Andy on Twitter

  • Very clever... A Microsoft Excel Artist ,
  • While the problem underlying M&A integration is big, Material Information Platforms implemented pre-transaction wil… ,
  • Wow... t/sheets acquired by Intuit ,
  • Way to start the morning. Beautiful Balmoral.. Balmoral Sailing Club ,
  • Bank inquiry puts global investment at risk: Westpac's David Lindberg.. spot on ,
  • Why are taxi apps so appalling. Slow, lousy interface, freeze... hopeless attempt to satisfy customers and so easily fixed,
  • should give us the option of only accepting drivers who aren’t on a job. Stop “forcing” drivers to take a job while on a job. ,
  • National looks more desperate every day. NZ is lucky to have a leader with this much experience. ,
  • Dennis clearly doesn’t understand that a BYO challenge for the last AC was well past 200m. Unless you sailed Oracle… ,
  • And that’s the point - Amazon is a boost to SMBs and entrepreneurs locked out by big retail. And so much for big br… ,
  • Little evidence in here of impact in meetings but suspect the same applies. Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lec… ,
  • To Grow Talent, Don’t Move Fast and Break Things — Move Slow and Build Them .. so right ,
  • Who cares if it is. NZs PM is doing the right thing. ,
  • Great win for and cool work by ,
  • The pressure to use all those extra characters is too much...,
  • Connect

The Speechmaker

imageBig speeches require a massive amount of effort.

Good communicators know this and smart executives commit to it.

The Wall Street Journal has a piece this morning on how Bill Gates developed his commencement address for Harvard.

What’s intriguing is how committed Bill is to the process – this is rare in an executive.

A couple of observations:

  1. Pick keynotes your execs can get passionate about. As much as you want to establish a sense of importance, it can only be important to them if it is important to them.
  2. Pick issues, topics, themes that those same execs can get really passionate about. Chances are it isn’t the industry you are in.
  3. Models are useful – speeches by others provide good context and illumination. In Bill’s case: “The speech, delivered at Harvard’s commencement on June 5, 1947, outlined the Marshall Plan, the bold economic relief program that lifted Europe from the ashes of World War II. To Mr. Gates, the general was describing the challenges facing postwar Europe in terms similar to how the software billionaire sees his own, 21st-century crusade: using philanthropy as a catalyst for reducing global inequities in health, wealth and education.”
  4. Tone is as important as content. Don’t confuse the Exec’s tone with the tone required for the audience and speech. Bill groked that: “In late May, Mr. Gates tapped Mr. Buffett again. He wanted to press graduates to become more aware and active in helping solve global inequities but was worried about sounding “overly preachy.” Mr. Gates went to Omaha, Neb., for the annual shareholders meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, Mr. Buffett’s company on which Mr. Gates serves as a board member. After the meeting, Mr. Buffett gave Mr. Gates some tips on delivery and tone.”
  5. The notion of the single speech writer might work in Political circles but you are going to have a greater chance of success by bringing in collaborators. In Bill’s case: “When he started working on the speech in December, he used as a sounding board a Gates Foundation staff member who had written for Slate, the online magazine started by Microsoft. The two traded outlines and drafts of the speech. By the end, Mr. Gates and his staff had met six times for brainstorming sessions, completed six drafts and traded many long emails. Mr. Gates wrote some of the longest ones himself.”
  6. And, no matter how good you are at collaborating and crafting the content, the exec has to be committed to molding the speech into something special. I’m not talking about the standard rehearsal the day or hour before. I’m talking about time spent on putting their thumb-print on it.

Speak Up — Add Your Thoughts

Connections

  • Connect
How did you connect?   [?]