Mr. Rogers in the Boardroom? You Bet!

The Boardroom was the U.S. Senate Committee Hearing in 1969 as Chairman John Pastore was investigating whether to pass a $20 million funding bill to PBS. And he was losing his patience as PBS was losing the verbal battle—until Mr. Rogers stepped in. You know him—Fred Rogers, PBS star and now the mild-mannered hero of the excellent documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

It’s worth the time to watch the 6’ drama unfold here.

Speakers who got up before Mr. Rogers read scripts and shared what was on a piece of paper. The decision-maker, Senator Pastore, showed his disdain and was sick of hearing written words. Mr. Rogers adapted and spoke from the heart. Incredible impact—his eye communication, his passion, his voice, pauses and his overall authenticity were so powerful. As he ended, Senator Pastore immediately replied, “I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I’ve had goosebumps for the last two days,” he said. “Looks like you just earned the $20 million.”

In our coaching and consulting at Decker, we find that so many leaders and executives that we work with are tied to words, reading, teleprompters and scripts. They think, “If I say the words, people will get them.” It doesn’t really work that way. Our challenge as coaches is to encourage them to speak from their ideas and from their hearts, as long as the point comes through. Certain media or investor regulation opportunities make that seem unrealistic, but for the most part, it’s not only doable but more effective.

How often at a conference, a QBR or a team meeting where there are multiple speakers, do you get sick of the formality of the prepared speech? If we were all like Senator Pastore in 1969, I think more of us would call it out and push back to demand a change in how others present to us. The key question is, are you willing to be more like Mr. Rogers and let go of the prepared words and speak from the heart to get the influence you want? People buy on emotion and justify with fact!

You can see many examples of that from this year’s highest grossing biographical documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Quick disclaimer: I’m a child of the 70s and a big fan, so Mr. Rogers was a big part of my childhood. But for everyone, the film is definitely worth seeing—entertaining, dramatic and historical. You will come to know a Fred Rogers you have never seen before.

And we have a hunch that he will move your heart and help you move the hearts of your audiences.

Stinkin’ Thinkin’: Change Our Communication Perceptions

Jerry Seinfeld once famously said, “If you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than giving the eulogy.” Although meant as a joke, this quote resonates with a lot of us who say we are “terrified” of communicating in front of others. Our fears are not commensurate … Continue reading

Smile With Your Eyes

As Guy Kawasaki says, don’t be afraid of the crow’s feet. That’s right, the most sincere smile is a Duchenne smile (named for French neurologist Guillaume Duchenne) that lights up your eyes and shows off your pearly whites. Guy is a powerful influencer and speaker – and his Duchenne smile … Continue reading

Top 10 Communication Moments of 2017

Communication drives moments, and moments matter. When we experience something bold, it jolts us to action, leaves a measured impact, ignites a collective memory, or empowers the afraid. These are the moments that punctuated 2017. These are the moments that changed the way we think or inspired us to act. … Continue reading

Moderating A Panel: 3 Tips

Being asked to moderate a panel is an honor—but no one will tell you it’s easy! If you get selected to moderate an upcoming panel, here are three tips that will help you prepare: Being the facilitator of a panel is a huge responsibility. It’s on you to create a great experience and keep … Continue reading

Speaking On A Panel: 3 Tips

So, you’ve been asked to speak on a panel—what now? Whether you like to prepare a lot (or not at all), here are three things to think about that will help ensure success at your next panel. When you’re on a panel, it should feel like a casual conversation between you … Continue reading

Pope Francis On Humility

“Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.” –Pope Francis, Ted Talk … Continue reading

Less Can Be More

A few weeks ago, this video stood out to me because of Cameron Smith’s reaction to he and Jonas Blixt’s win at the 2017 Zurich Classic. He said nothing—yet he said so much. It’s the power of raw emotion. It’s amazing how many leaders we work with who put up … Continue reading

Does That Make Sense?

As a Program Leader and senior manager on our program development team, I love staying in touch with past participants and helping them continue to use the Decker tools they’ve learned in the ‘real world.’ Recently, we received the following question: I recently noticed that many speakers continually say to … Continue reading

Iron Sharpens Iron

News flash! Ignorance is not bliss. It’s amazing how many companies, organizations and teams there are these days that don’t give each other feedback. Feedback is critical to being a better communicator. Too often, leaders don’t take the time to ask for feedback and they never get better. But iron … Continue reading