Secrets of CEO speeches - What makes them impactful?
Great CEOs are able to resonate with their audience. It take a little more than savvy messages and clichés to make employees embrace the message of a company and be able to share that message with customers effectively.
Perhaps that is why you'll notice effective CEOs relying on a number of communication tools. They learn how to make their message align and effectively spread the company's pillars and cultural values, whether it is via emails, presentations, social media, or simply, how they interact in interpersonal settings. They know how to embody these values all the time, as opposed to doing it purely in isolated situations or when the camera is on.
But how does one do that? What makes a solid CEO speech - one that'll keep listeners engaged through and through?
The personal touch
A powerful trick used by everyone from Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is telling one's stories. Most often, you'll see company leaders resort to numbers and figures. Don't get us wrong - those are absolutely essential performance markers as well. But many of them either struggle to or avoid sharing their first-hand experiences with customers, employees and other stakeholders even when they know it'll help.
According to an article by Forbes magazine, CEOs are reluctant to share their stories because the inherent nature of the story involves hardship. It'll cover the many roadblocks and sacrifices the protagonist of the story - in this case, the CEO and how they overcome to get to this point in their life. This means admitting one's shortcomings to those who look up to you, which can seem counterintuitive.
On the contrary, though, accounts of setbacks generally serve to inspire people. Stories of struggle can move listeners and helps establish a deeper, mental connection with the one narrating them. A speech wherein an executive is transparent will build trust and boost relatability. Ultimately, it will encourage others to take action and do better.
Substance over style
Content is king. Stories and statistics alone don't make a compelling speech. It's the message within the speech and how it is being delivered that'll make all the difference.
A CEO must make sure to have a 'big idea' that the audience will remember even after the event is over; the central theme of your speech. Length doesn't matter, so long as there is longevity. Take cue from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: a mere 271 words in length. Yet, it is one of the most impactful speeches of all time.
Live in the moment
As per experts, what you are saying must directly apply to the audience. It should include what is happening at that moment. This is especially important at the start, when you want to persuade them.
For instance, if you're addressing doubts your team has regarding a project, start off by bringing up the challenges from the get-go. This will grab their attention and set a strong direction for your speech.
Be simple and straightforward to maintain attention throughout the speech.
Be on one page
When the speaker’s content of said speech and actions aren’t disjointed, the team members will be engaged. It is relevant, concise and presented in such a way that the CEO's charisma shines through, as does the true message of the brand they are leading.
Remember: the truth always rises to the top. If a CEO is incapable of delivering, be it in public speaking or otherwise, it will eventually begin to show and hamper their reputation. That's why we believe CEO branding is important and be carried through at every level of communication.
The fact is no one is born a great speaker. All of the world’s best orators were once beginners that became better by investing in themselves. You have the same opportunity. The work begins before the next time you're asked to get up on that podium. Implement these tips, and you will have better preparation and a greater opportunity to be successful.