Quick Q&A With . . . Sodexo CEO George Chavel

logo_Sodexo_fcI spoke recently with George Chavel, president and CEO of Gaithersburg-based Sodexo North America to get his thoughts on executives’ speeches, for my column in the Washington Business Journal, Speaking to Rise.

What are some of the techniques you use in given a speech or presentation?

GC: One thing I try to do is to illustrate a general point I’m making with a real-life story — something I’ve experienced myself or that I’ve heard about from a colleague. I find if I can relate to a story, I’m more comfortable presenting it, and it is easier for me to connect with an audience.

How do you prepare for a key speech or presentation?

GC: First, I practice, over and over until I’m absolutely comfortable with the timing and the delivery. This is especially important for me because I prefer to use bullet points instead of a word-for-word script. I also make sure to have some of my colleagues — people I can trust to give an honest reaction — listen to the presentation. I’ve even checked with my teenage sons, who I know will tell me what they really think.

How important are speeches and presentations to Sodexo’s communications strategy?

GC:We have a diverse and decentralized work force of 125,000 and 6,000 clients spread over three countries in North America. So we use every communications method and technology. But you can’t operate a service industry without emphasizing face-to-face communication, everything from one-on-one talks with clients to speeches to large groups of employees and suppliers.

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