Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

37 EpisodesProduced by Rob Cottingham

I've worked as a speechwriter, presentation coach and communication strategist—not to mention delivering my share of speeches. From speechwriting and speaking to traditional and social media, here's my best advice on how leaders can communicate to change how audiences see the world.

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Ep. 38. To tell the truth

July 16th, 2019


Most of us like to think of ourselves as basically honest people. But as speakers and speechwriters, it's surprisingly easy to find ourselves …

Ep. 37. Making the most of a rally speech, with guest Tzeporah Berman: part 2

July 11th, 2019


Political protest is on the rise — and with it, a growing need for leaders to speak to protest rallies. This episode, we talk with veteran …

Ep. 36. Making the most of a rally speech, with guest Tzeporah Berman: part 1

July 11th, 2019


Political protest is on the rise — and with it, a growing need for leaders to speak to protest rallies. This episode, we talk with veteran …

Ep. 35. Speechwriters on stage

July 8th, 2019


Want to be a better speechwriter? One of the best ways to improve your speechwriting is to get out from behind your keyboard and get in front of an …

Ep. 34. When the questions get tough, the tough get prepared

June 30th, 2019


It may be in a media interview, a Q&A, a debate or a townhall. But when you're a leader, chances are sooner or later you're going to face tough questions. It just comes with the territory.

The key to being ready for …

Ep. 33. Cue the theatrics! What speakers (and speechwriters) can learn from actors

June 22nd, 2019


What does acting have to do with authenticity? More than you might think. This episode, we look at how the tools actors bring to their most …

Ep. 32. Getting started in speechwriting

June 14th, 2019


There's no well-worn, signposted career path to being a speechwriter. That's the bad news. The good news? There are plenty of other paths in. This episode, we look at how to break into speechwriting — and some lessons …

Ep. 31. Sorry seems to be the hardest word: delivering a great apology

June 5th, 2019


None of us is perfect, and sooner or later, leaders have to apologize for something. Sometimes it’s something out of your control; sometimes it …

Ep. 30. Build your organization's podium strength.

May 14th, 2019


Over the past 29 episodes, we've looked at how you can be a better, more effective speaker and speechwriter. For episode 30, let's magnify your …

Ep. 29. Broaden your media diet

May 9th, 2019


This episode, we talk about how expanding the kinds of media you like to read, watch and listen to can make you a better speechwriter and speaker.

Links: The 100-Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon


Ep. 28. Listen to speakers outside your niche

May 7th, 2019


Niches are great places to develop a deep understanding of audience and subject matter, and to build community... but they can get pretty insular. …

Ep. 27. Make your speech a content factory

May 2nd, 2019


Speeches are amazing. They can move audiences, inspire crowds... and they can help you create new content, quickly and easily! In this episode, we'll look at 10 ways you can repurpose your next speech into high-impact …

Ep. 26. Think strategically

April 30th, 2019


When it comes to your organization's leadership speaking, you have strategic resources in play and strategic values on the line. That makes a pretty good case for a speaking strategy. Here's how to take the first steps …

Ep. 25. Build a platform

April 25th, 2019


The applause from your speech may have faded, but the connection you make with your audience doesn't have to. Engaging online can help you deepen and broaden your audience relationship, while building a growing network …

Ep. 24. Review your performance

April 23rd, 2019


Who are the top performers who need to review their performances so they can improve? Athletes... actors... and speakers like you! This episode, let's talk about how to review and improve your speaking and your content.

Ep. 23. Go all in

April 18th, 2019


This episode ties together everything we've talked about around speech delivery with one big idea for truly powerful speaking: commitment.


Ep. 22. Own the space

April 16th, 2019


Break out of the lectern cage! Make the stage your own... and learn how to use movement to deepen your presentation's connection to your audience. …

Ep. 21. Make the most of your voice on stage

April 11th, 2019


When you treat your voice as an instrument (and not an afterthought!) great things happen to your speeches... and to your audiences. This episode, we …

Ep. 20. Hey! The audience's eyes are up here! And over here... and...

