Executive Speech Tips

How to Create “Enchanting” Relationships

The word “enchant” means to cast a spell on or bewitch; to delight or captivate utterly; to fascinate; charm. Guy Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions, has given us a new spin on a more traditional approach to persuasion, influence, marketing and customer care.

Kawasaki defines enchantment as “the process of delighting people with a product, service, organization or idea. The outcome of enchantment is voluntary and long lasting support that is mutually beneficial.” He adds, “The greater your goals, the greater you’ll need to change people’s hearts, minds and actions.” And then he sets out to give us a step-by-step process for creating enchanting relationships.

This book is for anyone who has ever dreamed a dream and wanted to see it materialize. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, if you work for a large enterprise, or if you’re a recent college graduate, you’ll find tips in Kawasaki’s book that will help you engage your prospects or customers so that you can compete in this changing marketplace.

With such chapters as “How to Achieve Likability,” How to Achieve Trustworthiness,” “How to Prepare,” and many others, Kawasaki gives tools for mounting a campaign that is geared to achieve your vision and goals by creating powerful relationships. The book is packed with interesting personal profiles, from everyday working people to celebrity icons such as Steve Jobs and Al Gore. And because the book took a year to write and a lifetime of experience to create, it is loaded with background research, which provides a nice balance to the short paragraph format. I especially enjoyed his “hat tips,” where he acknowledges anyone whose idea he shares. 

Yes, this is a great book for the everyday entrepreneur, but is the concept of “enchantment” too soft for the C Suite? In a recent Forbes interview, Steve Denning asked Kawasaki how he communicates enchantment as a business proposition to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior leaders. How does he persuade this serious group that they too need to be in the business of enchantment?

“The best way is to use examples,” says Kawasaki. “Wouldn’t you like to have the evangelistic base of Apple or the likeability of Virgin America? Wouldn’t you like customers to trust you the way they trust Zappo’s, so that they will buy shoes, sight unseen? Even the most hard-core pencil-pushing bean-counter will have to say, ‘Yeah, I wish we were Apple or Virgin America or Zappo’s! That’s not such a bad place to be.’”

If you want to get a taste of your company’s ability to cast a spell and enchant your audience, listeners, customers, or prospects, take this test Kawasaki created: Guy’s Realistic Enchantment Aptitude Test (GREAT). Then, no matter what your results are, read Enchantment. You’ll get practical, doable suggestions that could just make your company the next Apple. Now, wouldn’t that be great!

The Perfect Retreat

This is another installment in my Wednesday for Women blog series, where I feature information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. If you’re a man reading this, please enjoy it and then forward these weekly Wednesday blogs to the powerful women in your life. They’ll thank you for it! I’m a big proponent of vacations. Like you, I work long hours and am deeply committed to the success of my business, so managing personal time is a top priority. Taking time off from the rigors of work, technology, and the daily grind is critical for keeping creativity and motivation high. And I’ve discovered that it’s often during breaks and vacation times that I solve nagging issues and come up with some of my best business ideas. So rather than completely “checking out” during a vacation, I’ve become more conscious about using the time to “dial in” and gain a renewed sense of purpose and professionalism.

When I’m feeling overloaded and not working efficiently, I take short breaks. These “mini vacations” provide the space for my intuition to break through the noise and provide counsel. When I take weekend and longer vacations I use that time to plan and problem solve as well. So whether you’re taking a short break or a long vacation, here are a few tips that can help you use your time off in a way that not only calms your mind and body but also energizes your drive and motivation.

  • Keep a journal handy. I have small notebooks in every possible location: in my car, in every handbag, by my bed, and in my pocket. I take them with me on hikes, weekend getaways, long vacations, or even when  shopping or going out to dinner with friends. Great ideas often come when you’re the most relaxed…and they can disappear just as easily. So be prepared to jot them down for a later time.
  • Spend time with like-minded people. Every now and then it’s important to plan your time off so you’re spending it with people who can support you in your personal and professional growth. Sometimes that means taking time for you and leaving the family at home. A weekend with the “girls” can do wonders for your outlook and self-esteem.
  • Empty your mind…and then refuel it. Thinking about nothing on your time off is extremely helpful to reset your body and mind, and it helps you feel good in the moment. But the things you’re leaving behind (including those irritating challenges) will still be at work waiting for you. So rather than simply empty your mind, find a new activity that can help you refuel your brain. This could mean reading that business strategy book you’ve been putting off, learning about a topic that is outside of your area of expertise, or even focusing on improving a skill. Exercise your brain in new ways so you can gain a broader perspective to work and life.
  • Create a plan. The last day of vacation, of a long weekend, or even of a “mini vacation” is sad for many people. So why not find a way to keep that refreshed focus and feeling of calm you experience while on vacation with you all the time? You have choices on how you live your life every day. You can choose to let the stress engulf you, or you can choose to take control of the stressors in your life. Use your journal and jot down two or three concrete ideas that you can take back with you.

