Abbey Lovett is one of our Lasting Impact! Coaches. She will be hosting an Online Workshop Feb. 10 at 1:00 CT on Storytelling. It will be part of our Online Workshop Series- Storytelling, Illustrated Oratory/ Expository, After Dinner Speaking, and Creating your Characters. More information coming soon to sign up for the online workshops!! For now, enjoy Abbey’s article on The Art of Communication… Be sure to check out her video too!
I’ve been involved with learning and teaching communication for the past seven years. In that time, I’ve been to countless communication classes, seminars, and camps. Most of these camps I went to were very helpful in coaching me in the skill of communication.
However, in all of these classes, I had never once had a conversation about Aristotle or Rhetoric or even Socrates. I was a junior in high school (after 5 years of speaking) when I first heard about Aristotle’s influence on communication. Everything changed for me in that moment. I dove into studying Aristotle’s philosophy of rhetoric and adopting it into my speaking and coaching…
If I could tell you only one thing I learned from Aristotle, it would be that communication is so much more than a skill. Communication is more than learning how to organize a speech, it’s more than learning how to walk during a presentation, it’s more than training yourself to smile. It’s more than technique. Communication is an art.
I know I know. I sound like one of those hippie life coaches who only talks in lofty motivational speak. But it’s true, and focussing on developing my communication not only as a skill, but with the mindset of an artist, revolutionized the way I prepared and spoke. Here’s why I consider communication to be an art:
Learning to play a masterpiece on the piano or painting the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen takes a different mindset than learning how to juggle or throw a frisbee. I played piano for 12 years, I was pretty good at hitting the keys and knowing the names of notes. But when I really wanted to give a beautiful song credit, I had to take my mind off simply hitting the right keys put it on portraying the message in the song. My teacher used to explain songs by having me imagine a flowing river or a windy day. These are the things I imagined while trying to communicate the story of that song.
For me, communication is the same way. When I internalize an idea or story I want to communicate, my concentration is on painting the picture of those ideas so that they can be enjoyed and appreciated by my audience. I’m not so concentrated on the tiny nitpicky parts of all the training I had to be a public speaker. I’m concentrated on the picture I’m painting. That’s what makes it an art.
The primary motivator
What motivates you to play the piano? What motivates you to paint? For most artists, it’s a passion to create something beautiful that has their own unique touch to it. Artists create to make something that is beautiful for their audiences. They aren’t motivated by money or the possibility of conquering. In fact, I asked one of my favorite artists, Hannah Phillips @hpmedia, what motivates her. Here’s what she said:
“I can’t paint for money. Back when I started full time with hpmedia I thought I would, I thought money would be my primary motivator, but I quickly learned that wasn’t realistic at all. Everything is a passion project when it comes to my paintings, and I just hope people will get a sense of that passion along the way and want to take a piece of it for themselves.”
Passion motivates skillful art; skill without art is motivated by utility.
Earlier I mentioned that communication was an art. I lied. Communication alone is not an art, but if you adopt the right mindset and let passion motivate your creations, communication becomes an art.
Experiencing the art of communication will revolutionize your understanding of rhetoric. I hope you’ll join me in the experience.
Here is a video Abbey produced on Experiencing the Art of Persuation: Storytelling
Abbey Lovett has been involved in competitive forensics for 8 years. In her time as a competitor, she qualified to Nationals four times and gained two national titles. She was head coach of her local club for two years, and is founder of the new coaching service Lyceum Communications that works with business professionals to adopt classical rhetoric into their everyday communication. Abbey works in the Washington, D.C. area at an economic research center, Mercatus, and uses communication everyday in her role as a Media Relations Associate.