Warren Buffet’s Way with Words Wins over the World

| March 29, 2012

If you’re a leader you need to sell your product or service, command a room, motivate employees, persuade investors, align teams, and enlist allies. Yes, you’ll need brains and some sort of talent to do so but that doesn’t go too far without solid communications skills.

Politicians know very well that communication is performance. If you sound, look and act like a leader, you’ll be seen as a leader. The power of the word is a politician’s greatest asset. Yet business leaders don’t always cotton on to the fact that the way in which THEY speak says volumes about the company they run too.

Speak candidly using language that people understand and people will listen.

One of the world’s wealthiest men, Warren Buffet, is greatly admired for capturing audiences with his simplicity, clarity, wisdom and humor. People understand his message.

Warren Buffet is known as “Down to earth” in his communications style (picture thanks to Telegraph UK)

What is more believable, memorable and reassuring than to read language like these 3 excerpts from his 2012 annual shareholders letter:

  1. Charlie and I don’t expect to win many of you over to our way of thinking – we’ve observed enough human behavior to know the futility of that – but we do want you to be aware of our personal calculus. And here a confession is in order: In my early days I, too, rejoiced when the market rose. Then I read Chapter Eight of Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, the chapter dealing with how investors should view fluctuations in stock prices. Immediately the scales fell from my eyes, and low prices became my friend. Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life.

  2. For good reason, I regularly extol the accomplishments of our operating managers. They are truly All-Stars, who run their businesses as if they were the only asset owned by their families. I believe their mindset to be as shareholder-oriented as can be found in the universe of large publicly-owned companies. Most have no financial need to work; the joy of hitting business “home runs” means as much to them as their paycheck.

  3. “I’ve run out of good news. Here are some developments that hurt us during 2011: A few years back, I spent about $2 billion buying several bond issues of Energy Future Holdings, an electric utility operation serving portions of Texas. That was a mistake – a big mistake.”

Warren Buffet BBC Documentary “World’s Greatest Money Maker”
This BBC report refers to him as “Charmingly down to earth.” … “What you see is what you get.”

When people understand your message, you will become more credible, authoritative, influential, persuasive—simply said, more effective.

What can we all take away from Buffet’s style?

  • Bypass beating around the bush—tell it like it is
  • Jump the jargon—use plain language
  • Forget being formal—use a little quirky language that is you (you’re a person!)
  • Step away from the suit—be open, candid and real.

What do you like or dislike in leadership communication styles?



Category: Business Development, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Marketing

About Jacqui Buchanan: View author profile.

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