There’s no reason why getting some R&R can’t also include helping you be more and do more. For more ideas on how the two concepts can be combined, check out my new program, Speaking Spas. And before you plan that next vacation or long weekend—or even that short break—take a few minutes to think about what you really need. When you take care of yourself first, you’ll have much more of yourself to share with others.

Steven Tyler’s Rooster Feathers are a High Performance Prop

In entertainment, performance, and even public speaking, props play an important role when creating an image or making a key point. Whether your prop is something you hold or something you wear, your audience will connect it to your message, thus making your points more memorable. For example, I know a professional speaker whose signature prop is a hat. She wears one every time she gives a speech, and her audiences have come to expect it. She is so well known for her hats that her audience once arrived to her event all wearing hats—in tribute to her. That’s the kind of contagious prop that is worth cultivating.

But the prop to end all props right now is Steven Tyler’s hair feathers. Yes…hair feathers. And according to a story I recently heard on NPR, the popularity of his feathers is placing big demands on Whiting Farms, the feathers’ producers.

Located in western Colorado, Whiting Farms sells feather products for fly-fishing to over 50 countries. They specialize in raising specific chickens and roosters, and are well known for providing top flies to fly fisherman. They have a loyal customer base who create their own flies and who swear by the feathers Whiting Farms provides. Apparently, fly-fishing is a creative process and the fishermen say that the rooster feathers they buy from Whiting Farms are an integral part of the success in catching fish.

Now here’s the dilemma: Ever since Steven Tyler has been wearing these feathers in his hair, thousands of young girls want feathers in their hair too. And just any old feather won’t do—they want the exact same feathers Tyler wears. Whiting Farms is having a tough time keeping up with the demand from this new market.

This just goes to show how much impact a seemingly simple prop can have. If you follow American Idol (or if you’re a fan of Steven Tyler), you probably know that Tyler is always in costume. Even though he appears rather disheveled, everything he wears has been meticulously selected, coordinated, assembled, and crafted to create the image of what we see each week. Nothing is left to chance. As Tyler once said, paraphrasing Dolly Parton, “You have no idea how much it costs to look this cheap.”

Even his hair feathers from Whiting Farms are strategically placed. Now the feathers have become all the rage in boutiques throughout America as customers ask their stylists to integrate feathers into their every day hair styles.

As a result, Whiting Farms can’t keep up with the demand from the salons. At least 50 percent of their inventory is going to the salons now, and even when they raise their prices, the salons still order the feathers. The farm is actually concerned that they may lose some of their loyal fly fishermen because they can’t meet the demand.

So what’s your prop? What key item or piece of clothing can become your signature—something that increases your recognition and makes you memorable? From hats to feathers, the possibilities are endless. Just please choose wisely—you don’t want your prop to ruffle any feathers!

Aspiring Women

Every Wednesday I’ll be posting a blog geared especially for women. This new blog will feature information to help women gain greater influence, power, and confidence in their professional and personal life. If you’re a man reading this, please enjoy it and then forward these weekly Wednesday blogs to the powerful women in your life. They’ll thank you for it! No one ever said work was easy, but for women, the workplace can be an increasingly difficult place. First, the old cliché of the “glass ceiling” is still alive and well in many industries. Second, the fact is that women still earn less than men—77 cents to every man’s dollar, to be exact. Yes, women have to overcome a lot to be successful. Therefore, having the advanced skills to break through that ceiling and help shrink the pay gap is critical.

Despite these truths about the workplace, there is a core group of women who aspire to reach new heights and who will stop at nothing to get there. These are the women in leadership roles in every industry who organize, educate, inspire, influence, create vision and drive results. These are the women who are determined to overcome any challenge. These are the women who set the bar to new levels, encouraging everyone—both males and females—to stretch their capabilities and master new skills.

