Leadership, language and communication

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METIS-SUR-MER — I have started to get nervous. It’s not like me. But I am giving a speech in late September to the CRHA, Quebec’s largest Human Resources professional association. And I am doing it in French.

Normally I am quite comfortable with these kinds of things. After years of performing on stage as a kid (thank you Mary I) and ten years on the speaking circuit in the UK and Europe, I don’t worry about these things too much. But a few days this summer in the heart of French-Canada and I have realised that I am not as strong in French as I would like to be.

My friend Marie-Claude Perrault is too kind to tell the story of the business meeting she took me to 15 years ago where I talked elegantly about the ‘gestation of business’ (‘gestion’ being management, and ‘gestation’ being the period before birth…)

Earlier this week I met an English fellow who is based near here in Rimouski. He runs a youth orchestra and festivals for the musically discriminating. He’s been living in this part of the world for 7 years and he has lost some of his English vocabulary. So he was flipping back and forth between English and French. That’s normally something I love. But as good as this guy was, I realised it hindered his message. And, knowing that I will face up to 600 people at 9 am for a one hour presentation, I am suddenly nervous.

Can I really talk about leadership in a recession when the words might not show up?

/df



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