What’s the problem with intelligent, personable CEOs who make terrible speeches? They suffer from “Al Gore Syndrome,” said freelance speechwriter Jeffrey Porro.
“Talk to any reporter who covered Al Gore in the presidential campaign of 2000,” said Porro. “They’ll tell you that in small private groups, Gore was relaxed, witty, brilliant. But as a public speaker, Gore was a disaster: stiff, awkward, uncomfortable—and uninspiring.”
Put an executive in front of a bank of cameras or a congressional hearing, Porro said, and suddenly the engaging guy his speechwriter knows turns into a nervous robot—”Al Gore 2000.”
What to do? Sometimes you must bow to the inevitable and bring in a speech trainer. But before you do that, Porro said, try these tactics to loosen up and humanize your executive:
1. Make the speech you’re working on personal. Find something that he or she cares about—something from their background they liked—and get them to talk about that. Their passion will instantly connect them to their audience.