And these women are passionate about personal growth and professional development. Aspiring women want to strengthen their skills, be challenged to grow and learn, and connect with other like-minded women. What can help them gain greater influence, power, and confidence at work? For many women, it comes down to their communication skills—their communication style, how they listen, how they facilitate a meeting, how they present information, and how they give direction to others. These are the crucial elements that truly matter when you’re trying to set yourself apart from the crowd and develop greater credibility and influence.

As you continually strive for new levels of professional success and personal satisfaction, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Polish your physical presence. Focus on refining your communication delivery skills, including your body language (what people see when they look at you—your eye contact, facial expressions, posture, gestures, and movement), your vocal skills (the creation and delivery of your vocal sounds—your volume, enunciation, inflection, rate of speech, pitch, inflection, and strategic pauses), and your word choices (the precise message you give—crafting concise sentences, selecting language that is audience focused, and liberally using words that convey power and emotion). For assistance with all of these skills, be sure to read my past blogs and web site articles.
  • Build your support network. Reach out to other aspiring women as often as possible. Integrate these women into your life as role models, support people, and taskmasters. Remember that you need people to learn from, to cheer you on, and to set the bar and hold you accountable. By having all three types of people in your life, you can achieve your goals.
  • Take more risks. Once you have developed your skills and built your support network, then you have to get out there and use your new skills and knowledge to build your platform. Nothing great in life ever occurs without some risk. So stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and go for it.  

To help women achieve more, I’ve developed a new program called Speaking Spas. Designed for women who desire growth and challenge—and who also require nurturing and support to achieve their goals—Speaking Spas is a retreat for women who want to become more powerful communicators. This program takes place in a tranquil spa setting, so interspersed with the rigorous DeFinis training curriculum are nourishing opportunities for spa treatments, exercise, privacy, and healthy food. I believe that professional development can be done in a whole new way—a way geared just for women.

If you want to be more and do more in your career, you can. Don’t let anything hold you back. With powerful skills and motivation, you can reach the sky that exists beyond the glass ceiling—and that’s when your opportunities are truly limitless.

Speaking of Telling Stories in the Executive Suite

I have been working with a client in our Executive Immersion program and am once again reminded of the critical role that stories play in executive effectiveness.  My client is working hard to develop a communication approach that balances IQ and EQ—that is, using intellectual, analytical, problem solving tactics combined with an ability to manage and integrate a range of emotions in all forms of communication. This balance seems especially important when an executive is communicating a new, expanded or revised vision to a less than eager workforce.


The business of the executive suite is to develop, articulate and marshal resources toward a goal and strategy—i.e. to create the big picture. And the business of most employees is to do their job and develop one important piece of the picture to contribute to the overall goal. Sometimes these roles are in conflict and the employee can feel the burden of the vision without having the authority to act. All too often the executive message is not inclusive enough to sanction the employee to do their job. The executive speaks in “I, me, mine” when the employee wants to hear “You, we, us.”


So how can the executive bridge this gap?


In my view the key to aligning vision is to articulate a clear picture of success and then involve others in the achievement of the outcome. One highly effective and low risk way to create alignment without overwhelming, confusing or de-motivating employees is through storytelling.


Here’s a great example of a story that balances vision and clarity with a direct emotional appeal:


The CEO of a small Silicon Valley start-up told this story at the annual kickoff meeting. The company had quickly risen to unparalleled success with one product and was facing its next R&D challenge.


A long time ago, there was a master archer who wanted to become the best in the land. He set out to find an archer of even greater talent so that he might improve his craft. After months of walking through forests, meadows, and towns, he came upon a tree with an arrow in the exact middle of a painted target. As he walked on he saw a second tree with another exact bulls-eye. Soon, he saw more and more trees with straight arrows placed within the targets. Perfect bulls-eyes covered the forest. Suddenly, he entered a clearing and looked up. He saw the side of a large barn with row after row of perfect bulls-eyes. In that moment he knew he had found his mentor.


He began asking everyone he saw, “Whose barn is it that displays so many perfect arrows?” The people told him how to find the man who owned the barn. When he found this man he was surprised to meet a simple man, slow of speech, and awkward in his movements, certainly not the master athlete he expected to find. Unperturbed, he asked the man to share his secret. “How do you do it?” he asked. “How do you hit so many perfect bulls-eyes?” The man quietly explained. “Oh, anyone can do it. After I shoot the arrow, I take paint and draw a target around the arrow. I can create a perfect bulls-eye every time.”


