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Before Delivering Your Next Speech, Ask These Four Questions

Leaders rarely have enough time to prepare for the communicating they have to do. Here’s a shortcut.
COLLABORATORS Steve Sargent
How to deliver a better speech

Steve Sargent, president and CEO of GE Australia and New Zealand, runs through a four-point checklist — sometimes in just 30 seconds — before every organized communication event, from small meetings to large speeches.

The four questions he asks himself seem obvious, but that’s exactly why they’re on his checklist: They’re essential.

They also allow him to customize his talks, depending on the situation, because every communication event exerts its own particular strategic pull: Stock analysts require one thing, internal meetings with the product development team require quite another. The critical goal is to be clear about what needs to be accomplished and tailor the messaging accordingly. This list helps Sargent do that on the fly, and he says he’d always forget one of these four questions if he didn’t check each one off.

#CEOcommunication

THE PLUS

If you’re uncomfortable with public speaking, take heart: Sargent used to be, too. “I was a raving introvert who preferred not to get up in front of people. I wasn’t even comfortable one-on-one. So I joined the local Toastmasters club and [went] for 10 years. That gave me a lot of confidence,” he told Build.

If you’re also an introvert, and you want to improve your public speaking, read Susan Cain’s article in Psychology Today, “10 Public Speaking Tips for Introverts.”

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