Paragraph one of a Wall Street Journal story, “Hearing to Test Yellen’s Skills of Communication,” Oct. 10, 2013 about a Senate confirmation hearing for President Obama’s pick to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve states this:
Janet Yellen often shows up for policy meetings at the Federal Reserve armed with carefully prepared statements mapping out her positions on key issues. Her speeches are often backed up with precisely footnoted documents. She rarely strays from her prepared text.
Janet Yellen Uses A Message Map (Essentially)
I bet she has a slew of mapped documents (based on that paragraph in the story) to keep her well prepared for meetings.
What happens, however, when she sits in front of the U.S. Senate amongst mostly friendly fire and the questions are unknown and drilled?
She’ll need to go off message, but if she’s the consummate communicator she’s portrayed as, she will do the following:
- She will brainstorm every question possible about the Fed’s performance and the past performances of its leadership.
- She will develop answers for every possible question.
- She will practice and review and practice again. She will be ultra prepared for that confirmation hearing.
She may get a question that comes out of left field, but we’ll know from watching that she’ll ready.
My recently published second book, Message Mapping: How to Sizzle External Communication with a #RockHot Tool for Leaders, helps teams and executives prepare for experiences like the one Janet Yellen will be in to earn her position and to confront the inquisitive media every day.
While company leaders are rarely in the spotlight as frequently as this by national media and the federal government, every single business leader needs a message map. Why? Because it helps put all the company factoids in one place. A message map becomes the tool leaders can use to guide them through an interview or meeting or speech or conversation.
In my book, I develop a message map for a fictitious company, and I provide the template for your own message map while telling you how to go about it. The book is a PDF download, and it’s available right here.
What are The Tells?
In poker, when it’s on TV, the announcers are good about looking for the tell in a player. What is the habitual tick a player makes that shows a bluff?
That’s not to say Janet Yellen has any of her own and hopefully not for the bluff!
What we can watch for, however, is whether she’s surprised with a question and what her reaction will be:
- Stutter, hem and haw. Some executives uncomfortable with a question resort to umms and ahhs during message delivery.
- Vacant stare. Instead of being able to quip a remark, some get lost staring into space.
Too fast delivery.
If someone quickly speaks and doesn’t think first about the content of the message, it can come out like gobble.
For someone the likes of Janet Yellen, my expectation is that she’ll smile as often as she can and attempt to warm the Senate while impressing them with her expertise and confidence. Of course, she’ll be the first woman ever to head this prestigious group, and that’s a critical opportunity for those women who enjoy the climb.
Why did I say she might smile a lot? In the photographs we’ve seen once she was selected by the President, she was beaming.
Now, we get to see if I’m right about her comportment as she vies for this venerable position to lead us through financial crises on a global scale.