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

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.

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.

Ep. 10. Ease up on the statistics

A flood of statistics can lose your audience. Let’s talk about how to chose a gem of a statistic and put it in the perfect setting… and then make it part of what drives your story, instead of dragging it off course.

Ep. 9. Suspense!

One of the most effective ways a speech can hold an audience’s attention is suspense. And withholding a little information can whet their appetite for the answer to the question, “What happens next?”

Ep. 8: Consider all of your audiences

The folks in the room are just one of the audiences your speech is going to reach. Here’s how to think through who else may be listening in… and how you’ll account for them when you’re writing your speech.

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.

Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

Confidence isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you want to truly connect with your audience, a little vulnerability in your speech can go a long way.

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