Talk the Talk

As a leader, you represent your brand and must promote its message. To be an effective leader you must be able to clearly communicate your company’s vision to both your employees and the public. Here are four things to keep in mind when speaking to any audience:

1. Have a clear message

Having a clear vision and message is the foundation of effective communication. As you may have read in the Globe and Mail or the Financial Post, VIA Rail has developed a plan to transform the passenger rail landscape with our dedicated tracks project. But before we started promoting this plan, we spent the time working out the details and making sure it was viable and would benefit Canadians and the economy. Then we got to work spreading the word. As a result, our dedicated tracks project is now a prominent issue in the public space and people are starting to get the message and take up the charge.

2. Explain the Bigger Picture

To mark the publication of our first Sustainable Mobility Report, I wrote an Op-Ed that ran on Earth Day. The article was not filled with statistics about VIA Rail’s accomplishments, but instead focused on the “why” and “how” of sustainable mobility—the underlying factors that fuel our efforts. I explained why the way Canadians choose to travel is so important, and how VIA Rail will encourage doing the right thing for the environment by making the choice to take the train irresistible.

3. Location, Location, Location

To make a lasting impression, your material must be regionally relevant. I spent much of the last few weeks on the road to audiences in Calgary, Vancouver, Kingston, Toronto, Montreal, and Québec City. When I visited the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, for example, I made sure to address the concerns of Kingstonians. I discussed plans to improve our current service and how our Dedicated Tracks project would impact their city. Regionalizing your material makes it more relevant, shows you are listening to their needs, and helps build a strong connection with an audience.

4. Adapt to your audience

While visiting John Molson School of Business at Concordia University and Université Laval this month, I was able to have fruitful conversations with students because my talk focused on what mattered to them. We discussed topics like how to foster a culture of innovation, and related it to VIA Rail by exploring how the train can appeal to millennials and their role in the future of sustainable mobility. The financial details were saved for different audiences such as the Chambers of Commerce.

To practice your communication skills, tweet me @VIARailPrez.

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