15 Key Elements Of A Memorable And Compelling Executive Speech

Every time executives speak publicly, they communicate a lot—not only about themselves, but also their organization. To ensure that their message has the desired impact on the audience, preparing in advance can help them deliver an effective and compelling talk or presentation.

Some executive speeches are given internally, and others are developed for external audiences. Likewise, some will be scheduled far in advance, while others happen with less notice and are more spontaneous affairs. Regardless of the timing or venue, the methods used to prepare for a memorable executive speech and approaches to audience engagement will vary depending on the goal of the talk. Here, members of Forbes Agency Council share elements executive speeches require to strike just the right chord with the audience.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Goals Articulated In A Concise, Aspirational Way
I had the pleasure of hearing one of my client’s CEOs speak to the company’s senior leadership last week, and he was great! He clearly articulated the goals, culture and milestones he wanted to hit in a concise, aspirational way. I came away reflecting on how I can learn from him. – Brook Shepard, Mason Interactive

2. A Combination Of Insight, Emotion And A Clear Message
The most memorable speeches by executives contain a combination of insight, emotion and a clear message. Individually, none of these particularly drive an address to be remarkable. But when combined, insight becomes more than shared data and experience, emotion extends beyond raw passion for the subject matter, and a clear message becomes a rallying point that is relatable and understandable. – Jonathan Schwartz, Bullseye Strategy

3. Personal Anecdotes Woven Throughout
A speech becomes more memorable and meaningful when there are personal anecdotes woven throughout—whether they’re about how an item being discussed affected the speaker personally or the hopes and ambitions surrounding the goals discussed in the speech. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

4. Emotional Connections And A Logical Resonance
A speech should help audiences connect emotionally and should resonate with them in a logical way. In order to achieve that, you have to understand your audience and their expectations really well. There are many other ways to connect with the audience, but the one that sticks has to make sense emotionally and logically. – Kamaljit Singh, AMZ One Step

5. Relatability With The Audience
Pathos is key. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Relating your message to your audience’s experiences and emotions is central to a speech that resonates. – Heather Kelly, Next PR

6. Expert Blending Of Personal And Professional Identities
The best executive speeches are able to blend personal, relatable anecdotes seamlessly with the themes and takeaways of the presentation. While that may sound simple in theory, in practice it requires deep understanding of an audience, consideration of conclusions and, often, the expert blending of both professional and personal identities. – Chris Martin, FlexMR

7. Connectivity, Honesty, Excitement And Wisdom
When it comes to striking the right chord with an audience, it’s all about connectivity and honesty. You need to remember that you’re speaking to a human audience—so your speech needs to be personal, unexpected and relatable. People don’t want to hear corporate content or whitewashed company statements; they want excitement, wisdom and an admirable speaker. – Lars Lehne, Incubeta

8. No Fear About Showing Vulnerability
I’ve heard many powerful speakers over the years, but I think the ones who are the most memorable are those who are not afraid to show their vulnerability. When people share personal stories as a way of teaching others, it creates a sense of authenticity. The audience can relate to them more on a personal level. – Jason Hennessey, Hennessey Digital

9. A Relatable Personal Story To Start (And End) With
My favorite speeches start with a story that is told in a relatable and personal way, which ties into the theme or a key point of the speech. Select one memorable image that encapsulates the story. From that story, the executive can segue into the key points of their speech and end by revisiting the starting story/image. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

10. Big Energy
The most well-constructed and brilliant speech will fall flat if it is not delivered with passion and energy. We’ve all been at a speech given by someone you had high expectations of, but their low energy and disinterest left your mind wandering away from their rich content. Make the audience “feel” the story and be a part of it. Then, they will remember your message above all else. – Jim Heininger, Dixon|James & Rebranding Experts

11. Resonating Content That Grabs Attention Within Ten Seconds
You have ten seconds to get your audience’s attention and keep them from looking at their phone. Once you have their attention, the fastest way to lose them is by including anything that does not resonate with them. We care most about the things that impact us directly, so make your speech relatable to the widest possible audience. – Justin Buckley, ATTN Agency

12. One Thought-Provoking Idea Or Question
I have always enjoyed speeches that leave you with what I call a “plus one.” These kinds of speeches have a purpose, and that’s to leave you with one idea or question that keeps you thinking. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

13. Stickiness
One of the most important elements of a good speech is stickiness, as it means that the audience is going to remember the speech. That stickiness needs to come from the history of what the person speaking has done in the past. When you have this information, you will have a great story and a memorable speech. – Jon James, Ignited Results

14. An Element Of Surprise And Delight
Having an element of surprise and delight is essential. With speeches, the audience will often lose focus quickly. The presentation needs to be interactive with the audience so that the take-home messages can be quickly absorbed. There’s nothing worse than a PowerPoint presentation in a small font with no images and nothing to differentiate it. Mix things up a bit, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. – Adrian Falk, Believe Advertising & PR

15. Inspiration And Motivation
An executive speech should be inspiring and motivational, not just a lot of great words about nothing without any specifics. You have to straddle the border between being pretentious and dryly enumerating what has been done or should be done. Also, try to build each presentation around a particular idea. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO