While I was never one to watch The Tonight Show on NBC, since Jimmy Fallon has taken the helm, I have become quite the fan. He now has a permanent DVR spot, and I would rather delete a lot of other shows than get out of synch with the Tonight Show episodes. I guess that qualifies me as a fan!
A lot has been written about how Jimmy has been able to revive the show, and bring a whole new audience, especially younger watchers to the show every week night. At first I couldn’t necessarily tell you why I was a fan, but it struck me recently. Jimmy comes across as a genuine, authentic person who just happens to have a really cool job. He’s almost an “outsider” (in recent political terms), someone who isn’t part of the established Hollywood scene. And he seems to really love what he does.
I think it’s exactly because of his authentic demeanor and interest in his guests that people have grown to trust him, and are willing to have him into their homes every night. Because he seems like the guy next door that you’d have fun getting to know and hang out with, people are drawn to him, and his show.
All of us want the same thing in our daily interactions at work, but let’s face it, we can’t all be as genuinely likable as Jimmy. The things we talk about aren’t as exciting as asking Leonardo DiCaprio what he did at his last party, and we certainly don’t want to come across like a TV Show Host when we’re talking about work and the important issues in our business.
If you’re a leader who wants to influence an organization, effective communication is critical to helping guide the people we work with. In a sense, we want to be “allowed” into the hearts and minds of our organization, and you won’t get that simply by being a leader. You have to be able to effectively communicate your vision, and get the important message across in a way that people can understand, and connect with.
In other words, it’s one thing to communicate a message. It’s entirely another to be able to get that message to resonate with the people we’re talking with. Our ability to influence an outcome, or drive an organization to make decisions that match what we are proposing really do require many of the same talents that Jimmy has.
Here are some of the communication styles that Jimmy uses on every show, and how they might benefit you in your organization.
- Genuine – Jimmy has a way of making you feel like whatever he’s talking about, he’s really excited about it. It could be that he really is genuinely excited about every topic and conversation, but if he wasn’t, you’d never know it. Being genuine is hard to fake, and if you want to be perceived as someone who can be trusted, you have to be open and honest in your communication style. You really do need to be “you”, no matter the audience. Fakers are easy to spot.
- Interested – When Jimmy talks with the various high-powered stars that visit his set, you’ll notice that he often leans in toward the person in the guest chair and gives them focused attention. He doesn’t sit back and approach this like an interview. You can almost feel his excitement and interest in every conversation. Your ability to be interested in the people you are communicating with is important. If you aren’t sure how to start, ask them something about themselves, or share something about you. Just opening a conversation with something personal immediately opens the person up to you. And, everyone loves to talk about themselves, right?
- Self-deprecating – Jimmy isn’t above making fun of himself if it’s warranted. In a recent episode, Jimmy quickly explained how he had injured his hand for the second time in several months. He knew that if he didn’t explain why he had another bandaged hand, people might speculate, or focus on that instead of him. By making light of himself and being honest, he just makes you feel like you could have done the same thing. That makes him more real and approachable.
- Supportive – In 2014, Jimmy broadcast his show from the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida. One of his guests was Kevin Hart, the popular comedian and actor. Since they were in the land of roller coasters, Jimmy decided to try and ‘help’ Kevin get over his fear of roller coasters by taking him on a ride on the “Rip, Ride, Rockit”. While this might have been a great opportunity to make fun of Kevin’s phobia, it turns out that Jimmy doesn’t like roller coasters either. They filmed the entire ride, and you can watch it here. If you watch the video, notice how Jimmy supports Kevin before (1:50) and after (3:35) the ride by telling him he can do it and how well he did after it was over. Jimmy didn’t use this opportunity to make fun of Kevin, but he was actually supporting him in a time of fear.
As a leader, your job is to set and communicate a vision for the organization. Many are good at setting the vision, but communicating not only the what, but the why, is more difficult. To really affect the hearts of the organization, you have to be able to be “welcomed” into the life of the audience you are trying to communicate with.As a leader, your job is to set and communicate a vision for the organization. Click To Tweet
Take a few lessons from Jimmy Fallon…maybe they’ll become fans, and you might have some fun along the way.
Who is one of the best communicators you have ever worked for? What did they do that was so effective?