Executive Speaker Coaching: Surviving Content Development

Great creative events demand executive speaker coaching and content development that is every bit as prepared for release as the product or services.  Fifth installment of 15-part White Paper series on BIG creative events production. 

OK, it’s time to make your fearless leader look and sound like an innovative genius. Part 1 

Decide the format.  Each presenter has his or her own presentation style as well as a particular preference for content development format. Executive Speaker Coaching comes in many forms. Some will want a word-for-word written script; others an outline or talk points. Some will want to use their slides without any written prompts or scripts. Ask each presenter for your creative events what they feel will work best for them. Before you let them choose a format, however, make sure you have a good idea of their individual presentation strengths and weaknesses. Extemporaneous speaking should be entrusted only to speakers who have proven their extemporaneous skills. Any presenters known to be “loose cannons” or “wanderers” will need to be closely managed and should probably be given a script and a podium. If presenters are coming from outside your organization, learn what you can about their particular styles. Talk with people who have seen them or search online for video archives of their presentations. A brilliant but disorganized content expert, for example, might come across better in a controlled presentation setting such as an onstage interview or panel discussion, or a breakout, rather than be left to ramble at the lectern.

Managing Ramblers. If you know that a presenter tends to digress from the main points, or provides too much detail, request that they speak from a script. If they ask you the reason, you don’t need to say the awkward and life threatening “ ...because you don’t stay on-point.;” instead explain the importance of keeping every presenter on time, and remind them that no presenter wants to be the one who exceeds his time limit and thus cuts short a fellow presenter’s platform time—especially if that fellow presenter is a member of top management. If the presenter insists to his executive speaker coaching and support team on going script-free, alert the presentation coach to work carefully with the presenter on correcting the digression or rambling issues.

Manage content development process. Have the presenters submit outlines of their talks—mind mapping works great for this process. Unless the writer assigned to the speaker is a content expert, he or she should not be asked to create the outline. The person giving final approval should review the initial speaker-drafted outlines. Upon giving the “OK” content development can begin in one of two ways, both of which involve speaker-writer collaboration:

1.    The presenter develops a “beefier” outline or a fully scripted presentation, and hands it off to the writer. The writer reviews and edits the executive presenter’s masterpiece for organization, grammar and concision, and suggests visuals and the use of examples, stories, analogies, or quotes to support the ideas.

2.    The writer develops a fully scripted presentation. The writer interviews the presenter to capture the content that the writer will then use to develop the presentation.

Each presenter-writer team will find its own comfortable way of working together.

Manage keynote and external presenters. Some organizations are reluctant to ask a keynote speaker to send an outline or script for internal review for fear that the suggestion of evaluating the remarks could insult the speaker. The organization might be just as uneasy asking the same of a non-keynote speaker of high status, such as a major customer or the president of a partner organization. If you believe the presenter for your creative events project might be touchy about such things, tread lightly—and ask anyway. It’s actually in your and their best interest that the executive speaker coaching team read their remarks (content) before the event (the best speakers already know this). Let the speaker know that having their remarks will give subsequent speakers time to reference and reinforce key points made by the speaker—a flattering proposition indeed.

The advance copy will also enable the writer to create an introduction that sets up the speaker in a more targeted way. When the script is received, review it for the reasons just mentioned as well as scanning for inaccurate or contradictory information. For example, if all of your speakers and slides are reporting that 85 percent of American women purchase beauty products, yet your speaker claims it’s 78 percent, reconcile the gap before the audience gets a mixed message. Most experienced presenters at creative events will understand that you are trying to make them look good rather than undermining their expertise.

Status Sheet. The writer should keep a spread sheet that gives, at a glance, key information such as:

·         Name of presenter

·         Date and time of presenter’s talk

·         Format (e.g., extemporaneous; outline; talk points; full script; panel discussion)

·         Script status (e.g., in development, awaiting presenter feedback, awaiting final approval, final)

·         Slides (e.g., presenter will create; team will create; awaiting approval; final)

The status sheet is essential for tracking all content development. It also gives event organizers a heads-up on delays that may require special attention. If an online project management program is used, every update by the writer is instantly available to the team.

Articulate Creative Communications has had the pleasure of supporting hundreds of executives from some of the largest and most prestigious companies in the world. We enjoy making everyone feel confident while looking and sounding their very best. And, it's a process like anything else. Although we are experts at what we do, miracles are not possible. But, our executive speaker support and content development services will bring out the very best in each individual's personal strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. Don't swim in deep waters without us. 

More next time! Stay tuned for Part 2 on Content Development. 


(c) 2014 articulate creative communications


Hey Brian,

Another great article.  Your down to earth approach and common sense
make it all so clear.  Looking forward to Part 2 and more on Executive Speaker Coaching.
Take care.


By Tom Gaitsch on 2015 01 27