Few things create a more vivid perception of an executive than his speaking ability. The higher execs rise in an organization, the more frequently they are called upon to address others. Ironically, little or no training is given hapless executives to develop this skill. If they become good at public speaking, it is either a gift of genetics, they get lucky, or a combination of both.
Increasingly leaders are realizing their need for skills development that falls outside of what is typically offered by their organizations. That is one reason why executive coaching has become so popular. Often one of the primary areas coaches focus on is communication, both interpersonal and public.
As a professional who makes his living giving speeches and seminars, I’ve sat through hundreds if not thousands of executive presentations. More often than not, the speeches I’ve heard businesspeople make were less than memorable. And far too often the presentations were painful, not only for the speaker to give, but for the audience to feign interest through.
The majority of executive presenters, even those who flopped dramatically, were well- intentioned. Nobody sets out to destroy her credibility with a bad presentation. So why do people fail in spite of noble intentions?
Intention requires technique to be successfully communicated. It doesn’t matter how well you want to hit the golf ball. Only good form and practiced skill allow you to consistently do so. Public speaking is no different.
I am puzzled why so many seem to think that speaking well in front of an audience is a natural skill. Public speaking, like all skills, is developed. The more often one speaks, the better one becomes if–and this is a big if–he focuses on eliminating undesirable behaviors and developing needed ones.
The fastest gain that can be made in improving your ability to speak well is to eliminate those things that cause disaster. While I’ve observed great creativity in flopping, there are seven common reasons why executive speakers fail. I’ll explain those reasons and what to do about them.