Posts Tagged ‘CEO speeches’

Research Before You Write! …. from smartCEO

smartceo_logoYou can pretty much sum up my January smartCEO Thought Leadership Piece in six words: A great speech starts with research.

Why? Because a generic, one-size-fits-all speech is guaranteed to bomb.

To engage an audience, your speech must be tailored to a specific time, place and set of listeners. You’ll find some suggestions on how to do that here.

The Award Director Michael Bay Doesn’t Want: Worst Speech of 2014

Michael Bay

Michael Bay

Michael Bay has directed special-effects-laden blockbuster movies (including the Transformer franchise) that have earned literally billions of dollars world wide. He’s won a lot of awards, too, of which I’m sure he’s very proud. But I don’t think he’ll be overjoyed should he learn that he is 2014’s recipient of the first ever “Worst Speech of the Year,” bestowed by all of us here at “The CEO at the Mic.”

The award is for his, um, presentation at last January’s gigantic Consumer Electronics Show. Samsung brought him out on stage before hundreds of journalists and industry professionals, packed in a Las Vegas hall, to sing the praises of the company’s ultra-high definition curved TVs . But apparently something went wrong with the teleprompter, and Bay flubbed his opening lines. He went mute for a second, then complained about the ‘prompter. The Samsung executive acting as MC tried very calmly to feed Bay his lines….but to no avail. Bay said, “I’m sorry,” and walked off the stage to stunned silence.

Mike, you have to prepare for theses things, dude.

In particular, if Bay were a reader of this column, he would have known these rules for effective executive speeches.

1. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

2. At the very least, memorize your key points so you can wing it in case technology fails, or you simply lose your speech.

3. Never, ever wait till the last minute.

“Start Strong or Die” Thought Leadership from smartCEO

smartceo_logoIn my latest article on smartCEO, I offer some tips on how to avoid this presentation nightmare.

You’ve just been introduced to an expectant audience as the CEO of a dynamic company. Your listeners looks up at you standing at the podium. You see their friendly faces, waiting for your words. And then you start the presentation.

Before long you see the tell-tale signs that you’re losing them: glum expressions, shifting in the seats, the furtive glances at cell phones. Then you get nervous and start to show it. Before long, it’s clear the presentation you had such high hopes for has turned into a lost opportunity to engage an important audience.

You’ll find the complete article here.


Great CEO Speeches: An Interview with Jan Fox

Jan Fox

Jan Fox

Simply put, Jan Fox – speech coach extraordinaire, four time Emmy winner, author, and keynoter – is a dynamo. If you get a chance to hear one of her presentations, do NOT miss it! She’s amazingly engaging and informative. I recently had the chance to talk with her about the changing role of CEO speeches in the business world.

JP: How important is public speaking for an executive?

JF: Research shows that public speaking is the number one way to grow business. I think that’s especially true for a local business. The best advertising is face to face, so a CEO has to find a platform where he or she can speak to an audience. If a CEO is or wants to be a thought leader, it’s all the more important to be seen and heard.

JP: There have been a lot of changes in business and in communications technology in recent years. What impact have they had on CEO speeches?

JF: Sequestration, the ups and downs of the economy, smaller staffs, bigger workloads…when there is so much change going on, how a top executive speaks about change will determine how the people will follow – employees, investors, customers.

At the same time, Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media have changed the way people respond to words. Now leaders have to be able to speak so their audiences can visualize what they’re talking about quickly. They have to speak in 12 -15 word sentences. Active voice. If they want the audience to remember anything they say, they have to use more stories. That can be very difficult for executives who are used to speaking in statistics and charts.

JP: As you know better than anyone, many CEOs are not only poor speakers, they are scared to even stand in front of an audience. How do you help them change?

JF: For me, the key is to find a starting point, to get my foot in the door. I never talk about the need to “get over your nerves,” I never use the phrases “self-confidence” or “self-esteem.”

Instead, I often coach from the outside in, looking for the small ways speakers are holding themselves in – clutching their elbows to their rib cages, crossing their hands over their belly buttons, their faces down as if to drool on their shoes. We make a few simple changes, they see themselves on a simple iphone video, and they start to feel more relaxed and confident.

JP: How do you build on those first small changes?

JF:I might have them throw away their script, and just write down a few words from each paragraph of the presentation. I’ll say, “Now just tell it to me.” I’ll show them how to build a visual power point – all pictures or graphics. They can look at the visual and say the whole speech without memorizing anything. They’re shocked that they can do it!

I’ll ask them, “What happens if you take a couple of steps to the right or left of the podium, and just tell people what you know, as if you were chatting with friends at a bar or in your living room?” They become “one of the group” – not alone at the front of the room.
At some point in the process — and you can never tell exactly where it will be – a light bulb comes on. They start to get it — to get comfortable with speaking. Once that light is on, everything else in the coaching process flows very smoothly. They won’t go back to being stiff, stilted, scared, and quickly forgotten.

To learn more from Jan Fox, check out her Web site, and her books and articles.

Thought Leadership on CEO Presentations from “smartCEO”


smartceo_logoYes, I’m now officially a “Thought Leader,” at least on smartCEO the web and magazine community for business leaders. You can read my first post on how great CEOs can give great presentations here. And you’ll find a ton of other useful information for CEOs on the site and in the pages, too.