Posts Tagged ‘Lee Iacocca’

Too Many Wrong Kinds of Speeches, Too Few of The Right Ones

CW imagesDavid Murray — editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, executive director of the Professional Speechwriters Association, and a friend– has a great piece in  IABC’s Communication World Magazine. He argues that leaders are “giving far too many of the wrong kinds of speeches, and far too few of the right ones.”

The problem is that CEOs and other top executives don’t yet realize role of a leader’s speech “has changed as much during the last decade as it did during the last several centuries.”

The advent of modern communications technologies means it is no longer necessary for a leader to go in front of a group of people simply to convey information. YouTube, blogs, on Twitter, and other social media channels can do that really, really well.

Instead, Murray says, leaders should stand at the podium only when they have an urgent message to convey to a crucial audience. Sadly, most leaders don’t take that approach, which is why we’ve all had to sit through boring presentations, rambling on-stage interviews, and deadly PowerPoint talks.

Interestingly, master communicator Lee Iacocca understood the difference between the right kind of CEO speech and the wrong one, long before the social media age.  In 1994 he wrote, “In every speech I give the object is to motivate. You can deliver information in a letter or tack it on a bulletin board.”


Lessons from Lee Iaccoca

iacoccaLee Iacocca, former head of Chrysler, was certainly the first and arguably the biggest CEO “rock star.” And most analysts agree a key ingredient—what Iacocca himself called “my most important management tool” —was the spoken word. “I used that tool every day,” Iacocca wrote.

To better understand how he used words, I interviewed two men who wrote speeches and presentations for the former Chrysler head: Mike Morrison and Alex Tsigdinos. The result is an article you’ll find on the website of Ragan Communications.

One of the key points made by Morrison, Chrysler’s vice president of corporate communications from 1984 to 1999. was that Iaccoca knew “a good speech is a story.” Iacocca, Morrison said, knew that everything having to do with communication was a story. “Iacocca was a great at telling stories with a beginning, a strong middle, and an end.”

For too many of today’s CEOs, a speech is what Morrison called “just a matter of reciting data, of listing serial events.”

You can read more here.