In too many companies …

  • speech invitations are accepted without a strategy,
  • speech preparation is left for the last minute, and
  • messages are not tailored to specific audiences.

Other times, speeches are only heard in the room where they are delivered.

In addition, a company may miss hundreds of other opportunities to communicate throughout the year because it has not equipped or encouraged other company leaders to speak externally

6 Best Practices in Executive Communications

So, what does it take to move executive communications to the next level?

Below are six best practices in executive communications.  While no company does all of these expertly, they represent the ideal qualities of a mature executive communications function.

  • Strategic

    A CEO has limited time to prepare and deliver speeches.  Therefore, every speech should advance the company’s objectives and reach the right audience with the right message.

    Sometimes, when my partners and I are called on to prepare a speech, no one in the company knows why the CEO is speaking to this audience or how this speech drives the company’s objectives.  By taking a strategic approach, we eliminate those “one-offs” and make the best use of the CEO’s time.

  • Consistent

    For audiences to understand and believe a message, it must be repeated consistently.  Often, we create a “stump speech,” so the CEO always has a solid, familiar message ready to deliver.

  • Proactive

    Another best practice is to proactively manage the CEO’s speaking calendar.

    Seek Out Strategic Audiences:  Effective leaders do not just choose from the speaking invitations they receive.  Instead, they seek out the audiences and venues that meet their strategic objectives.  We can identify ideal venues.  We can also create an “Event Scorecard” to help you evaluate speaking opportunities.

    Maximize Announcements:  We recommend “saving” announcements (such as new partnerships, investments, or expansions), so they can be announced by the CEO in a speech.  Often, an announcement made in person by a CEO can generate more news coverage than an announcement made via press release.

    Avoid Last-Minute Jobs:  Being proactive also eliminates last minute speech assignments and the chaos they cause.  It ensures that the CEO has enough time to get comfortable with the draft.

    Maximize Out-of-Town Speeches:  Given the expense and opportunity costs of an out-of-town speech, we recommend pairing a speech with other events such as media interviews and meetings with local employees, customers or suppliers.

    Message Drives Format:  Sometimes a speech is not the ideal way to deliver a message. The message and audience should drive the choice of format.  In some cases, a “fireside chat” at an industry conference or a Q&A column in a key trade publication is a more effective way to deliver a message.

    Streamlined: A company’s internal process for speeches should be clear and efficient, which will eliminate unnecessary rewrites.

  • Leveraged

    Too often, executive speeches only reach the people sitting in the immediate audience.  We look for ways to reach additional audiences, such as having the speech reprinted, repurposed into a column, or featured online.

  • Multi-Level

    CEOs have the biggest megaphone to deliver a message.  However, no single CEO can be everywhere.  Two groups can play a supporting role:

    • other C-suite executives
    • and company leaders in other cities.

    C-Suite Speakers:  A best practice is to enlist other C-Suite officers to speak at events that are relevant for their function (i.e. the chief research officer speaks at select research events, etc).  Speeches by other officers support the CEO’s message, but illustrate it in ways that are relevant for the specific function.

    Speakers’ Bureau:  Another best practice is to provide local and regional managers with the tools so that they can speak in their communities.  We can create a “Speech in a Box,” so that anyone from the company can speak at local events and share the company’s message.  This is very effective when the regional leader is a major local employer and has a path into business and university forums.  Often a local leader has strong credibility with local audiences, which is especially important for large companies.

  • Thought Leading

    An effective executive communication program does more than just deliver messages. It helps elevate leaders to the next level of visibility, vision and respect. It ensures that executives are bringing new and engaging ideas to the right audiences. It changes the way people think about an organization.  Finally, it reshapes the landscape, so a company can achieve its goals. This is the most challenging best practice to put in place. We take a unique approach.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us.