Take a deep breath. You deserve it.
But now is also a time for you to consider what can be done to make 2012 easier. And if we are honest with ourselves, we would like 2012 to be a bit easier. Here are 5 things you can do right now that will make 2012 the year executive communications got a lot easier for you.
1. Make an honest assessment. What are you good at? Really. Are you the content guy that takes big ideas and brings them into focus? Are you the detail guy that explains things in such a way that people can actually act? Are you the motivator? The empathizer? The leader of courage and conviction? Chances are you are not all of these. You know the answer. Just write it down. If you have evaluations from your big events, review them. Knowing some of it will be painful. Now take this pledge. Repeating after me:
I will play to my strengths when speaking. If I am funny, I will put them at ease with humor. If I am passionate, I will let it show. If I am boring, I will be brief. Really brief.
2. Catalog your speaking materials. I know they are on your hard-drive, but no one else has them and most of the time you can’t remember what they are all about. So get someone on your team to give you a SharePoint site or some other shareable and protected storage site. Now copy everything you can find. Everything. Change the titles so they can tell what you are talking about.
Here is a suggested naming convention. [YYYY MM DD] – [Actual Title] – [Venue]. For example: 2011 02 15 – Driving Growth With and Through Partners – Annual Sales Conference.
Why the date in the front in such a weird format? So they sort into date order so in 2012 you can find that thing you did last spring.
3. Schedule the speaker training now. You don’t think you need it? Are you kidding? Go back and look at the scores again for a minute. I will pause here while you brace yourself with a swig of eggnog. You need training. Find someone that is really, really good. Not someone that is also a life coach and a part-time yoga instructor. We know of several and are happy to refer.
4. Make your list of 2012 topics. You and your executive team have finished your strategy for 2012. What does that imply in terms of the communications you need to make to your company, to the industry in which you participate and to your investors? Think a little bit about how the message and the story that you have to say are likely to impact the performance of your team and the outside perception of your organization. Communicate willfully and with purpose.
5. Define success. Let’s pretend we were in December 2012. What would you like your communication to have driven in terms of outcomes? What would you have liked to have improved with respect to your communication abilities? How would you have liked the evaluation numbers to have changed? Keep this in front of you as you communicate in 2012.
You have given thought to 2012. Let us know what you are trying to achieve. And if it makes sense, let us help.