Why You Need A “Mount Rushmore” of Mentors to Grow as a Communicator

Published July 3, 2018


CommunicationLeading Others

Steve Lawson says that when it comes to public speaking, we all need a “Mount Rushmore” of communicators. In my 27 years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an essential concept in my own personal growth for two main reasons:

1) There’s an old proverb that says, “In a multitude of counselors, there’s wisdom”

Learning from an eclectic tribe of mentors, even within the same field, has proven incredibly helpful for me. Whether it’s leadership, parenting or public speaking, listening to and leaning into varied voices has born great fruit in my own growth and development.

2) When it comes to communicating, there are basically 4 kinds of speakers: explainers, illustrators, applicators and ‘all of the above’

The best kind, of course, is the last kind—‘all of the above.’ What you want to avoid at all costs is an imbalance toward any of the first three in that list. This is hard because we are all naturally weighted toward either explaining, illustrating or applying.

Explainers will give great content, but they will bore you to death. The presentation typically goes something like this: “It means, it means, it means… Thanks for having me!” The audience is left thinking, “What just happened here?”

Illustrators will keep you on the edge of your seat with their stunning stories and analogies, but they will give you minimal content.

Applicators run the danger of fudging on content in order to move you, and boy will they you leave inspired. (They’re known to overstate facts and be a touch deceitful.)

All of the Above—The most potent communicators are those who strike a perfect balance between content, stories/analogies and inspirational application. That’s the bullseye we’re aiming for.

When looking for your own personal “Mount Rushmore” of communication mentors, you not only want people who do it well, but you want to look for all four kinds of public speakers if at all possible

When I started speaking at age 17, I wasn’t smart enough to say, “Okay, I need to find an explainer right now.” But that is exactly what ended up happening, and I’m so grateful for this. I spent many years apprenticing under an explainer, learning the tools of how to mine great content.

Not long after that, I interned for another man who was a phenomenal illustrator. He used to tell me, “Learn to think illustratively.” To him, everything was an illustration, and he even gave me exercises that forced me to come up with my own illustrations.

Finally, I spent three years working for a great applicator.

Meanwhile, in the course of all my learning, I was afforded opportunities to speak. If you had heard me speak during my time with “Dr. Explainer,” you would’ve gotten, well, a lot of explaining. The same is true for the time I worked with “Dr. Illustrator” and “Dr. Applicator.”

Over time, however, my own voice started to emerge, and the balance between the three gave way to me becoming more and more of the fourth type of communicator—‘all of the above.’

While not every message I give strikes the balance perfectly, I feel like I’m on a great trajectory because of time well spent with my “Mount Rushmore” of communicators.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn here.

About the Author(s)
Bryan Loritts

Bryan Loritts

Founder & Author

The Kainos Movement

Pastor Bryan Lorittsis the privileged husband of Korie, and the graced father of three sons—Quentin, Myles and Jaden. He serves the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California, as the Lead Pastor. He is the award-winning author of five books, including Saving the Saved: How Jesus Saves Us from Try-Harder Christianity into Performance-Free Love, which was given the Christianity Today Award of Merit. He co-founded Fellowship Memphis in 2003, and later founded The Kainos Movement—an organization committed to seeing the multi-ethnic church become the new normal in our world. You can follow Pastor Bryan on Twitter @bcloritts. 

Years at GLS 2014