Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

30 years ago this spring, I wrote my first speech as a professional — and started a career in leadership communications that has now spanned three decades.

To celebrate, I’ve launched a podcast: 30 short episodes with the key lessons I’ve learned in the business of planning, crafting and delivering powerful speeches. Check for the latest episode every Tuesday and Thursday.

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7. Use plain language… but not just plain language

7. Use plain language… but not just plain language

Plain language can make your speech a lot clearer, and allow your ideas and thinking to shine through. But there are times when speechwriters and speakers want to reach for the more complex words… and even use (gasp!) jargon.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

Links:

Photo: Raphael Schaller on Unsplash



Listen here

6. Defend your narrative arc

6. Defend your narrative arc

Between “helpful” suggestions from others and your own creativity, it often isn’t easy keeping a speech on topic and on track. Here are some tools for sticking to the path — and a few tips on handling unavoidable detours.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

Photo: Jamie Street on Unsplash



Listen here

Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

You’ve probably always been told to project confidence and certainty  when you’re speaking from the stage. But if you want to truly connect with your audience, a little vulnerability in your speech can go a long way.

Links: Probably the best-known writer and speaker on vulnerability is Brené Brown. If you want to explore more on the subject, check out her book Daring Greatly.

You might also like my blog post on how to know if you’re approaching vulnerability effectively — and authentically.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license

Photo: Snowflake photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash



Listen here

Ep. 4. Plot Your Emotional Arc

Ep. 4. Plot Your Emotional Arc

We’ve talked about your speech’s one big story, the narrative arc. But running in tandem with it is something at least as important to your audience: the emotional arc.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license

Photo: Simon Migaj on Unsplash



Listen here

Ep. 3. Tell one big story… with your audience as the hero.

Ep. 3. Tell one big story… with your audience as the hero.

There are almost as many ways to approach writing a speech as there are speeches. But each one boils down to a story — one where the audience can identify with the protagonist, and that pulls them forward to the conclusion. Here’s how to make your speech’s story a powerful, compelling one.

Music: Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license

Photo: From a talk at Interesting Vancouver 2014



Listen here

Ep. 2. Know your audience

Ep. 2. Know your audience

Before you can move an audience to where you’d like them to be, you need to know them. And that means a lot more than a head count. Here’s what to look for, and where to find it — so you know exactly how to reach and move them.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license



Listen here

7. Use plain language… but not just plain language

Plain language can make your speech a lot clearer, and allow your ideas and thinking to shine through. But there are times when speechwriters and speakers want to reach for the more complex words... and even use (gasp!) jargon. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman,...

6. Defend your narrative arc

Between "helpful" suggestions from others and your own creativity, it often isn't easy keeping a speech on topic and on track. Here are some tools for sticking to the path — and a few tips on handling unavoidable detours. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman, used...

Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

You've probably always been told to project confidence and certainty  when you're speaking from the stage. But if you want to truly connect with your audience, a little vulnerability in your speech can go a long way. Links: Probably the best-known writer and...

Ep. 4. Plot Your Emotional Arc

We've talked about your speech's one big story, the narrative arc. But running in tandem with it is something at least as important to your audience: the emotional arc. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial...

Ep. 3. Tell one big story… with your audience as the hero.

There are almost as many ways to approach writing a speech as there are speeches. But each one boils down to a story — one where the audience can identify with the protagonist, and that pulls them forward to the conclusion. Here's how to make your speech's story a...

Ep. 2. Know your audience

Before you can move an audience to where you'd like them to be, you need to know them. And that means a lot more than a head count. Here's what to look for, and where to find it — so you know exactly how to reach and move them. Music: "Upbeat" by Jon Luc Hefferman,...

Ep. 1: Know what you want to accomplish

The first thing you need to know before you start crafting a speech is this: what's your goal? What do you want your audience to think, feel and do at the end of your speech? Everything else follows from that. Links: One of my favourite speechwriting books: Dr. Nick...

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