Let go of that script! How to humanize senior execs and make them more accessible

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What You’ll Learn:: 

It’s happy hour. The CEO says, Go on, slap me in the face. A giggling employee does just that while everyone gasps.

“Raise your hand if you have a CEO like that,” says Teach For America’s Justin Fong.

No? Well, the point isn’t pummeling your leadership; it’s creating a culture of openness and fun.

In this session you will learn how internal communicators can bring out the personality and persuasiveness of your executive team:

  • Go live: When there's only one take, spontaneity and personality is what you get
  • Go with video! In-person is always best, but when that can't happen, video brings people to life
  • Go online: A microblogging community fosters lively casual conversations among staff and executives
  • Throw out the script: Loosen the reins on talking points and allow your leaders to speak from the heart
  • Coach the voice: Help your executives find their authentic voices and they'll deliver messages with passion

Is your boss a bore? Great at one-on-one, fun to work with, but a somnambulant speaker?

The nonprofit Teach For America has some ideas for how to deal with that. The organization has been named one of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For in each of the last two years. As it grew rapidly, so has the distance between staff and senior leaders. This made it harder to nurture a culture of trust and breaking down the barriers between leadership and staff amidst this scale-up has become more difficult.

Gain tips to help your leadership learn how to display personality through body language and to “break out of an archetype” through attire.

Find out why going online—socially, that is—can bring changes. Yammer and other such platforms are wide open, with no rules. This implies trust, and it empowers staff to use their voice. See examples of social exchanges among employees and leaders at Teach For America.

Gain tips on how to throw out the script. Loosening the reins helps people sound like themselves. Non-rehearsed messages leave leaders open to answering the hard questions. Employees respect that.

Find out why you should hire someone with a performance background to coach your poobah in his or her use of voice. Honestly, that droning on and on has got to go.

Above all, learn to help your stressed-out bigwigs relax, let go, and breathe easy. They won’t look like such stuffed shirts. And you’ll see the improvement in communications with employees.

December 2012

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Presenter bio: 

Justin Fong is the vice president of internal communications at Teach For America, whose mission is to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nation's most promising future leaders to teach. He began his journey with Teach For America right out of college as a corps member, teaching middle school in Harlem. After his two-year teaching commitment, he joined the charter school movement, working as a teacher, administrator, and consultant with Harlem Village Academies and Building Excellent Schools, an inner-city school incubator.