Five steps to writing a speech that motivates

Lo sé, está en inglés.

En la EEN, Escuela Europea de Negocios, todos los master se inparten en castellano. Sin embargo, existe la asignatura de inglés obligatoria. Por desgracia, entre nuestros licenciados universitarios españoles, los idiomas son una grave asignatura pendiente y el inglés en particular. Tanto es así que muchos de nuestros programas internacionales son pueden ser seguidos por muchos alumnos debido a este grave déficit.

Conclusión:  no lo pienso traducir.


Rob Friedman of Eli Lilly always looks hard at these five—correction, five and a half—basics before he sits down to write a speech that will influence workers to do something
In 2001 pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly lost its patent on Prozac. At that time Prozac accounted for a quarter of all Lilly’s domestic sales. To say they faced serious economic issues would be an understatement.

But amid the cutbacks and elimination of bonuses, Chairman Sidney Taurel delivered a speech meant to motivate employees through difficult times.

“He stood up and held up a single dollar bill and he said, ‘As the management, and most of all me, should be the ones bearing most of the burden during this time, I will be working next year for this symbolic dollar,’” said Rob Friedman, director of executive communications at Eli Lilly. “It’s something people still remember to this day.”
Needless to say, that was one heck of a motivational speech.

The motivational speech remains one of the most important, yet difficult speeches a speechwriter can write.

But with the recent struggles of the airline, automotive and telecommunications industries—not to mention a looming recession—corporate leaders must step up and motivate employees to stay loyal when the going gets tough.

So how do speechwriters and executives write and deliver a motivational speech during times of heightened employee skepticism and waning loyalty?

Friedman provided five steps to crafting an effective motivational speech by applying the techniques of the “touring circuit” motivational speakers to executive communication, with a few key additions.

Step 1: Empathize with employees.

“We need to always ask ourselves, ‘What is it that our people need, what are the motivators?’” Friedman said. “We need to empathize with our employees’ needs and tailor our motivational speeches to those needs.”

For some companies, those needs could be financial. For other companies it could be a collective goal to finish a large project on time. For Lilly, Friedman said, it’s about making a difference in people’s lives.

“It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true,” he said. “Our employees got into this business to find cures for diseases and help improve the quality of life for patients who are suffering. To try to use money as a motivational factor would undermine why they work here.”

Step 2: Identify the challenges.

“We should ask ourselves, ‘Where does that motivation need to be aimed?’” Friedman said. “What type of effort are we going to ask for from these employees to reach our goal? What are they going to push back on?”

This step is crucial in determining the approach to take with employees. If there are going to be cutbacks and employees are going to have to work longer hours for the same amount of money, that’s a difficult sell to employees.Just make sure you help your executive identify all of the challenges before being ambushed by a hostile work force.

Step 3: Determine what ‘levers’ you can pull.

“The most successful motivational speeches I’ve read or heard all have one thing in common,” Friedman said. “They all tap into emotion. They pull that emotional lever that employees have and prompt them into action.”

In other words, Friedman said, tap into the human aspect of what you’re asking your employees to do. Let them see why it’s worth overcoming the challenges by appealing to their emotions. If you find yourself still struggling for a way to tie your challenges to your employees’ emotions, look no further than step four.

Step 4: Use anecdotes and examples of ‘heroes.’

“A good analogy would be the president pointing out the war heroes in the gallery during his State of the Union address,” Friedman said. “Figuratively speaking, the hero lights the way. But it’s important to remember that the hero doesn’t have to be a single human.”

Friedman employs this important step in nearly all of the speeches he writes. He often looks back in the 130-year history of Lilly to find some time when the company overcame a similar obstacle, and he incorporates that into speeches.

“The organization is then the exemplar,” Friedman said.“This is particularly helpful in situations where teamwork is necessary to achieve the goals you’ve set.”

Step 4-a: Show examples of failure.

On the flip side of showcasing heroes and positive anecdotes, another effective step is employing the use of the negative example to show what could happen if the group fails to overcome the challenges it faces.

“This is a really great tool when trying to motivate employees to improve the quality of their work,” Friedman said. “Stories of past failures might be good examples of bad examples, examples that show employees what could happen if they fail.”

Step 5: Walk the walk.

At the end of the day, executives’ actions will always speak louder than their words. Employees need to see that they’re not the only ones who will have to sacrifice and suffer. They must see that that executives won’t just sit comfortably in their corner offices.

“There needs to be a bond between the speaker and the employees,” Friedman said. “That bond has to convey,‘We’re in this together,’ and oftentimes that’s achieved through action.”

The bottom line, Friedman said, is to make sure the motivational speech is filled with passion.

“A motivational speech can’t be delivered in a lifeless monotone with a lot of qualifiers like ‘maybe’ or ‘we might’ or‘possibly,’” Friedman said. “The motivational speech must always be filled with passion and conviction that what the executive is asking of the employees can actually be done. Otherwise, forget it.”


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