Like each of us, every company leader’s style is different. Some embody that Silicon Valley tech-guru archetype. Others exude a cool and calming presence. But each has importance as an industry influencer, and it’s critical to put them in the best position to be a confident spokesperson for their company’s vision.
Here are a few strategies to help coach tech CEOs so they can best communicate your company’s POV to journalists and make a positive impact on customers.
Clarify objectives upfront. Regardless of the individual, begin each media interview prep session by aligning on the specific goals for each opportunity:
- Why are we speaking with this specific outlet or reporter?
- What’s our company’s perspective on this topic?
- How do our solutions best position our customers for success?
- How are we setting the stage for our customers, investors or other stakeholders?
Level-setting before the interview opportunity is helpful for most CEOs, but I’ve found it especially valuable for those in the tech sector. Many of these leaders tend to have an analytical mindset, so giving them the “why” upfront can be useful context in preparation for an interview.
Cut back on jargon. Unlike other industries, tech reporters are often fine if an interviewee wants to “get technical.” But as the leading voice of the company, CEOs need to be concise, engaging and easy to interpret. If they use enough industry-insider speak that the audience needs Google to fully comprehend, it’s time to take a step back and rework the messaging.
During pre-interview preparation, coach your CEO to stick to widely used terminology instead of industry-specific language or abbreviations. And be sure they can weave topics back to your company’s perspective – not just your product. While the reporter probably won’t walk away from the interview knowing every technical detail of your solution, at the very least, they should understand what benefits your approach provides and how to differentiate you from your competitors.
Lean into authenticity. A CEO’s personal connection to a company generally adds a touch of credibility and humanity. And depending on the tech topic being discussed, their passion or background can become a natural on-ramp to align your company story with a core industry challenge or trending issue.
As a strategic communications advisor, leave space in talking points or add cues for your CEO to bring in their own examples or experiences. I’ve been lucky to work with CEOs who radiate passion for the people they serve. Tap into that genuine enthusiasm rather than diluting it with too many scripted talking points. Especially in broadcast or radio interviews, passion comes through loud and clear.
Practice makes perfect. Even if your CEO is a seasoned spokesperson, there’s always opportunity for improvement – especially when it comes to breaking down complex technology. Rehearsing an interview before the real thing can help a CEO nail down their messaging. Recorded mock interviews also can help them practice, review and sharpen interview skills.
If you’re looking for strategies to improve your C-suite communications, consider using a media coaching approach like PadillaPrep. The program offers best practices to help leaders remain confident and on-message during interviews – successfully delivering quality information and your company’s unique POV.
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