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Clarity + Confidence = Leadership

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY) ended his daily Coronavirus briefings last week. For many, this marks the end of a chapter, where the daily briefings connected individuals to data and information on the state of their world beyond their Safer@Home orders. Friends and clients are sharing a sense of sadness at the briefings going away, similar to the end of the school year or camp: necessary, anticipated, but sad and a little anxiety-filled, not knowing exactly what comes next.

Governor Cuomo, for almost 100 days, connected with his audience to provide data, comfort, and information in a situation that was often confusing and lacked clarity. Regardless of your politics, if you were seeking focus and continuity, the daily briefings delivered.

What was it about his presentations that worked so well? Since March, I have been thinking about writing this newsletter. There was something the struck me early on about the structure of the Governor’s briefings in terms of presentation skills that could translate to how we present to prospects, clients, and stakeholders.

  1. Connect with your audience. The briefings focused on the information I needed to know: indicators of what was happening in key communities and throughout the state. Even as a non- resident, it was a barometer against which I could gauge what was going on in my city.

  2. Speak their language. The language used was relatable; easy to understand and clearly explained concepts and terms. No matter my background, I could understand what was being presented to me, and I didn’t feel talked down to or over-scienced.

  3. What changed? Each day, the slides were consistent. I could see what changed from yesterday and over time in easily digestible charts, graphs, and metrics.

  4. Share your vulnerability. This situation was completely unknown and I found the Governor’s willingness to share his vulnerability and say ‘I Don’t Know’ comforting. I wanted his authenticity more than I needed answers.

  5. Share the spotlight. When he presented, Mr. Cuomo often deferred to the team he shared the dais with. And when a question required a new chart or slide, it was then incorporated into future briefings. This was real-time iteration to meet the needs of the audience.

As you think about how to create presentations, business reviews, and client updates in the future, can you take these same lessons and incorporate them? Show where we were, where we are now, and where were are going. Speak in language that allows your audience to fully digest what you are presenting. Incorporate your team as you share information, expertise, and answer questions. And be brave to acknowledge questions you cannot answer on the spot, but be sure to follow up accordingly.

Thank you Governor Cuomo for being an inspiring presenter during a challenging time and for teaching me the lessons of leading with clarity and direct communication.

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