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Inject life into your message

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

For Julie Sweet, talking works better than writing—at least when she’s trying to connect with employees. Sweet is the CEO of Accenture’s North American business.

Instead of writing emails to convey important information to her 50,000 employees, Sweet switched to speech. She now opts for live webcasts or pre-taped video messages.“It allows you to be more authentic and less scripted,” she says.

Employees crave leaders who come across as genuine and real, Sweet adds. She believes that writing memos imposes a formality on communication that leaves readers adrift and less engaged.

Moreover, Sweet has found that speaking directly to the workforce in an unscripted manner fosters more dialogue. Her off-the-cuff style sparks livelier conversations and encourages employees to bat around ideas and solve problems.

During her live-stream webcasts, Sweet does not read from notes. Instead, she comes across as if she’s speaking to someone one-on-one. Participants can pose questions in real time.

Some leaders may worry about seeming unprepared if they host live webcasts. But it’s actually better when employees see the CEO saying, “I don’t know the answer” and then following up later.

Writing memos also distances a leader from the troops. Readers may scan the text, but they won’t sense a speaker’s passion or see facial expressions that reinforce key points.

Sweet doesn’t just frown on corporate memos. She also disdains PowerPoint presentations that are dry and thankless chores to deliver—and listen to.

— Adapted from “The CEO of a $16 billion business explains why she banned corporate memos,” Marguerite Ward, finance.yahoo.com.

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