Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

robcottingham.ca
Planning, crafting and delivering powerful speeches


50. The Pigeon of Dorian Gray
Nov 1 • 16 min
I’m always telling you to tell stories… so for the 50th episode of the podcast, I’m going to share one of my own. It’s about what a dead pigeon taught me about being a good speechwriter. Music: Theme: “Good Times” by Podington Bear…
49. What kind of emotional connection do you want with your audience?
Oct 24 • 8 min
Coming up empty as you try to write your speech? Wondering why your presentations aren’t landing quite as well as you know they should? You probably know you should connect emotionally with your audience — but maybe you need to think through just…
48. Find your speaker superpowers in your origin story
Oct 17 • 9 min
For some reason, we love to hear how superheroes got their powers — their origin stories. And audiences will want to hear yours, too. Here’s how to tell the story of how you got here in a way that connects with your audience and even moves them to…
47. Careful with that spotlight!
Oct 1 • 10 min
As leaders, it can be tempting to forget that not everyone likes being the centre of attention. And when you have an audience, you can all too easily throw a harsh, unforgiving spotlight onto someone who isn’t ready for it. This episode, we look at…
46. “Long Shot” and why speakers and speechwriters need some one-on-one time
Sep 27 • 7 min
This summer’s film Long Shot is an entire movie about how speechwriter and speaker relate to each other. And it has something to teach us about making that relationship work — and how the key ingredient is time. If you’re thinking of catching it,…
45. What HBO can teach us about how NOT to write a speech
Sep 17 • 8 min
Succession’s “Safe Room” and that Connor Roy eulogy
44. Speakers, have a seat (in the audience)
Aug 13 • 8 min
You can write a speech for a someone. Read it through. Rehearse with the speaker. But you won’t really know how effective it is unless you’re there when they deliver it. This episode: why speechwriters should fight for a spot in the audience, and…
43. “How do you do, fellow kids?” Speaking to young audiences
Aug 8 • 27 min
Interview with Robin Stevenson
42. Speechwriters of the world, unite! Creating communities of practice: interview with Elana Aptowitzer
Aug 6 • 28 min
Writing is usually a pretty solitary pursuit. But solitary doesn’t have to mean isolated. Find out how Elana Aptowitzer created a community of speechwriters inside the Canadian public service — and how you can start building a community of your…
41. Changing the world… with op-eds
Aug 2 • 27 min
We’ve focused on speaking and speechwriting in the podcast — but there’s more than one way to connect with an audience. And one of the best: the venerable op-ed piece. About my guest: Today’s guest knows op-eds better than anyone I know:…
40. Cop an attitude — and take a stand
Jul 25 • 6 min
If you really want your audience to care about what you’re saying, they need to know you care about it too. And that starts with the attitude you project… and the stands you’re willing to take. Music: Theme: “Good Times” by Podington Bear…
39. Quote me on that
Jul 18 • 7 min
Quotations are one of a speechwriter’s essential tools — right up there with metaphors, jokes and 3 a.m. espresso. But borrowed eloquence doesn’t always work out, and as handy as a quotation can be, using it requires care. This episode looks at how…
38. To tell the truth
Jul 16 • 10 min
Most of us like to think of ourselves as basically honest people. But as speakers and speechwriters, it’s surprisingly easy to find ourselves misleading our audiences: accidentally or (gulp) deliberately. Find out how — even with the best intentions…
37. Making the most of a rally speech, with guest Tzeporah Berman: part 2
Jul 11 • 17 min
Political protest is on the rise — and with it, a growing need for leaders to speak to protest rallies. This episode, we talk with veteran environmental and climate campaigner Tzeporah Berman about rally speeches: how to plan, write and deliver them…
36. Making the most of a rally speech, with guest Tzeporah Berman: part 1
Jul 11 • 21 min
Political protest is on the rise — and with it, a growing need for leaders to speak to protest rallies. This episode, we talk with veteran environmental and climate campaigner Tzeporah Berman about rally speeches: how to plan, write and deliver them…
35. Speechwriters on stage
Jul 8 • 7 min
Want to be a better speechwriter? One of the best ways to improve your speechwriting is to get out from behind your keyboard and get in front of an audience. Why speechwriters should also be speakers — and how you can get started. Music: Theme:…
34. When the questions get tough, the tough get prepared
Jun 30 • 9 min
It may be in a media interview, a Q&A, a debate or a townhall. But when you’re a leader, chances are sooner or later you’re going to face tough questions. It just comes with the territory. The key to being ready for tough questions? Equally tough…
33. Cue the theatrics! What speakers (and speechwriters) can learn from actors
Jun 21 • 7 min
What does acting have to do with authenticity? More than you might think. This episode, we look at how the tools actors bring to their most compelling performances can help you connect with your audience. Music: Theme: “Good Times” by Podington Bear…
32. Getting started in speechwriting
Jun 14 • 9 min
There’s no well-worn, signposted career path to being a speechwriter. That’s the bad news. The good news? There are plenty of other paths in. This episode, we look at how to break into speechwriting — and some lessons from my own first big break….
