8 secrets to help you speak like a CEO


Published on: June 2009

Written by: Suzanne Bates

When it comes to public speaking, you must speak well, but you must also have substance. You must look and sound like a leader.

The secret to speaking with impact is in how effectively you get the point across, and how you make a true connection with your audience. This begins with content – you can say a lot in just a few words, if those few words are well chosen!

Abraham Lincoln demonstrated this when he delivered his Gettysburg Address way back in 1863. That speech was 271 words, and it’s one of the best speeches ever written. The crowd hadn’t even come to hear President Lincoln; they were there to listen to country’s most famous speaker, Edward Everett, who talked for two hours. When Lincoln got up, he gave the address in three minutes. He persuaded the nation to fight on.

So the first secret to success is short speeches, big ideas.

Another secret to success is a focus on the future. Right after 9/11, Mayor Rudy Giuliani knew what to say when the rest of the world was still trying to figure out what had happened. He focused on hope and the future. The day of the tragedy, he told television cameras, “ The people in New York City will be whole again. We are going to come out of this emotionally stronger, politically stronger, much closer together as a city, and we’re going to come out of this economically stronger, too.”

Hope for the future is a potent message. When authentic leaders speak, they talk about what is possible. Your vision, your hope, your belief about the future sets the course for the organization.

Focus on the future, and people will go out and make it happen.

Here are 8 secrets from Speak Like a CEO, Secrets to Commanding Attention and Getting Results that will help any leader speak effectively and win over the audience:

1. Talk about big ideas – every speech or presentation needs one big idea that gets people excited and interested, and makes you memorable.

2. Speak in the moment – no one likes a canned speech – get your finger on the pulse of what your audience is thinking about.

3. Keep it simple – many speakers try to do too much. Your message should be simple and straightforward to be remembered.

4. Be a straight shooter – to speak like a leader, your message must ring true. Your audiences have “truth radar”.

5. Be an optimist – when you’re the leader people look to you to tell them what is possible.

6. Focus on the future – in good times and bad – people look to you to lay out a plan.

7. Be real – if you’re a leader with a big title, you have one strike against you – You need to be authentic, to connect.

8. Stand for something –people aren’t just going to work for a paycheck. Let them know your values – and why their work matters.

The true test of a great speech is whether it meets many or most of these criteria. If you start writing your talk with these in mind, you’ll soon be on the fast track to speaking with impact.

Each talk will help you win hearts and minds and become more influential.

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