Speaking With Consistent, Integrated Voices

Integrating what you say throughout your organization has never been more important to your credibility and your reputation.

Messages now spread out over multiple channels, making it essential to speak with a consistent voice.

What you say to Wall Street better match what you tell your employees. Promises you make to a community should be reflected in actions you take in your operations.

Before the Internet, you might have been able to fudge. Not any more. Employees, customers, stakeholders and community members have access to information from a number of sources. They can track down your dissembling. And they can make you pay for it.

Blogs, websites and social media provide convenient platforms to share critical comments. You can be skewered before breakfast.

Engaging Mommy Bloggers

Note: Reprised from November 28, 2008 with updated material.

An established, powerful group of influencers that are a vital branch of the social media tree are alpha moms. Acting independently, members of this little known, but highly motivated group, are shaping consumer attitudes. Have you been good to your alpha mom lately?

Companies now routinely monitor bloggers who write about products in their industry and send the most influential bloggers products for review. Alpha moms are a highly targeted group of bloggers whom an increasing number of companies turn to for reviews, rather than relying on traditional media, such as newspaper or magazine reporters.

According to Chalene Li and Josh Bernoff, authors of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” alpha moms are highly active mothers who have at least $55,000 in household income, with some college education and favorable attitudes toward family and technology. They account for about 2.5 percent of all online adults.

Raising Your Voice, Part 4

(The fourth in a series on effective public speaking.)

In today’s high-tech world, it sometimes seems there are far fewer traditional speeches and far more “PowerPoint presentations.” Indeed, while we have not yet seen a State of the Union Address or a Presidential Inaugural speech featuring a PowerPoint, I suspect it won’t be long before we do.

While PowerPoints do have some built-in advantages in terms of securing and holding the attention of an audience, there also are pitfalls that must be avoided if you are to best use these advantages to deliver a compelling and memorable presentation. Here are a few basic tips for effective PowerPoint presentations. (Please imagine that these tips are being projected on a large screen in front of you.)

Raising Your Voice, Part 3

(The third in a series on effective public speaking.)

A few years back, I helped my former boss Bob Dole with a book called “Great Presidential Wit: I wish I was in this Book.” The research for the project involved studying the joke-telling ability and wit of our presidents, as we provided in the book the first ever ranking of presidents by their sense of humor.

What we discovered, interestingly enough, was that the presidents we ranked as the ones with the worst sense of humor – Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and Benjamin Harrison – were presidents that historians have ranked as some of the biggest failures. Conversely, the presidents we ranked as having the best sense of humor – Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, as well as Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt – were considered by historians as some of our most successful.

Raising Your Voice, Part 2

(The second in a series on effective public speaking.)

On my first day on the job as Director of Speechwriting to then U.S. Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole, Mrs. Dole handed me a file that contained 25 or so quotations that she found particularly eloquent.

During the course of my years writing for her at the Department of Labor and later at the American Red Cross, we continued to add to that file whenever one of us found a quote we liked. Eventually, our file grew so large that the folks at Avalon Publishing asked Mrs. Dole to share our file in book form, and “Hearts Touched With Fire; My 500 Favorite Inspirational Quotations” was published in 2004.

Raising Your Voice

The first in an occasional series on effective public speaking.

When business leaders are asked what characteristics they are looking for in potential employees, one of the most frequent responses is the ability to communicate effectively. When Americans are asked to list the things that they fear the most, the most popular answers are always snakes, the dark, high places and speaking in public. Obviously, there is a disconnect here.

Throughout my quarter-century career in the public and private sector, I have had the privilege of writing hundreds of speeches for political leaders, and giving hundreds more myself. On several occasions, I have even given a speech about writing a speech. The bottom line is that while I do confess to hating snakes, I have no fear of public speaking. If a few simple principles are kept in mind, there is no reason why anyone should be afraid of public speaking.

If the most important principle in real estate is location, location, location, the most important principle in effective public speaking is preparation, preparation, preparation.

Preparation calms the pre-speech butterflies that invariably reside in the stomach of the most accomplished speakers. Preparation is also proof that you, the speaker, respect your audience. I have always believed that if people are giving up their valuable time to hear someone speak, then the speaker owes them the courtesy of learning something about them.