The year is not even half over and already we have a leader in the competition for “The CEO at the Mic’s” Worst Speech of the Year Award. In May, former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld gave his first speech since the 2008 financial crisis. Fuld’s mistakes as CEO have been widely blamed for the collapse of the firm, which precipitated the near collapse of the economy.
Most observers were critical of the speech, marveling at Fuld’s failure to mention the thousands of Lehman employees who lost their life savings, and his total lack of remorse. “Whatever it is, enjoy the ride. No regrets,” Fuld said. One article on the speech was titled “Lehman Brothers ex-CEO Blames Everyone Else.” Fuld also lost his cool when he wasn’t get the response he wanted from the audience and made clear he was angry at his listeners.
Mark Macias, who runs a global public-relations firm, Macias PR, summed up the speech this way, “In the future, I will probably use Fuld’s speech as an example of what NOT to do when trying to soften your image or reintroduce your brand to the public.”
Hollywood director Michael Bay set the bar high when he won our inaugural award in 2014, for his disastrous “presentation” at the Consumer Electronics Show. But Fuld’s performance could be tough to beat in 2015.
Andrew Gilman, President & CEO, CommCore Consulting Group offers some very pointed advice to clients who need help giving better presentations: speak like a human being. Too often, he says, presenters abandon their relaxed, natural speaking style and instead adopt stilted verbiage, awkward body language and other bad habits, which quickly put audiences to sleep.
That’s the spirit behind this great new video CommCore put together, which cleverly uses humor to show what can go terribly, terribly wrong if you don’t present like a normal human.
- CEO reputation is more important than ever to the success of a company, and
- Public speaking is a critically important tool for CEOs who want to build or strengthen their reputations.
These are just two of the fascinating findings from The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era. It’s the latest study on CEO reputation from Weber Shandwick, in partnership with KRC Research.
The report, from WS’s Chief Reputation Strategist Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross and others, finds that 81% of global executives believe external CEO engagement is now a mandate for building company reputation. Executives also strongly believe that their own CEO’s reputation contributes to nearly half of their company’s market value.
The whole report is well worth a read. Here are some of the highlights:
Highly regarded CEOs are good at external relations.
82% of executives believe that it’s most important for CEOs to speak at external events, and particularly at industry-related events.
CEOs should exercise caution when taking a public stance on policy
To bolster the CEO’s reputation, the CEO’s message or vision can be embedded in a compelling story that delineates the greater purpose behind the company.
Almost every time I give a presentation on how to “Communicate Better to Grow Your Business,” someone asks for advice on how to use PowerPoint effectively. My basic response is, think about all the terrible PowerPoint presentations you’ve sat through, and don’t do what those presenters did.
More seriously, I tell people that there are a ton of excellent articles, posts and even presentations on the Web describing the good and bad ways to use slides and other visual elements. Here are three I find especially useful:
- My friend and true “trade show magician,” Charles Greene, wrote this terrific blog post a few years ago. He offers very clear, pointed advice on how to avoid “death by PowerPoint” and instead take your audience with you on a pleasurable road trip through your presentation.
- It makes sense that the American Speech Language Hearing Association would know a thing or two about effective presentations. Here they boil their PowerPoint advice down to a terrific list of Do’s and Don’t’s.
- Finally, you should definitely read this e-booklet by marketing guru supreme, Seth Godin. With witty prose, and plenty of examples, he describes how to avoid “Really Bad PowerPoint.”
With CEO firings peaking in 2014, top executives have to be thinking about how best to protect their jobs. In my latest Thought Leadership post for smartCEO, I point out how critically important to CEO job security is the ability to communicate a clear vision. You’ll find the article here.