Today’s post was written by Amy Fenollosa, Director of Learning at The Latimer Group.
The city of Lyon, France may be best known as the gastronomic epicenter of world; with phenomenal chefs and outstanding restaurants, people travel the globe to sample the rich Lyonnaise food. While I was there last week to teach Executive Communication Skills to a diverse group of international leaders, I discovered another secret in Lyon.
In the old village, nestled between shops, behind grand wooden doors, are entrances to a network of Traboules. In the 18th century, Lyon was bustling with the silk industry. Traboules, from the Latin “To Cross”, are covered passages that allowed merchants to travel throughout the city without emerging outdoors. Behind the enormous doors are narrow, often dark walkways that connect buildings and allowed the delicate silk to be transported without damage from the elements.
The secret walkways behind the building façades exposed a whole new perspective on the city. Yes, Lyon has fabulous food — it also has a rich history to discover behind the facades of the ancient gothic architecture. By opening the heavy doors and walking into the Traboules, we could imagine the city as it was thousands of years ago.
What’s behind the façade? As you prepare for your next communication, think about your audience. What do you know about them? What are the priorities of the group? What is important to the individuals who will be in the room? And then, look beyond the façade. Begin to ask questions and think more about individual goals and priorities. What motivates these people? What inspires them? What will help them make decisions? As you strive to be the best, most persuasive communicator you can be, think about the Traboules. If we didn’t open the doors, we would never have discovered the secrets of the city. Look beyond the façade.