Everyone longs to be heard, but what does it take to cultivate your voice, hook your audience, and share your passion? Uncover your communication superpower and how to overcome your Kryptonite. Discover four secret faces every message needs. Then, get ready to impact your world as you find your voice.
Up, up, and away! The exhilarating fictional superhero Superman took his first flight in the imaginations of Americans in 1938 via D.C. comics. The world was on the verge of war once again and in need of something to both believe in and to distract. Just months before the beginning of World War II, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster debuted the comic book hero. With enduring power, Superman has been part of the American fictional landscape ever since.
Superman was born on the planet Krypton during a tumultuous upheaval that led to its ultimate destruction. Krypton cataclysmically exploded due to a build-up of internal pressure at its core and all life that inhabited it was annihilated. Superman was but an infant when he escaped the fate of his planet. His parents sent him off in a rocket ship, through the void of space, where he landed on a small farm on our planet Earth. This story was the beginning of an over 80 year American fascination with Superman and the idea of the superhero.
Having superpowers alone does not a superhero make. A hero must rely on good character, good choices, good associates, good use of skills as well as an understanding of his weaknesses and how to overcome them. Superman eventually joined the Justice League, partnering with other likeminded heroes. In doing so he multiplied his strengths by playing off those around him.
Your communication style is your superpower. To express your voice via broadcast, podcast or in life you will need to learn what your powers are and begin to harness them. You will need to learn what your weakness are and how to overcome them. It may not be easy at first, but as Superman eventually leaned to focus, control, and use his power so you will as well. With time, experience, trials, and tribulation we can hone our power to use for the betterment of all. If we do not know what our strengths are we cannot effectively use them. If we do not face our weaknesses, we will never get stronger. In the end both we and the world miss out.
Watch a Superman movie about his origins and you’ll see that it was not always easy for the young version of the American hero. Clark Kent, his name from his adoptive parents, struggled. Finding and focusing his powers was at first awkward, if not outright dangerous. In the 2013 Man of Steel movie depiction a young terror filled Clark, roughly 10 years in age, bolted out of the classroom. X ray vision had turned his teacher and classmates into living skeletons. The intensity of super hearing squelching in his head overwhelmed him. He fled past lockers, classroom doors, down the hall to the solitude of a janitor’s closet. In the dissonance of amplified noise and the sounds of distant whispering mocking students he sat powerless, comforted only by a bucket and an old mop. Young Clark was immobilized and in tears until his mother came. “The world is too big.” He said to her, quivering as he spoke. His mother helped him to make his world smaller, in other words, she weeded through the noise and helped him to focus. Clark Kent before becoming Superman, had to learn about his powers and fine tune his abilities. The finer the focus the more fabulous the success.
You, like young Clark Kent, have a golden opportunity in finding and focusing your own voice’s superpower. Put an ‘S’ on your chest and get ready to take on the world. Just don’t let me paint too rosy of a picture. It will be, at times, uncomfortable, awkward, frustrating, and difficult. Everything that is worthwhile in life requires hard work and struggle. Just remember that you are worth it, your voice is important, and your waiting audience is worth your efforts as well.
Name any character from a superhero comic book and you will see them in your mind’s eye. You will associate them with their superpower and unique gifts. The Fantastic four, a Marvel Comics’ creation is a team created by artist Jack Kirby and editor Stan Lee. The gifts of these young heroes appeared after exposure to cosmic rays. Members of the group are named for their abilities. The Invisible Woman could turn invisible. The Human Torch had the ability to generate flames. Some heroes possess multiple powers. You are gifted in at least one of the communication styles that are vital to finding and sharing your voice. Those superpowers are waiting to be focused and unleashed on the world.
WHAT ARE THE COMMUNICATION SUPERPOWERS?
Successful communication has four elements or powers. These are the voice’s superpowers that draw in and keep an audience. Communication must be engaging, entertaining, informative, and inspirational. Superman used x-ray vision, super strength, superior hearing, and lightning speed to accomplish his missions. We use engagement, entertainment, information, and inspiration to reach and to retain an audience. If your presentation lacks any of these elements your task will be more difficult. Information, inspiration, engagement, and entertainment are the legs of the table that make any broadcast stand.
Information is food for the soul. We crave it. It is vital for our growth. It gives our minds sustenance as human beings. A good broadcast, book, lecture is nothing without bits of information that feed our hungry audience.
If information is sustenance, then engagement is the comfort food of communication. Engagement makes information taste better. It is the spoon of sugar that makes the medicine go down, so to speak. Engagement creates relatability. It is what helps our message become genuine and in turn reaches our audience on a deeper level.
Entertainment is the flashy show that draws people in and can keep them attracted to our message. Food photography makes a dish look so inviting that you can almost taste it when viewing a picture. Your mouth may water just by looking at it. Entertainment is what that makes our message inviting. Entertainment puts the fun in a functional presentation.
Finally, it is inspiration that spurs us on. Inspiration provides vision and motivation. It makes use of what we have acquired. Without it we get obese and lethargic from our consumption of information, engagement, and entertainment. Much like a body takes in what we eat. It will turn our food to fat if we do not use the food as fuel. Inspiration puts what we have read or heard and turns it to something usable. Inspiration spurs us towards action.
