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 speechwriting and public speaking 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.

Ep. 19. Get your hands dirty (and know your tools)

Roll up your sleeves... because this episode we talk about the tools of the public speaking trade. And one tool in particular: your microphone. Music: "Upbeat" by John Luc Hefferman. Used under a Creative Commons license. Photo: Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash [iframe...

Ep. 18. Prepare… even when you don’t have time

I'm all about encouraging speakers to prepare and rehearse — but let's face it. There are times when you just haven't had a moment to prepare, and now it's 10 minutes 'til stage time. So maybe this isn't going to be a virtuoso performance. But it can still be a really...

Ep. 17. Practice. No, really practice.

Think rehearsal and preparation kill your spontaneity? This episode could change your mind — by showing you how rehearsal actually frees you to make spontaneous choices in the moment. Tips, techniques... and an excuse to use coloured highlighters. What more could you...

Ep. 16. Don’t just read your speech. Perform it.

This episode, we pivot from speechwriting to speaking itself. And we start with the single biggest way most speakers can level up: authentic performance. Links: Steal the Show by Michael Port is a smashing book on speaking and performance. I reviewed it a while back,...

Ep. 15. How to get great feedback on your speech

How often have you asked for feedback with "let me know what you think"? If you're trying to spark conversation, it isn't a bad gambit. But if you want actionable feedback on your speech, you need to use a much more focused approach. Here's how to ask the right...

Ep. 14. Get your audience to expect more… of themselves.

Your speech has brought your audience on an emotional odyssey, and you've reached your narrative destination together. Now's the time to invite them to continue the journey themselves—with a powerful call to action and conclusion. And you can do it in four steps:...

Ep. 13. Don’t meet your audience’s expectations

...Wait, what? By all means, meet — or beat — your audience's expectations for what they'll get out of your speech. But not for what you put into it. Here's how to be surprising and unpredictable, but still reliable. Music: "Upbeat" by John Luc Hefferman. Used under a...

Ep. 12. Make your audience a little uncomfortable

Every instinct tells us to make our audiences comfortable. Yet a little discomfort can lead to some of the most powerful experiences your speech can offer. Here's how. Links: "Nanette" by Hannah Gadsby on Netflix, and Gadsby's speech on "The Good Men" Music: "Upbeat"...

Ep. 11. Use slides well… if at all

The world is full of speeches weighed down with terrible slide decks. Don't let yours be one of them. This episode, we look at how to make PowerPoint work well for you and your audience — and I make the case for not using slides at all. Links: Here are the books I...

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