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.

Ep. 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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