31. Sorry seems to be the hardest word: delivering a great apology
Jun 5 • 13 min
Why leaders sometimes need to apologize… how some people screw it up… and how to deliver an apology that brings some genuine closure.
30. Build your organization’s podium strength.
May 14 • 10 min
Over the past 29 episodes, we’ve looked at how you can be a better, more effective speaker and speechwriter. For episode 30, let’s magnify your impact — helping your whole organization tap into the power of public speaking. Also, I reveal my hidden…
29. Broaden your media diet
May 9 • 7 min
This episode, we talk about how expanding the kinds of media you like to read, watch and listen to can make you a better speechwriter and speaker.
28. Listen to speakers outside your niche
May 7 • 5 min
Niches are great places to develop a deep understanding of audience and subject matter, and to build community… but they can get pretty insular. Whether you’re a speaker or a speechwriter, here’s how to keep your work fresh, by drawing inspiration from…
27. Make your speech a content factory
May 2 • 5 min
Speeches are amazing. They can move audiences, inspire crowds… and they can help you create new content, quickly and easily! In this episode, we’ll look at 10 ways you can repurpose your next speech into high-impact video, audio, text and images….
26. Think strategically
Apr 30 • 10 min
When it comes to your organization’s leadership speaking, you have strategic resources in play and strategic values on the line. That makes a pretty good case for a speaking strategy. Here’s how to take the first steps toward crafting one.
25. Build a platform
Apr 25 • 11 min
The applause from your speech may have faded, but the connection you make with your audience doesn’t have to. Engaging online can help you deepen and broaden your audience relationship, while building a growing network that may become one of your most…
24. Review your performance
Apr 23 • 6 min
Who are the top performers who need to review their performances so they can improve? Athletes… actors… and speakers like you! This episode, let’s talk about how to review and improve your speaking and your content.
23. Go all in
Apr 18 • 6 min
This episode ties together everything we’ve talked about around speech delivery with one big idea for truly powerful speaking: commitment.
22. Own the space
Apr 16 • 6 min
Break out of the lectern cage! Make the stage your own… and learn how to use movement to deepen your presentation’s connection to your audience. (Also, I go off on that whole “podium vs. lectern” thing.)
21. Make the most of your voice on stage
Apr 11 • 7 min
When you treat your voice as an instrument (and not an afterthought!) great things happen to your speeches… and to your audiences. This episode, we break down three powerful vocal tools: pitch, pace and volume.
20. Hey! The audience’s eyes are up here! And over here… and…
Apr 9 • 8 min
For once, the conventional wisdom has it right: eye contact with your audience is powerful. Here’s how to put it to work for you — even when you have to read your speech from the page. Links: That moment in Baby Mama with Tina Fey and Steve Martin…
19. Get your hands dirty
Apr 4 • 9 min
Roll up your sleeves… because this episode we talk about the tools of the public speaking trade. And one tool in particular: your microphone.
18. Prepare… even when you don’t have time
Apr 2 • 4 min
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…
17. Practice. No, really practice.
Mar 28 • 5 min
Think rehearsal and preparation kills 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…
16. Don’t just read your speech. Perform it.
Mar 26 • 9 min
This episode, we pivot from speechwriting to speaking itself. And we start with the single biggest way most speakers can level up: authentic performance.
15. How to get great feedback on your speech
Mar 21 • 8 min
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…
14. Get your audience to expect more… of themselves.
Mar 18 • 4 min
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…
13. Don’t meet your audience’s expectations
Mar 14 • 4 min
…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 reliable.
12. Make your audience a little uncomfortable
Mar 12 • 6 min
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.
11. Use slides well… if at all
Mar 7 • 8 min
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.
10. Ease up on the statistics
Mar 5 • 6 min
When your speech unleashes a flood of statistics, you can lose your audience’s interest — and their emotional connection — fast. 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…
9. Suspense!
Feb 28 • 5 min
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?”
8: Consider all of your audiences
Feb 26 • 4 min
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. Music: “Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, and “Cheese” by David Szesztay. Used under…
7. Use plain language… but not just plain language
Feb 21 • 4 min
Plain language can make your speech a lot clearer, and allow your ideas and thinking to shine through. But there are times when speechwriters and speakers want to reach for the more complex words… and even use (gasp!) jargon.
6. Defend your narrative arc
Feb 19 • 5 min
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…
5. Get vulnerable
Feb 14 • 5 min
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.
4. Plot Your Emotional Arc
Feb 12 • 4 min
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.
3. Tell one big story… with your audience as the hero.
Feb 2 • 5 min
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…
2. Know your audience
Feb 2 • 5 min
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…
1. Know what you want to accomplish
Feb 1 • 3 min
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.