Reflecting on yesterday’s Leadership Communications Seminar – SmartMouth’s first! – I am struck mostly by the good vibe. A diverse group of twelve leaders gathered in an unusually comfortable, sunlit conference room in downtown Salt Lake City to listen, learn, share, discuss, and work together! Time flew. Relationships were formed. Common challenges were noted. Accepted practices were questioned. New ideas and thought processes were floated. Absorption. Understanding. Renewed motivation. Really good group mojo.

Because of the strength and experience of the participants, I morphed into being more the facilitator of dynamic group discussions than the trainer/teacher/coach I so often am. These were professional leader/communicators, exploring the pitfalls and the opportunities they have when they open their mouths – in both formal and informal settings. I used a very hands-on approach, with lots of case studies – including the real-life cases raised by participants – and pushed them pretty hard to develop strong, meaningful messages. No pabulum allowed.

Over lunch, we side-tracked for a little to share personal stories and experiences. I passed around a plate of silk fortune cookies; inside each one was a folded-up slip of paper with a question or the start of an unfinished sentence. All about communicating, all different, all prompting the group into interesting conversation and, in most cases, another learning moment. Some surprising, some very funny, moments.

The opening and culminating exercises of the Seminar were the oh-so-simple-but-oh-so-dreaded “personal introductions,” which interestingly and, I might add, predictably not one of these twelve leaders had at-the-ready. The difference between their output at 9 am and their output at 4 pm was remarkable and very rewarding to observe!

Thanks to all participants! I was honored to be your leader yesterday!

Beth Levine