Each of these elements are superpowers. You have at least one of these in your genetic makeup. Others you may have acquired through your life experiences. Some you may find you lack and will need to find other superpowered friends or develop your own secondary skills to supplement. When you can put all of the powers into practice you will have a winning act.
There have been scores of Hollywood actors, sports figures and rock stars who fell flat in the broadcast world because they relied on their sole superstar power and had no understanding of what their weakness were. They might be entertaining but lack the substance of information. Someone can be inspirational or informative but put their audience to sleep. You can really like someone on a personal level and feel engaged, but they may lack anything that inspires you to listen again.
Queen Latifah is an engaging actress, singer, rapper. In both 1999 and 2013 she broadcasted the Queen Latifah Show. In both cases it lasted less than two years. Wayne Brady is a brilliantly funny comedian who became known from his role on ABC’s improvisation television show, ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ I saw him live at a large concert venue pick random people from the audience and with four pieces of information on their lives (name, what they do for work, marital status, what they were wearing) he sang an impromptu song about them that had the audience in stiches. Wayne Brady is entertainment personified but his daytime talk show did not make it past two seasons. Jane Pauley author, news reporter, and was at one time co-host of ‘Today’ was born to inform. ‘The Jane Pauley Show’ came on air in 2004 and was off after one season. You would think a sports hero would be an inspirational superhero worthy of a talk show. L.A. Laker Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson had a show called ‘The Magic Hour’ that debuted in 1998. It lasted only three months. Magic could not pull off the trick of balancing the sport’s world gift of inspiration with entertainment, engagement, or information.
If these icons of the entertainment industry cannot make it how can the average everyday person hope to succeed? Ah, the first thing is to recognize the fallacy in that question. There really is no one who is average. As discussed earlier, we are all unique and priceless. Our stories are important. Learn what your superpower is and how to cultivate the powers you lack, and you will do what these celebrities could not.
WHERE DOES MY SUPERPOWER COME FROM?
Snowflakes are renowned for their uniqueness. No matter how many billions of them fall from the sky, there are never two that are the same. “In 1885, scientist Wilson Bentley devised a clever way of attaching his camera to a microscope so he could take photographs of snowflakes in greater detail than ever before. Getting this close made it even clearer that no two flakes were the same, no matter how many Mr. Bentley examined.” A snowflake’s unique make-up is a product of temperatures, cloud conditions, humidity, the interaction of water molecules. Like these frozen wonders of nature, we are a unique byproduct of many factors.
A person’s communication superpower, strengths and weakness are a result of an interplay of ego, experience, and environment. This is one reason that you are completely distinctive, the only one like you that has or ever will exist.
The exact relationship between these factors is uniquely yours. Ego is your temperament. It comes from a genetically pre-determined programing within you. Ego is what nature gives to you. What nurtures you is your environment. Environment is what and who you have been surrounded by. Experience influences your personality and communication style as you react to the circumstances of life.
You may enter the world wrapped in an ego blanket of a strong-willed personality. Your parents may be quiet and introverted. That environment your parents supplied brought a whole new aspect to your personality. Then you have experiences early on as you navigate the school yard playground. Here amongst the swings, kids, and slides you develop interpersonal skills. The experiences you have there, which bring anger, pain, laughter, and enjoyment mold your communication skills.
You will exhibit a dominate superpower in the communication world that comes from your hardwired programming of ego, environment, and experience. While all of the communication styles can float around in your persona one usually drifts to the top. You can visit www.findyourvoice.fun to take a communication style quiz that can help you pin-point that power. You can also read on to learn more about the communication styles, their strengths and weakness. You may see in yourself traits from these powers as you read. You may also find other powers are fairly foreign to you.
While we can pin down your dominate superpower and even track some of your personality traits, quirks, and tendencies, it is impossible to put every person in a perfect personality box, wrapped with a bow, and accurately labeled. Science has tried this before, but science is intrinsically ill-suited in navigating the nuances of a person’s disposition. Think about it. How do you scientifically measure character and emotion or recreate the exact circumstances that brought out their subtleties? How do you traverse an ever-changing temperament? You are in a continually fluxing state of growth and development. That is great news. That means that you are unconfined. You can grow, develop, and improve.
WHAT ARE SUPER WEAKNESSES?
Every one of us is like a mixed medium masterpiece. As an art lover walks through a gallery, she approaches you, a work of art. Your blend of colors and textures, canvas, and style paint a unique picture. What is the piece saying to the observer? What is the message you were designed to portray? What is most attractive about your piece? What is off putting? Your communication style is like that work of art. It tells a story about you. You are a mix of Entertainer, Engager, informer, and inspirer. Each of these elements can hold positive aspects and negative aspects as well.
