On My Walk (Communication)


Powerful communication can be as "simple" as one well-timed word. I am re-working my way through Nothing To Fear: FDR's Inner Circle And The Hundred Days That Created Modern America, by Adam Cohen. This comment caught my attention:

With this single speech, Roosevelt catapulted himself to national prominence.

In 1924, Roosevelt was chosen to nominate New York governor Alfred E. Smith at the Democratic National Convention. Wearing braces to stabilize his legs made useless due to polio, Roosevelt slowly made his way to the podium. Cohen writes,

The delegates were transfixed, first by his halting but determined movement, and then by his extraordinary nominating address, in which he saluted Smith as a "Happy Warrior." With this single speech, Roosevelt catapulted himself to national prominence.

Today, you will be bombarded with 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements and millions of pieces of data. You will probably add to that communication stream.

There are no small communication moments. You need not be addressing a convention for your communication to count. So treat every piece of your leadership communication as essential.

The secret to effective communication is not more words, but fewer words well spoken.

A few tips for these few words: Keep it terse. Keep it active. Use story. Use analogy and metaphor. Provide a memorable phrase or line. FDR used "Happy Warrior." 

Don't give them more words. Give them fewer words. Just make them better.


  • "The delegates were transfixed . . ." from Nothing To Fear, by Adam Cohen, pp 22-23.
  • "Today you will be bombarded with ..." from "How Many Ads To You See In One Day." www.redcrowmarketing.com/2015/09/10/many-ads-see-one-day/. Accessed March 9, 2017.