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Leadership communications with Rob Cottingham

Business & Economics Podcasts

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.

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.




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.




Ep. 60. The pivot: Mozilla adapts to communicating in the lockdown

This time, we look at how the technology visionaries at Mozilla are making the pivot from face-to-face leadership communications to virtual channels. We're joined by Justin O'Kelly, Mozilla's senior executive communications manager. Links: Mozilla, makers of Firefox, Monitor, Send and more. Music: All music by Lee Rosevere. Theme: "Twitter Will Kill Us All." Used under a Creative Commons license. Image: from Mozilla


Ep. 59. Leadership communication through curation

If sharing really is caring, then the content you share needs to be content you really care about — and content your audience will care about too. This episode we look at content curation... and why just shovelling links onto Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn without care or context isn't just bad for your reputation — right now, it's dangerous to your audience. Links: I mentioned those mysterious letters "RSS", which really can make your life easier! If you're baffled, here's a pretty good...


Ep. 58. Going virtual (and staying human)

With so many face-to-face presentations being cancelled, a lot of speakers are looking at going virtual. But with webinars and online conferences suddenly getting a second look, it’s important to keep in mind their special demands. This episode, we talk to presentation coach, theorist, blogger, speaker and author Dr. Nick Morgan about what we lose when we go virtual, and how to make up some of that lost emotional connection. And we’ll hear from author and (her delightful description) camp...


Ep. 57. Making the best of a cancelled speech

Cancelled speaking gigs are a fact of life, but never more than today. And hey: with social distancing and disease prevention rightly taking precedence over oratory, we know better than to feel sorry for ourselves over postponed conferences and scrubbed events. But when you're left holding a speech without a stage to deliver it on, what's your next move? Instead of letting all your work writing and preparing your presentation go to waste, try these suggestions for getting some real value...


Ep. 56. Leadership communications in a crisis (part two)

Getting leadership communications right is never more important than in the middle of a crisis. And as COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks happening throughout much of the world, you may well be facing a crisis soon. Last episode, we talked about planning for your crisis leadership communications. This episode, we look at putting that plan into action with seven key principles: And stay tuned all week, as we look at some of the implications of the coronavirus outbreak for leaders and the...


Ep. 55. Leadership communications in a crisis (part one)

In a crisis, people are looking for reassurance, a sense of security... and leadership. And with COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks happening across the planet, you may soon need to step up on behalf of your organization — for anything from coping with a supply-chain issue to temporarily shutting your doors. How you communicate will make all the difference for your audience. This two-part episode looks at effective leadership communications in a crisis. Part one is all about preparation: the...


Ep. 54. It's called public speaking. Not public singing.

Are you falling into the trap of sing-song delivery? You could be sapping your speech's strength and breaking your connection to the audience. Here's how to recognize it... and how to stop. Wondering what's different about this episode? Could be the new theme music! Links: Episode 51 talks about how to reclaim your natural voice by talking to an audience of one (even when it's actually one thousand). Those voice acting lessons I mention are at Vancouver's On the Mic Training. Highly...


Ep. 53. How to Talk to Experts

Sooner or later speechwriters and other leadership communications practitioners find ourselves talking to a subject matter expert: somebody (usually part of your client's organization) who’s going to give some of their time and knowledge to make your speech or article better. Here's how to get the most out of their time and yours. Thanks to Clare Kumar, Deb Rohac, Patti Bacchus, Evan Leeson, Ben Roberts, Ben Lucier, Mark Busse, Rob Beggs, Susan RoAne, Jamie Cohen, Luis Giraldo, James Glave,...


Ep. 52. Drop the pitch!

It can be tempting to sell from the stage... especially when you know some of the people in your audience could be great customers. But resist that temptation. Here's why you should leave the sales pitch behind when you head to the mic — and how you can do a much better sales job if you aren't selling. Links: Go listen to The Freenoter, a great podcast by Tamsen and Tom Webster about making unpaid speaking opportunities pay off for you and your audience — without selling from the...


Ep. 51. Zoom in on your audience

Having trouble connecting emotionally with a speech you're writing or rehearsing? Maybe it's because you're trying to speak to the whole audience instead of just one person. This episode, here's why you may want to take a leaf from TV cop shows and zoom way in. (Note: This is episode of the podcast includes mild profanity: The word "bullsh*t" is used several times.) Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee...


