Communicate Like a CEO
by Dana Bristol-Smith

CEOs are the people that we look up to in an organization (most of them anyways). Granted, not all of them have excellent communication skills, however, many of them do. Marcus Buckingham in The One Thing You Need to Know says this about leaders:

“The leader’s role is to be able to paint a vision of a future that is better than where we are today and inspire others to work toward creating it.”

I believe that communication is the foundation for good leadership. How is your “leadership” communication? Do you project confidence and credibility though your communications?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, to see if you have a solid foundation of communication skills to help you be seen as a leader in your organization.

  1. Do you project optimism to those who work with and for you?
  2. Do you acknowledge others' contributions out loud?
  3. Do you paint the picture of a better future with a clear vision?
  4. Do people feel encouraged and inspired after your meetings or presentations?
  5. Do your team members know what you expect of them?
  6. When making a request are you specific?
  7. When communicating with senior executives, are you clear, concise, and direct?

In our High Impact Presentations workshop the most powerful exercise is called CEO for a Day. We promote each of our participants to CEO of their companies. We then ask that they each craft their opening message to their executive team and deliver it. What is dramatic about this activity is that our participants rise to the challenge and present themselves more powerfully and persuasively, as if they are the CEO.

I’ve learned from conducting this exercise numerous times that sometimes all people need, is to be given permission to project their best and most confident selves.

Carmine Gallo, of Gallo Communications Group, is a presentations coach and writer for Business Week Online. Carmine has taken a look at CEOs and explored their communication and presentation styles. He has examined some of the most well-known leaders of our time. From Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz; Intuit founder Scott Cook; personal finance guru Suze Orman; Apple CEO and founder Steve Jobs; founder Jeff Taylor; as well as many others.

Business Week Online has put together an online slideshow that’s worth taking a look at to see how these well known CEOs lead and inspire others through their communications. Click below to view.

Best Communicators Slideshow - Top CEOs

If you are interested in more information, Carmine’s research comes from his book 10 Simple Secrets of The World's Greatest Business Communicators.

Here’s a link to Carmine Gallo's book at

What I’d like you to take away from this article is that it’s up to you to project your best, most confident self when you are standing up at the front of the room or leading a meeting. Others look to you for your opinion, how you feel about a particular topic, and your recommendations.

Are you able to, as Marcus Buckingham says:

“Paint the picture of the future that’s better than where we are today and inspire others to work toward creating it”?


About the author
Dana Bristol-Smith is the founder of Speak for Success, an organization that works with companies that want their people to communicate with confidence and credibility. You can email Dana