From the editor

From the editor

Natasha Spring

I’ve been reflecting on what I learned from an incredible speaker I heard at IABC’s International Conference in June. In fact, I can say without a doubt that he was the most impressive speaker I’ve ever heard. It’s likely that anyone out there who attended TJ Larkin’s presentation at the IABC Research Foundation luncheon will have similar thoughts. Larkin’s presentation was most amazing not for the knowledge that it imparted but for the perspective it provided. I know that I won’t be able to articulate it properly, but I’ll try.

While leaders feel that they must make lofty statements to impress stakeholders, it is communicators who find themselves in the position of interpreting that sometimes convoluted message to their audience. (I should point out that Larkin used much stronger language to describe what I’m calling a “convoluted message”!) How often have you sat in a meeting listening to top leadership talk about their vision and thought–now be honest–that it was all just nonsense? Perhaps you wished in your heart of hearts that you could just tell them that, but perhaps you also saw your last paycheck in the corner of your eye. Larkin’s discussion emphasized for me something that I’ve known for a long time: It’s not what you say that counts; it’s what you do. And therein lies the simplicity.

No amount of positioning or repositioning can really mask a bad situation, and rhetoric alone will never inspire others–at least not for long. The day after I heard Larkin, I found further inspiration in remarks made by Hewlett-Packard’s Mark Hurd. Now there’s a man who is in a tough spot. You have to have respect for the fact that he is maneuvering in an environment where restructuring is pending and, in the eyes of many, there’s almost nothing he can say that will make things right. I talked with him briefly after his presentation and found a man who was doing his best to be as honest and candid as he could be in the face of some difficult realities. He offered a message that was simple and clear. It’s that simplicity that strikes to the heart of an organization’s ability to move past the worst of times to be the best that it can be. Other leaders can only watch and learn.

Natasha Spring

Executive Editor

COPYRIGHT 2005 International Association of Business Communicators

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