The Four Presenter Voices of Leadership

Published August 31, 2020


CommunicationLeading Others
The Global Leadership Network would like to congratulate our dear friend and leadership contributor, Jeff Henderson as he transitioned from his role at Gwinnett Church to dedicate his time spreading his important “FOR” message with The FOR Company. Learn more about the important work he’s doing to serve communities >>


Have you ever heard a boring presentation?

Sometimes when I speak to business groups, I ask people to raise their hand if they’ve ever experienced one. Everyone laughs and raises their hands. Then I ask how many of us think we might have been the reason someone else raised their hand!

Eventually, Leadership Comes with a Microphone

Public speaking certainly can be daunting but it’s inevitable in any organization.

I define public speaking as any form of communication where you are sharing an idea or information to another human being.

When people tell me they aren’t a public speaker, I ask if they ever speak in meetings. The answer is, of course, yes. Then I congratulate them. They have spoken in a public setting. They are now officially a public speaker.

This is especially true for leaders. Eventually, leadership comes with a microphone.

When we communicate, we are handed a microphone and asked to lead. It could be our family, a friendship, a company, a team, a homeowner’s association (God be with you), a school or a volunteer group. This is true whether we are in front of five people or 500. And as leaders, we must be very intentional about becoming better communicators.

The better we communicate, the better we lead.

There are several reasons why but this one might be the most important: The better we communicate, the better we lead. And If we aren’t communicating clearly and effectively, we put a lid on the potential of the organization and our leadership.

The problem is that public speaking doesn’t come easily for many of us.

In fact, it’s been said there are two great fears in life: death and public speaking. I understand.

And yet, the reality is that most great things in history (and bad) have happened when someone got up to speak and rallied people around their idea.


Discover Your Dominant Presenters Voice

Over the last 20 years, I have coached business leaders, preachers and teachers on how to make their next presentation their best presentation. During this time, I’ve noticed there are four presenter voices. And we usually have one of these as a primary voice.

When we discover which one of these four voices is our dominant voice, it allows us to leverage the strength of that voice while avoiding the weakness. This helps in a variety of ways but most importantly it helps in our preparation process.

The better you prepare, the better you present.

Too often, we spend way too much time on our keynote slides and not enough on how we are going to communicate what’s on those slides. I have seen dozens of leaders improve their presentation skills almost overnight by simply understanding how to leverage their particular voice.

How we communicate is just as important as what we communicate.

The four presenter voices of leadership are the Teacher, the Motivator, the Storyteller and the Visionary. At the end of this post, I am providing you with a free test to determine which voice is dominant for you.

1. The Teacher 

The voice of the Teacher is instructional with explanation as the goal. If you have the voice of a teacher, you have great content. One of your challenges is trying to fit all your great content within the allotted time, right?

The weakness of this voice can potentially be a lack of connection with the crowd. This is a hard truth for teachers to embrace. Teachers can assume that great content automatically makes for a great presentation. This is a dangerous assumption to make.

We all know teachers who knew their content very well but lost their audience in the first five minutes. This is why the first part of a presentation is vitally important for those who have this voice. They must work really hard to connect with their audience by giving them a reason or reasons to keep listening.

When you combine great content with a strong connection with the audience, you have the recipe for a great presentation.

How we communicate is just as important as what we communicate.


2. The Motivator

The voice of the Motivator is action-oriented with personal change as the goal. In many ways, the voices of the Teacher and Motivator are the complete opposite. For example, the first 5-10 minutes of a presentation for a Motivator is easy. They lean into their natural gifting as a communicator. They quickly engage the crowd and bring energy to the presentation.

However, if they aren’t careful, as the presentation moves along the energy and connection begins to wane. The weakness Motivators struggle with is leaning more on inspiration and less on content and clarity.

I can usually tell whether a leader who has the Motivator voice by around the 10 to 15-minute mark of their presentation. At this point, they are into the content portion and this is where the weakness of this voice begins to appear.

It’s why I ask leaders with the Motivator voice to work twice as hard on the middle section of their presentations.


3.  The Storyteller 

The voice of the Storyteller is engaging, with emotional connection with the crowd as the goal. So many of history’s best communicators had the voice of the storyteller. As you well know, stories are often more memorable than content. In fact, Dan and Chip Heath in their book Made to Stick encourage presenters to focus primarily on stories.

If this voice is your strength, you have a huge advantage on the rest of us because you can easily draw your audience into your presentation.

However, like the other voices, this one has a weakness to avoid. The weakness of the Storyteller can often be a lack of direction and clarity regarding the purpose of the presentation. If you’re not careful, it can seem like you’re just sharing stories with no purpose. This is why a Storyteller must have a clear destination and purpose for the talk.


4.  The Visionary

The Voice of the Visionary is inspiring with organizational/world change as the goal.

Visionary leaders have a way of helping us see something that currently doesn’t exist. They turn good intention into reality. They help change the world and one of the ways they do it is through communication and presentations.

The weakness of the Visionary voice is clearly articulating the how behind the why of the change. This is tricky because so often the how is unclear, which is understandable. However, if over time, there is no substantial way to help turn the intention into reality, the talk simply becomes rhetoric.

Now that you know the strengths and weaknesses of the four presenter voices, the next step is to discover your dominant voice. I’ve created a free test to help leaders, like you, discover their presenters voice.

Take the test out here >>

Once you have determined your voice, apply the strength and avoid the weakness of your voice to your next presentation.

As you do, you’ll take a big step toward making your next presentation your best presentation.

About the Author
Since 2003, Jeff Henderson has helped lead three of North Point Ministries’ locations in the Atlanta Georgia area.

Jeff Henderson

Author, Coach & Consultant

The For Company

Since 2003, Jeff Henderson has helped lead three of North Point Ministries’ locations in the Atlanta Georgia area. He was recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of twenty speakers you shouldn’t miss. Prior to serving as a pastor, Jeff worked in marketing with the Atlanta Braves, Callaway Gardens, Lanier Islands and Chick-fil-A, Inc where he led the company’s regional and sports marketing strategies. He recently released his first book, Know What You're FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life.

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