Situation: New CEO. Scientist. Introvert. Reputation for being aloof and unapproachable.
Engagement Objective: To help him get comfortable being filmed for a series of employee communications videos as a way to share company strategy and introduce him to employees.
Coaching Relationship: First, I took some time to do an intake and learn about his typical public speaking engagements, his prep style, and his preferences. We established that he is a full-script/teleprompter user; he is not comfortable winging it or using just bullet points. I then shared with him the SmartMouth proprietary approach and framework for thinking through his messaging and organizing his content. He got it immediately. Ultimately, we worked on developing his leadership “voice” – open, direct, crisp and very authentic to his natural speaking style. And finally, we made some minor adjustments to his delivery style so that he appeared more relaxed on camera.
Result: He has confidently settled into his CEO voice. Employees randomly and frequently greet and talk with him in the hallways. He runs better meetings, makes better speeches, and leaves a more commanding first impression with audiences.
Situation: Established CEO. Charismatic. Extrovert. Appointed to high-profile board of national industry organization.
Engagement Objective: To polish his public speaking skills and help move him from a folksy off-the-cuff style to a more commanding and concise style so that his message is always deliberate and clear. He was self-conscious about his speaking style, and the national board appointment made this undertaking more urgent for him.
Coaching Relationship: I got to know him and his background, had him share anecdotes and even re-enact recent talks he had given, and began to identify what exactly we would work on together. Interestingly, I advocated for him to keep the folksy style that he wanted to eliminate. Instead, I offered him quick preparation strategies and some structure. He downloaded the “SmartMouth Public Speaking Toolkit” mobile app to his iPad and iPhone, and we worked on understanding and then using each of the speech elements in the SmartMouth framework. In particular, I showed him exactly where his folksy stories would fit in when building an outline and also how to prioritize the information he shares so that his message is never lost.
Result: He now prepares ahead, feels good, and gets great feedback when he speaks. He is notoriously concise and to the point, winning huge kudos for that from his board of directors. And he goes off to large national meetings in Washington, D.C. and New York, knowing he can hold his own against the best.
Situation: Lobbyist for prominent nonprofit. Experienced. Smart. Personable. Feeling tongue-tied and long-winded in front of groups.
Engagement Objective: To harness her experience, knowledge of issues, and noble intentions into articulate presentations of her ideas and proposals.
Coaching Relationship: It did not take long to figure out that where she got hamstrung was in her openings. Getting started was her challenge. Through my own on-site observations and with the benefit of feedback provided by her colleagues, I quickly learned that when she got off to a good start, it went well and she made her point; if she rambled or meandered from the start, it went awry and the audience was lost. This was an easy challenge to address. We worked on her openings. Openings for general updates she needed to deliver, openings for an ask she needed to make, openings for welcome or introductory remarks. We sorted the various elements that go into openings and shaped them into modular formats that she could easily picture in her mind. Then she practiced, with me and on the job. She would often come to a coaching session and relay exactly what she had done right or wrong in specific situations. I eventually got to sit back and watch her coach herself!
Result: Even when she gets called on to speak on the spot, with less than a minute to prepare, her mind goes immediately to the key elements of her opening. Have the ability to formulate strong, focused openings has not only made her presentations more impactful, but it has also bolstered her confidence.