data shows that it's this nuance that makes all the difference for your audience it makes the vision credible believable and actionable so let's look at how well-known visionary does this let's take a look at Elon Musk his visions are startling hyper looping from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes the guy wants to die on Mars but not on impact but the way he taught but the way he talks about this stuff read this quote the question is how do you accelerate the advent of electric transport in order to do that for cars you have to come up with a really energy efficient car so that means making it incredibly light he's not out there talking about some George Jetson hovercraft he's bringing his vision to now and we believe him as a visionary because his ideas can be implemented now so let's look at the linguistic data on Elon here's a transcript where I've faded out it's called the future of energy and transport what I've done here has highlighted his present tense in yellow and his future tense in green when Elon Musk communicates and we've looked at him over 40 times over the last five years he uses four times as much present tense versus future tense as compared to the average communicator he's always talking about now the second distinguishing factor we found about how visionaries talk is that they're not highly complex or theoretical in fact the world's top visionaries communicate 20% more clearly than the average communicator how do you measure clarity it's fewer syllables per word it's fewer words per sentence it's a really clear topical cause and effect so imagine a CEO says something like over the next three quarters through cost-cutting efficiencies and improve synergies we will improve our results by approximately 10 to 15% or over the next three quarters through three methods we will improve our results by twelve and a half percent there's a drastic difference so let's look at how well went on visionary does this take Sheryl Sandberg at a recent commencement address she said believing in yourself was part of what got you to this special day continue to believe in yourselves don't let anyone put limits on you don't put limits on yourself Sheryl Sandberg communicates 85% more clearly than the average CEO people connect with her they believed with her because her because of the way that she communicates she's actually one of the clearest communicators we've ever measured the third distinguishing factor we found about visionaries is we thought they would be power driven and hypothetical but in fact when visionaries talk they use sixty percent more second person pronouns like you and your and there's something else they use 38% more perceptor e-language how things sense touch and feel so a CEO could say something like in the future connected home will have great benefits but a visionary leader would say connected homes will have benefits for you but make your bed warm when you crawl into it at night there'll be a warm cup of coffee that you're excited to drink when you wake up feeling fresh in the morning it's a drastic difference they bring you into the experience a good example here is Richard Brandt it Richard Branson when talking about space will say things like when the rocket stops you will be in space there will be complete silence you will unbuckle and you will float around as you gently lift up and hit the roof he brings you into the spacecraft with him and that's why you can experience it and that's why you believe his vision so what do we learn from all this well our data shows that once you have a clear vision the hard work has really just started you've got to communicate it in a way that focuses it on the present uses clear and simple language and let and brings your audience into that vision and if you do that you can inspire anyone because we all want to hear vision and we all want our visions to be heard what's exciting is with data we now know how thank you

Maurice Vega

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