3 Ways for PR Pros to Brace the Boss for a Major Speech

Media Relations
Barack Obama 12.01.16

President Obama delivers his final State of the Union Address Tuesday night, with the fight against international terrorism expected to take center stage.  A lot is riding on the speech, which will help set the tone for the rest of Obama’s term in the Oval Office as well as the 2016 presidential election.

The president, of course, will address several audiences, including Congress, the American public, the media and U.S. allies. He probably won’t rattle off a litany of legislative efforts, but focus on larger themes facing the nation, according to the New York Times, namely terrorism.  It’s Obama’s final State of the Union Address, and he’s got to make it sharp one if he wants it to burnish his legacy.

With that in mind, here are three ways that senior PR pros and communicators can help prepare C-suite executives and other senior managers for a major speech or presentation that needs to reflect well on the brand or organization:

Know what you’re Selling

Have a laser-like focus on the major theme of the speech and don’t deviate from that point because it only will muddy the water. Use declarative sentences, along with easy examples of how the company/organization/nonprofit will help its constituents and/or customers.

Don’t get bogged down in the details. Don’t over promise and don’t embellish. The speech will be recorded, and quite possibly deconstructed by competitors. Keep that in mind, and don’t leave even one word to mystery.

Know your Outcomes

In simple and conversational language, tell the audience where the company is headed and how it intends to get there. Be candid about any potential obstacles and how the company will deal with them.

Giving audiences a cold-eyed and honest assessment of the situation will go much further, in terms of support and believably, than communicating vagaries and half-thoughts. 

Keep it (relatively) Brief

Remember, the Gettysburg Address is only 300 words or so. And, with apologies to Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”  Sure, it’s a huge speech, but that doesn’t mean you have to make people’s eyes glaze over. Indeed, because it’s a significant speech you probably want to keep it around a half-hour max and not add any extraneous comments.

You don’t want to give the audience an opportunity to tune out the CEO, and that comes with keeping things brief and on point.

What would you add to the list?

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