Tuesday Morning Book Review || The Power of Communication

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is The Power of Communication: The Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively (kindle version) by Helio Fred Garcia, a consultant and professor at New York University.

When it comes to books that apply to preaching, this was one of the more fascinating ones. While not a book geared towards preachers, the applications from this book are incredibly clear.

Garcia takes principles from the U.S. Marine Corps’ legendary publication Warfighting, showing how to apply the Corps’ proven leadership and strategy doctrine to all forms of public communication — and achieve truly extraordinary results. What follows in the book are incredibly insights for preachers.

What I most appreciated about the book was the idea how communication (or preaching) is about persuasion, changing ideas, changing someone, world views and moving people in a certain direction. Garcia said, “The only reason to engage an audience is to change something, to provoke a reaction. Effective communication provokes the desired reaction; ineffective communication doesn’t.” I think too many pastors don’t preach to see change, to see someone change direction in life, change their thinking, they just preach to get information across. That’s not the goal of the gospel. The goal is changing someone. That’s The power of communication. 

How does that happen? Garcia gives 3 things:

  1. Logos: reasoning, logical argument, empirical evidence, rational explanation, and facts.
  2. Ethos: an element of personal character, identity, or personal attributes; the characteristic spirit and prevalent tone or sentiment of a person, people, or community.
  3. Pathos: emotion, passion, and especially triggering an emotional reaction from and connection with the audience.

Here are some things that jumped to me:

  • Communication is an act of will directed toward a living entity that reacts.
  • Effective communication is intentional. It is goal-oriented. It is strategic.
  • Words matter. Words shape worldviews. Words provoke action and reaction, which in turn provoke more words. Getting the words right is critically important. Getting the action right is also critically important. And aligning the words and actions is even more important.
  • Communication isn’t about telling our story. That’s undisciplined, self-indulgent, and often illusory. The power of communication is getting audiences to listen—and to care.
  • The only reason to communicate is to change something—to provoke a reaction.
  • Audiences don’t care about what companies (churches) care about. And that an effective leader knows how to connect with an audience on the things the audience cares about.
  • Effective communication can help accomplish any particular purpose better, and faster, and with fewer resources. But however effective, it must be paired with action that is consistent with what is said.
  • Whoever is first to define the crisis, the motives, and the next steps typically wins.
  • Shaping the communication agenda requires considering more than what we may be minimally required to say, but rather identifying what we optimally should say in order to maintain trust, confidence, and loyalty.
  • The most successful senior managers tended also to be the most compelling communicators.
  • An audience’s first impression is visual.
  • A speaker captures or loses the audience’s attention in the first 15 seconds.
  • We connect with others by feeling, not by thinking.
  • Leaders who appeal to self-interest alone will often fail to move their audiences. But leaders who appeal to identity—to being part of a team, a cause, an event, a mission—can move people to put aside their self-interest.
  • People tend to remember the first thing they hear, but not what follows immediately thereafter.
  • People tend to remember the last thing they hear.

If you are a communicator or a leader, this is a book worth checking out.