April 9th, 2019


For once, the conventional wisdom has it right: eye contact with your audience is powerful. Here's how to put it to work for you — even when you have …

Ep. 19. Get your hands dirty

April 4th, 2019


Roll up your sleeves... because this episode we talk about the tools of the public speaking trade. And one tool in particular: your microphone.


Ep. 18. Prepare... even when you don't have time

April 2nd, 2019


I'm all about encouraging speakers to prepare and rehearse — but let's face it. There are times when you just haven't had a moment to prepare, and now it's 10 minutes 'til stage time.

So maybe this isn't going to be a …

Ep. 17. Practice. No, really practice.

March 28th, 2019


Think rehearsal and preparation kills your spontaneity? This episode could change your mind — by showing you how rehearsal actually frees you to make …

Ep. 16. Don't just read your speech. Perform it.

March 26th, 2019


This episode, we pivot from speechwriting to speaking itself. And we start with the single biggest way most speakers can level up: authentic performance.

Links: Steal the Show by Michael Port is a smashing book on …

Ep. 15. How to get great feedback on your speech

March 21st, 2019


How often have you asked for feedback with "let me know what you think"?

If you're trying to spark conversation, it isn't a bad gambit. But if you want actionable feedback on your speech, you need to use a much more …

Ep. 14. Get your audience to expect more... of themselves.

March 19th, 2019


Your speech has brought your audience on an emotional odyssey, and you've reached your narrative destination together. Now's the time to invite them …

Ep. 13. Don't meet your audience's expectations

March 14th, 2019


...Wait, what?

By all means, meet — or beat — your audience's expectations for what they'll get out of your speech. But not for what you put into it. Here's how to be surprising... and unpredictable, but reliable.


Ep. 12. Make your audience a little uncomfortable

March 12th, 2019


Every instinct tells us to make our audiences comfortable. Yet a little discomfort can lead to some of the most powerful experiences your speech can …

Ep. 11. Use slides well... if at all

March 7th, 2019


The world is full of speeches weighed down with terrible slide decks. Don't let yours be one of them. This episode, we look at how to make PowerPoint …

Ep. 10. Ease up on the statistics

March 5th, 2019


When your speech unleashes a flood of statistics, you can lose your audience's interest — and their emotional connection — fast. Let's talk about how to chose a gem of a statistic and put it in the perfect setting... …

Ep. 8: Consider all of your audiences

February 26th, 2019


The folks in the room are just one of the audiences your speech is going to reach. Here's how to think through who else may be listening in... and …

Ep. 7. Use plain language... but not just plain language

February 21st, 2019


Plain language can make your speech a lot clearer, and allow your ideas and thinking to shine through. But there are times when speechwriters and speakers want to reach for the more complex words... and even use (gasp!)

Ep. 6. Defend your narrative arc

February 19th, 2019


Between "helpful" suggestions from others and your own creativity, it often isn't easy keeping a speech on topic and on track. Here are some tools …

Ep. 5. Get vulnerable

February 14th, 2019


You've probably always been told to project confidence and certainty  when you're speaking from the stage. But if you want to truly connect with your …

Ep. 4. Plot Your Emotional Arc

February 12th, 2019


We've talked about your speech's one big story, the narrative arc. But running in tandem with it is something at least as important to your audience: the emotional arc.

Music:Upbeat” by Jon Luc Hefferman, used under a …

Ep. 3. Tell one big story... with your audience as the hero.

February 2nd, 2019


There are almost as many ways to approach writing a speech as there are speeches. But each one boils down to a story — one where the audience can …

Ep. 2. Know your audience

February 2nd, 2019


Before you can move an audience to where you'd like them to be, you need to know them. And that means a lot more than a head count. Here's what to look for, and where to find it — so you know exactly how to reach and …

Ep. 1. Know what you want to accomplish

February 2nd, 2019


The first thing you need to know before you start crafting a speech is this: what's your goal? What do you want your audience to think, feel and do …

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