My notes from leading a session on Oral Communication

At the Village Global Founder Retreat 2019 this summer, we brought together 75+ of our founders for a couple days of networking, content sessions, and relaxation.

I moderated a session on oral communication and public speaking. Below are my rough notes/talking points for my facilitation.

Three premises from me:

  1. It’s an incredibly high leverage skill to develop. As CEOs, we are storytellers-in-chief. We’re always telling stories. Being good at it means adapting our storytelling depending on who’s around, who’s in the audience.
  2. Need to actually practice and develop this skill. It doesn’t come naturally.
  3. Storytelling per se is one element of effective oral communication. There are other elements to the broader skill set of oral communication.

A few principles for being better at oral communication, be it in a meeting with a few people and large presentation, much of it inspired from Own the Room.

First, content.

  • Eliminate weak language. RECORD YOURSELF on video and audio and you’ll hear weak language (ums and ah’s).
  • Paint a picture and evoke an emotion. Set a scene. A scenario. “Imagine…” as an opener…
  • Involve the audience with the content. Poll the audience. Body polls. Thumbs up. Thumbs down. Audience engagement is crucial. Prepare the points of engagement.

Second, tone.

  • RANGE. Change in tone creates energy. Speed differences. Voice modulation. You can talk quickly or slowly and be a powerful speaker. The key is to change it up.
  • Pause. Nothing as powerful as a well-placed pause.

Third, body language.

  • Big gestures that mirror what you’re saying verbally. Get creative.

Fourth, use space.

  • If giving a presentation, move your body with each point purposefully. For Point A, stand here. For Point B, stand over there. Don’t nervously pace aimlessly.


  • Stories have beginning, middle, and ends.
  • Rehearse your jokes. Laugh lines should be prepared.
  • You’re not as good as extemporaneous speaking as you think you are. Prepare.
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