Superpowers have a flip side. They come with devastating weaknesses. Being from Krypton, Superman had superhuman abilities that others on Earth did not possess. The Earth’s weaker gravity and makeup of our sun gave him his strength, speed, and endurance. Yet Kryptonite debilitates Superman, rendering him powerless. Kryptonite is a fragment of the planet Krypton that, in the Superman story, emits a unique radiation that weakens Superman but is generally harmless to humans. It is interesting that being from Krypton is Superman’s strength and yet Kryptonite is his weakness. So too our strengths have a counter side, like a coin, that can undermine our success.
Someone who is forthright and strong willed can come off as overbearing and insensitive. Someone who is fun and fancy free can project a disingenuous air and seem to lack substance. An intellectual may want to share their knowledge but lack the power to keep their students interested. These are the antithetical elements of strengths.
For some it is difficult to hear the negative or take critique. Yet constructive criticism is an honest, sincere feedback that is offered to the recipient with the pure intention of helping the recipient to excel. Without facing the adverse and its analysis you are doomed to mediocrity.
A college professor friend of mine said that there is a big difference in generational focus at this time of his career. He noted that within this new batch of students, all members of Generation Z, many have never had a figure in academia say anything adverse to them. No teacher has ever said anything negative. This professor is a master of ‘sandwiching’ criticism. (Sandwiching refers to placing a negative assessment between praise and encouragement.) He said that for some of these young students even a gentle sandwiched critique would result in a complete melt down. This may not be you. Criticism, none the less, is rarely easy for anyone to take. Those who learn to embrace constructive criticism, recognize potential faults, learn from mistakes and work to correct them have an edge in life and love that others do not.
It was mortifying when, as a young radio personality, as a part of my job, I had to do regular air checks with my program director or with a professional consultant. An air check is a recording taken from your show for the purpose of evaluation. Every time you open the mic the red light would go on and you would know that whatever you are about to say will be recorded and under strict review. When played back you will hear the verbal crutches, “Um, uh, you know.” You hear the awkwardness in your voice, after all you may be new to the game and are still trying to find your footing. You get embarrassed as you listen to yourself try to be clever, funny, or interesting in the short moments in between songs. You watch your bosses face contort as you mispronounce someone’s name in the news that you had never heard of before. On top of it all your voice just sounds outright funny to you when played back! (This is due to the fact that everyone else hears your voice differently than you hear yourself. Others hear your voice through the air. You hear yourself from both the air and through sound reverberating through the bones in your head). Put all of these factors together and I found myself on air check days sweating, embarrassed, and discouraged.
Yet hearing mistakes and missteps spurred me on to become better. Direction from experts pointed out my super failures and flaws so that I could overcome them as I strove to be an excellent communicator. I learned how to make every word, every inflection have purpose. I developed pauses and controlled the speed of my voice to draw my listeners in while sounding off-the-cuff. I learned how to use my own unique superpowers and how to focus my niche. Without my failings, my mistakes, mishaps, flaws, bad experiences I would have never experienced growth.
Do not be intimidated by the other side of the coin! As we have discussed, your weaknesses can be your taskmaster for growth. There are ways for you to use your shortcoming to become better at what you do. There are ways to build up other strengths in your life so that you can become more well-rounded, effective, and learn to offset weaknesses. Remember that imperfections make you beautiful and relatable.
Imagine starting to play a new instrument for the first time at this stage of your life. I know that when I picked up a guitar as an adult my fingers ached and the ears of those around me did as well. I worked hard to build up calluses, strength, and agility. I wrote music and lyrics with the hope that I could venture out to the world to present my craft and creations. The problem was that I had a huge deficit or, more accurately put, tiny deficits! I have small hands. My poor little fingers are pretty short for a guitarist. Bar chords were the bane of my world.
One night at Tim’s Tavern during an Open Mic Night where any one can come, sign up and play, an old guitarist known as ‘Lonely Steve’ sat down with me. Steve had long silver hair and gnarled fingers. He had been playing the guitar since 1960-something. In his time, he played with big names and toured with others. Today he often cannot remember the words to songs but still never forgets his way around the fretboard. Steve noticed that I struggled a bit, he’s seen it all before. He told me that if I grappled with my left hand, bar chords, and finger stretching then I should become more of a master with my right hand with how I pick, strum, and create rhythm. He praised my singing voice expressing that that strength can offset some of what I may lack in playing. That bit of advice changed me and bolstered my hope and confidence. If you lack in one way there is always a way to make up for it in another.
To overcome any weakness, you may also consider surrounding yourself with people of other communication styles and giftings to shore up what you may lack. It is like Superman forming a fellowship with other members of the Justice League. Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and others, along with Superman, formed The League of Justice. The League’s members have powers, ability, and insight that Superman did not possess. Working with a team can enhance skill and ability. A good team will have your back.
As you read on, you can discover more about the communication styles and why they are considered superpowers. You will learn their strengths and how to focus these strengths for effective use. We will also examine their weaknesses and get tips on overcoming them in the world of broadcast.
 Man of Steel. 2013. [film] Directed by Z. Snyder.
 Bbc.co.uk. 2021. Human beings - we’re made up of a lot of the same biological stuff but we don’t all look alike, do we?. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zmqmrj6> [Accessed 9 September 2021].