Executives in many industries are dealing with increased media scrutiny, staff accountability issues, corporate compliance complaints and enterprise-wide problems. Anything they say or do can be criticized, tweeted and challenged in court. The level of liability and transparency that is demanded by society and the government means that executives need support on how, what, when and where to express themselves.
Forbes magazine notes that using power and influence to control others often backfires. Instead, a warm greeting, friendly manner and sense of humor are all important characteristics for leaders. Executives who work in stressful environments or execute change management activities must quickly establish rapport and help staff proactively modify their behaviors. Empowering and respecting others will overcome perceived barriers. Business leaders who excel at informal dialogue will motivate management, connect with employees and earn the trust of shareholders.
Value and Brand Communication
Whenever executives talk about their company’s value, brand and mission, they should use strong and engaging storytelling techniques. Senior leaders need to use meaningful stories, personal anecdotes and simple statistics to infuse their speeches with energy and their listening audiences with enthusiasm. Storytelling skills will personalize conceptual data, complex facts and commercial information. Brand image, marketing power and industry reputation are impacted by the executive’s ability to quickly individualize topics and generalize technical content.
The Executive King’s Speech
Speech writing skills are important for any executive because they need to have a clear understanding of their content, target audience, expected outcomes and desired calls-to-action. Most executives will receive assistance with drafting speeches, but they need the advanced skills in order to optimize the editing process. They should know how to ask consultative questions, adjust content to audiences and research the desired action for stakeholders. Speech writing training will come in handy when executives are asked to make ad hoc presentations.
During difficult times of uncertainty, executives should feel comfortable with explaining that they do not have all of the answers, but they should work with others to discover solutions. There are many excellent resources for business leaders to hone their communication skills.
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