How to turn execs into powerhouse speakers

Can your leaders tell stories to move audiences? Are they skilled at nonverbal communication? Do you help them prepare for audiences—even internal ones? Gather tips from the experts.

Influential leaders aren’t just people who know how to dream up a new product or run a business with a high profit margin.

They know how to communicate, to move audiences, to shape opinion inside and outside your organization with their words.

If you or your leaders are looking for new ways to do this, check out the free guide from Ragan and Kollective, “How to turn your exec into a brilliant public speaker.”

If your leader wants to engage employees and become a resonant voice in the industry, it’s essential for the leader—or you as executive communicator—to master three basic areas:

  • Storytelling. This powerful tool can enliven every presentation, from speeches to videos. How do you mine stories within your organization—or find inspiring anecdotes from the world beyond your office walls?
  • Nonverbal communication. Do you know how to communicate with your eyes and hands? Can you “scale your gestures” to fit a huge audience at an annual convention, or within the frame of a television or smartphone screen?
  • Preparation. It is better to skip a presentation than to go in without a clear understanding of the audience profile? Learn how to research it for sentiment and local references.

Determining goals

It is essential to find out what your principal wants the listener to feel after hearing the speech, watching the video or reading the op-ed, Drew Keller, president of, says in the guide.

When the principal understands the destination, “they understand what you’re trying to accomplish,” Keller says. “They say, ‘Oh, yeah, I had this thing happen to me when I was a kid.'”

The guide offers tips for collecting stories that could illustrate speeches. Anytime you hear or read a good story, write it down, clip it from the newspaper or cut and paste it in a file, says Rob Friedman, speechwriter and consultant. Here is the moment when the Wright Brothers figured out flight. Here is a light bulb moment for Thomas Edison.

“That’s part of the job: to look for stories,” Friedman says.

Learn ways to improve your nonverbal speaking skills with gestures, and how PowerPoints can provide a dynamic visual underscore to a speaker’s points—rather than distracting the audience.

The guide explains why executives must prepare for internal as well as external audiences. Top leaders may be insulated, mistakenly thinking the organization is running smoothly when it’s wobbling or worse, says Bill Corbett Jr. of Corbett Public Relations.

“A misinformed CEO who delivers a failed speech is not great job security for those who prepared him or her—or did not prepare them,” Corbett says.

Get your free guide here.

This article is in partnership with Kollective.


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