Ep. 50. The Pigeon of Dorian Gray

I'm always telling you to tell stories... so for the 50th episode of the podcast, I'm going to share one of my own. It's about what a dead pigeon taught me about being a good speechwriter. Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "More On That Later," "Places Unseen," "Sad Marimba Planet," "Small Steps," "It Was Like That When I Got Here," "Landing" and...


Ep. 49. What kind of emotional connection do you want with your audience?

Coming up empty as you try to write your speech? Wondering why your presentations aren't landing quite as well as you know they should? You probably know you should connect emotionally with your audience — but maybe you need to think through just what kind of emotional connection you're both looking for. This episode, we look at six kinds of emotional connection, and how you can build them: confidence, trust, understanding, appreciation, shared values and what I call the mensch...


Ep. 48. Find your speaker superpowers in your origin story

For some reason, we love to hear how superheroes got their powers — their origin stories. And audiences will want to hear yours, too. Here's how to tell the story of how you got here in a way that connects with your audience and even moves them to action... faster (cough) than a speaking bullet. Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "Swiftwind,"...


Ep. 47. Careful with that spotlight!

As leaders, it can be tempting to forget that not everyone likes being the centre of attention. And when you have an audience, you can all too easily throw a harsh, unforgiving spotlight onto someone who isn't ready for it. This episode, we look at how to wield your audience's attention responsibly, whether it's from the stage or online. Links: Skip Weisman was kind enough to let me share his story with you. https://www.yourchampionshipcompany.com/ Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington...


Ep. 46. "Long Shot" and why speakers and speechwriters need some one-on-one time

This summer’s film Long Shot is an entire movie about how speechwriter and speaker relate to each other. And it has something to teach us about making that relationship work — and how the key ingredient is time. If you're thinking of catching it, the movie's a lot of fun, even if (or probably because) it isn't exactly a documentary portrayal of political speechwriting. Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen are great, and their chemistry is super (although, ahem, that's a line I don't recommend...


Ep. 45. What HBO can teach us about how NOT to write a speech

What does a speech look like stripped of the craft of speechwriting? HBO's hit show Succession gave us a glimpse with a hilarious eulogy delivered by character Connor Roy... and in the process, helps speechwriters and speakers avoid delivering dull, lifeless speeches. Links: Here's that eulogy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEdOB9OIh70. Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession. The writing credits for that episode of Succession go to series creator Jesse Armstrong...


Ep. 44. Speakers, have a seat (in the audience)

You can write a speech for a someone. Read it through. Rehearse with the speaker. But you won’t really know how effective it is unless you’re there when they deliver it. This episode: why speechwriters should fight for a spot in the audience, and how to use it to write better speeches. Music: Theme: "Good Times" by Podington Bear (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Podington_Bear/). Incidental music by Lee Rosevere (https://leerosevere.bandcamp.com/) including "You're Enough (version a),"...


Ep. 43. "How do you do, fellow kids?" Speaking to young audiences

A lot of speakers who'd happily get up in front of a thousand-person audience start getting the shakes at the thought of speaking to children or (gulp) teens. Fortunately, we have child-and-teen author Robin Stevenson here to share her experience speaking in front of countless school auditoriums and classrooms. She'll tell us how you can keep your next young audience rapt from beginning to end. About my guest: Robin Stevenson is the award-winning author of 25 books of fiction and nonfiction...


Ep. 42. Speechwriters of the world, unite! Creating communities of practice: interview with Elana Aptowitzer

Writing is usually a pretty solitary pursuit. But solitary doesn’t have to mean isolated. Find out how Elana Aptowitzer created a community of speechwriters inside the Canadian public service — and how you can start building a community of your own. About my guest: Elana Aptowitzer heads up speechwriting at Canada’s Department of National Defence. She launched the federal government's first speechwriters' community of practice, where public service speechwriters can share tools, resources...


Ep. 41. Changing the world... with op-eds

We’ve focused on speaking and speechwriting in the podcast — but there’s more than one way to connect with an audience. And one of the best: the venerable op-ed piece. About my guest: Today’s guest knows op-eds better than anyone I know: Professor Mira Sucharov is the author of Public Influence, and a prolific writer of op-eds published in such outlets as Haaretz, The Forward, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Citizen, The Daily Beast and Huffington Post. Dr. Sucharov is an...