Posts Tagged ‘Pete Weissman’

Back to School/Summer Round-up

pencil-918449_640If you’re an executive with an association, chamber of commerce, or other nonprofit, I highly recommend you check out the Institute for Organization Management, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The Institute is designed to help leaders take their management skills to an even higher level, by offering a curriculum of courses and lively discussion at university campuses around the country.  Click here to learn more. I had the chance to teach a couple courses this summer (on communications and branding) at the Institute session at the University of Georgia. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I could see how much the attendees were learning and connecting.

I also got the chance this summer to work with Pete Weissman, a true thought leader himself who heads Thought Leader Communications. It was a bit like a graduate course on financial services, but with tighter deadlines.

In addition, with any luck, my drafted words will be heard for the first time ever by a Chinese audience this fall. In researching a presentation for a U.S CEO this summer, I learned some surprising things about speeches by China’s leaders, which I will share in a future post.

And finally, check one more item off the bucket list. I took a stand-up comedy class, and did a five minute set at The Improv here in DC. I was on the same stage where once stood everybody from Dave Chapelle to Jim Gaffigan. The biggest surprise was that I learned some lessons about speech writing, as well as about telling jokes. Stay tuned for those, too.

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.

Advice from a Great Speechwriter: Beware the Audience Outside the Room

toastmastersAt the recent Toastmasters International Convention in Florida, friend and speechwriter colleague Pete Weissman gave a terrific address that offered wonderful strategies and tactics for successful speeches. Pete has worked inside the White House and United States Senate and for some of the world’s top companies. I’ll post the video of his remarks, when it’s available next month. For now, here are just a sample of his insights.

In this “Age of Social Media” — you’re never just speaking to the people in the room.  Someone is always recording,  blogging tweeting. So speechwriters have to understand how a message will be interpreted by audiences that are not even in the same room or on the same continent.

Speechwriters are bridge builders. We connect the speaker’s ideas with the audience’s interest.We turn what the speaker wants to say into something the audience wants to hear.

If you want an audience to follow your ideas, you’ve got meet them where they are. That means understanding your listeners’ biggest problems and sharing a solution that’s drawn from your unique perspective and expertise.