Have you heard the one about the chief executive who signed up for an improv class to get rid of his stuffy communications style?
Or how about the senior vice president who agreed to take a pie in the face to boost the cause of clear communications?
A new, free tip sheet from Kollective and Ragan Communications, “10 ways to enliven senor executives’ communications,” offers ideas to help you turn a stilted upper-level executive from a dud into a dynamo.
The sheet offers a range of tactics to loosen up senior executives who bog down their communications with the jargon, buzzwords, corporate stiffness and general awkwardness.
“The ‘lightening up’ process should begin in the executive’s day-to-day interactions,” says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better. “There is no reason for people to use jargon in any context—not in reports, not in meetings, not anywhere.”
The tip sheet details ways to help top leaders expand their reach and get the attention of their audiences, whether they’re making a presentation or shooting a video. The practical tips will help relax your leaders before you record that video message or send them out in front of an audience.
Though crafted for executive communicators and their leaders, the guide also offers tips any comms pro can learn from, such as how to pry jargon-free quotes and information from technical experts with the help of a 3″-by-5″ index card.
Avoiding the terminology trap
Often, stilted communications result from a misguided desire to sound super-smart. Executives should avoid the temptation to load up their speeches, blog posts and video statements with insider terminology that doesn’t mean anything to a wider audience.
“Encourage balance: Remind executives to balance facts and feelings to seem more relatable and trustworthy,” says executive consultant Lisa Goller.
Learn how to become a “biographer” for your executive. Telling personal stories is a crucial connectors between executives and audiences, says Dave Racine, director of PR at Prefix Public Relations.
“While a well-told personal story isn’t necessarily conversational in that dialogue is exchanged, it is a technique that may open the opportunity for conversation from one employee to another,” Racine says.
Find out how visual elements can break the ice, entertain the audience and reinforce key points. And read about what made a stuffy executive soften his approach when discussing acquisitions with employees.