After telling this story, the executive made two important points. First he said “There are many ways to hit the target, so innovate, create, and think out of the box;” and then he added, “Trust your instincts, your expertise, and your creative talent, and  beware of looking for a hero or mentor to teach you how to do this. After all, you already know how to do this, and what’s more, I trust that you can do it.”


This is the kind of story that my client wants to tell—one that articulates a vision in a creative and inclusive way and gets to the heart of the matter with sincerity and good will. This is a story where IQ and EQ are well integrated and showcase executive excellence.





Executive Speech Prep Team Effort: Coach and Writer

Many thanks toJeff Porro for submitting this great post. Jeff is a Washington, DC-based speechwriter for Fortune 250 CEOs, diplomats, and other government leaders, as well as executives of some of the nation’s leading trade and professional associations. He is also an award winning screenwriter and a PhD with 20 years of experience in research, public policy, and business. Learn more about Jeff at www.porrollc.com and http://blog.porrollc.com.



As a speechwriter who works with executives, I’ve found that far too many corporate and nonprofit leaders are unfamiliar with a couple of basic facts of life about speeches: a terrific speech or presentation is a performance: and an effective performance takes teamwork.  



Think about the other kinds of performances that have moved you: a great play, a great movie, even a great stand-up comic. Chances are you were very aware of two key elements that made the performance memorable. The script was terrific, and the performer knew how to deliver his or her lines convincingly.


What you may not have been aware of was that the creative people behind the performance worked closely together as a team. They brainstormed, interacted with one another, blended their different perspectives and made changes to improve the performance. I was part of the writing team for the film, The Great Debaters. But when they were shooting the movie, the actors, screenwriter and director Denzel Washington collaborated almost every day. They adjusted the original script in order to make dialogue more effective and move the film forward more smoothly.


Preparing an excellent presentation takes that kind of team effort, too. You need a good speech writer and a good communication trainer. But the key is that the writer and trainer must have a working relationship with you that allows for feedback, interaction, and changes.


The speechwriter’s first job will be to prepare a script that does more than convey information. As Lee Iacocca once said, “You can deliver information in a letter or tack it up on a bulletin board.” The script should make it possible for the executive to convey important information in an engaging way. The speechwriter won’t get that done alone in a room somewhere pounding away on a keyboard.


Enter the presentation coach. The best trainers do not try to force every speaker into one mold. They help executives translate their strengths in the board room and as leaders into strong presentation skills. They also help you discover and overcome your presentation weaknesses so you can come across in presentations as genuine, relaxed and passionate.


To achieve this goal, the trainer typically will work with you in coaching sessions, using video so you can see where you need help. Here’s where the teamwork comes in — the speechwriter should be there. Being part of the training will give the writer insights that are invaluable to polishing the script. For example, it may turn out that you can not tell a joke, but are comfortable with self-deprecating humor. There may be certain phrases that look good on paper, but which you have trouble saying comfortably.


Armed with insights from the coaching session, the writer gets a sense of the executive’s presentation personality and can incorporate that into the first draft.


Once the first draft is done and the first round of presentation training is finished, the team process should resemble even more closely the interaction that goes into making a movie. As the executive practices the talk, the writer should be prepared to make changes—cutting back sections that drag or changing words you repeatedly stumble over.  If there are parts of the speech you are struggling with, but which absolutely have to be included, the trainer can help you develop ways to become more comfortable.


The team should mark up the ‘performance script.’ This is the actual script the speaker will be using in front of the audience. The markup should include simple reminders to the speaker of the way he or she should use body language to engage the audience. For example, the speaking script should list the gestures to be used at key points, remind the speaker when to speak more loudly, or when to lower the volume, when to pause, when to make direct eye contact, etc.


The writer and trainer can work together with you in other ways, too, of course. What’s most important is that all those involved realize that the team effort will be interactive and iterative process. The writer will change the speech draft based on input from the executive and the trainer. The trainer will adjust his coaching based on how the executive responds and on what the writer suggests, and so forth.


A team effort can help ensure that presentations that absolutely have to succeed do succeed.