Business Leaders, Stop Performing at the Podium!

SpeakIf you’re a business leader who makes frequent presentations, here’s an excellent piece of advice from speechwriter and speaking coach, Matthew Cossolotto: stop “performing” at the podium and communicate authentically instead.

Every speaking engagement is an opportunity to make a genuine connection with your listeners and deliver your message in a way that is straightforward and true.

Sadly, many business leaders choose a completely different approach. They deliver an information dump and do everything they can to end to the occasion swiftly. To be fair, this is understandable. Public speaking can unnerve even the most seasoned executive. However, most of these speakers are eager to give the impression they’re relaxed and talking naturally. Hey, no problems here. I’m chill!

Alas, there is a problem: they are NOT chill. They’re a million miles away from chill, and their actions show it. Some pace the stage like restless cats, never settling in one spot for long. Others cling to the lectern as though battling vertigo. Almost all of them avoid making sustained eye contact with listeners. And those speakers who do make a point of scanning the audience as they talk are largely bluffing. They’re not really seeing anyone.

All of these tactics work against speakers and presenters, prohibiting them from connecting with their listeners and making a lasting impression.

If you really want to get your point across, Matthew advises, use the following strategies to communicate authentically:

  • Speak to your audience one person at a time. Make eye contact with a single individual, maintain it for several seconds, then make eye contact with someone else. The connections you’ll establish with this approach will be palpable. And your audience will be far more likely to hear and remember your messages.
  • Say what you mean with clarity and conviction, just the way you would if you were speaking to a friend or loved one. If you approach the podium with the intention of “giving a speech,” you’re liable to sacrifice clarity for the sake of appearance. Remember — we’re all real speakers. We do it all the time!
  • Allow your emotional state to come through, whether you’re nervous, joyous, puzzled or passionate. You allow your emotions to shine through when speaking to friends, don’t you? You owe this same honesty and respect to your listeners. After all, they’re giving you their time and attention.

Authentic communication will lift your presentations to entirely new and unexpected levels. Put Matthew’s advice to use and you’ll enthrall your audiences.

In fairness to my friend, Matthew, I’ve distilled only a very few of his astute precepts here and not as elegantly as he would have. Visit for direct access to his wisdom on speaking and authentic communication.

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