Archive for the ‘CEO blogs’ Category

Adventures in Leadership

adventure-bookI can say for certain that I’ve never before written a post about somebody who has spent twenty years crisscrossing the continents to climb the world’s highest mountains. Seattle’s Matt Walker has done just that, but what makes him of interest to “The CEO at the Mic,” is the insight he gained at 24,000 feet during one moonlight in the Himalayas: that the essence of adventure could be a powerful tool to connect people with their leadership potential.

Now Matt helps people make that connection, strengthening their leadership qualities through keynotes, workshops, and team building adventure exercises. On his blog he also profiles experts who could be helpful to leaders looking to step up their game. Recently he was kind enough to include me. The interview was a great experience, and I think you’ll find it useful.

Here’s a preview:

Okay… is it really possible to improve a speech simply by using different words?

Absolutely. Speechwriting is writing for the ear. That is much different than writing for the eye, which is what you do when you produce an article or an annual report.

The complete interview is here.

My thanks to Matt.

Worst Business Cliche’s of 2016

clichesOne of the joys of January is the appearance of the “Annual List of the Worst Business Clichés,” compiled by PR pro Rob Deigh. Deigh produces his list every year to encourage every writer to get rid of “those fetid phrases that dull our otherwise-brilliant conversations and writing.”

I have to admit that the list also usually makes me feel a little embarrassed. You see, every once in a great, great while a couple of those clichés crept into speeches I wrote. I’ll blame the client for that.

You can find the full 2016 list on Deigh’s website, but here are the some of the ones I see popping up all too regularly these days. (Deigh’s punchier, clearer alternatives are in parens.)

  • It is what it is (the facts are)
  • Circle back (discuss again)
  • Touch base (contact)
  • Close the loop (tell everyone involved)
  • At the end of the day (ultimately)
  •  Mission critical (essential)

Seeing these clunky words and phrases compiled in a single list makes me want to add another resolution to my New Year’s goals:

Work harder to stamp out cliche’s in my work.

After all, it’s a no-brainer, right?

 

Check out Robb Deigh’s book, How Come No One Knows About Us?

Inspiration is More than Information

onion_logoIn a recent blog post, Pete Weissman, award-winning speechwriter and speaker who is founder of Thought Leader Communications, uses an Onion headline to make a great point about CEO communication.

The headline: “Jim Caldwell Provides Lions Players with Printouts of Inspiring Halftime Speech.” Weissman notes that while using a printed speech to inspire a football team would be a ridiculously terrible idea, CEOs often do something almost as bad: they try to inspire by overloading their audience with information.

“[H]ow many times have you sat through a presentation where the speaker filled every inch of the PowerPoint slide with text and expected to somehow inspire you?” he asks. The answer, of course, is `way too often.’

To inspire, a CEO has got to go way beyond assembling facts and reciting statistics. To give a speech that fires up employees and staff, Weissman recommends CEOs start by asking themselves three questions:

Does my speech have a good balance between appealing to the head and appealing to the heart?

Will delivering this speech “rally the troops” much more than just handing them a printout of the text?

Does the conclusion of my speech lift up the audience’s spirits?

 

If the answers to these questions is “no,” the chances are better that your speech will wind up in The Onion than in Vital Speeches of the Day.

John Mattone’s Expert Interview: Jeff Porro on Speechwriting

mattone logoMy thanks to John Mattone for profiling me as part of the “Expert Interview” feature of his blog. Mattone is a powerfully engaging, internationally-acclaimed keynote speaker and top-ranked executive coach. He is also widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on corporate culture, culture transformation and leadership. (You can learn more about Mattone’s experience and publications here.)

His interviews highlight experts who help executives take their leadership skills to the next level. It was a great interview to do, and I hope you find it useful.

Here’s a preview:

When should leaders and executives consider hiring a professional writer?

Whenever executives find they are not engaging their key audiences — inspiring them, moving them to action, persuading them — it’s time to hire a pro.

You’ll find the whole interview here.

 

Leading Voices: Rohit Bhargava, Trend Curator and Professional Speaker

Rohit Bhargava

Rohit Bhargava

In this space, we profile top executives who use the spoken word effectively as part of their corporate communication strategy

Rohit Bhargava is a man of so many talents and accomplishments that listing them all would fill this entire blog entry. The short version is that he is a “non-obvious” trend curator, founder of the Influential Marketing Group, and an expert in helping brands and leaders be more influential. He is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books, has advised hundreds of global brands and teaches marketing at Georgetown University.
AND….he is the first executive featured in Leading Voices who not only uses the spoken word as a corporate communication strategy, but also generates revenue through his speeches.
Bhargava says that he “sort of fell into” the professional speaking part of his business. . “Over time, it was like going from waiting tables to starting a restaurant,” he says. He began his career as a writer, a pioneer branding and marketing blogger in the early years of the century. As the audience for his blogging grew, he started getting invited to be on panels – giving short presentations for free. After a few panel presentations, he realized “I had to find a way to stand out. Otherwise I was just wasting time by being forgettable.”
Once he got a reputation as a good speaker, he went from being a panel member, to being a panel moderator, to being asked to give solo presentations.
At first, these weren’t paid, but they were always an effective marketing tool. Moreover, the presentations gave Bhargava the chance to learn some important lessons about the spoken word. “I realized I had to tell more stories,” he says. “I learned to introduce complex themes at the start of my talk, and then come back to them. And I started to control my own visuals.”
As he developed his craft and his reputation continued to grow, instead of giving solo presentations for free he was delivering keynote addresses for pay, which is now an important income stream for him.
Among the keys to his current success as a speaker, Bhargava says, is that he insists on having an in-depth preparatory meeting or phone call with the organizers of each event. “I want to learn as much as possible about the audience.” In particular, he wants to hear from organizers, ‘What would you want the people listening to think or do differently as a result of hearing me speak.”
He also asks if there are sensitive topics or events he should stay away from. And he makes sure to ask what the audience might have heard before, and especially “what sounds clichéd to them.”
He enjoys the speaking part of his business, and is often asked by other executives or writers for advice on becoming speakers. First and foremost, Bhargava says, “Speaking leads to more speaking. If you have a chance to get in front of an audience – paid or unpaid – grab it.” Gradually, you’ll build a reputation, which can lead to for-pay opportunities.
He also strongly advises, “Get some good video of yourself. Not everyone can see you in person, but anybody who is thinking about booking you will want to see video.”
He emphasizes that he does mean good video. “Because it is so easy to get video these days, people who book speakers expect you to provide high quality video. So definitely avoid low quality phone photography.” Instead, invest in a professional videographer.
The spoken word is an important communication tool for every executive. Bhargava’s experience shows that for some it can be a key part of their business offerings, too.