By: Matt McDonald, mmcdonald@hamiltonps.com and Brandon Velez, bvelez@hamiltonps.com

Giving a speech is not something most of us do every day, but during this pandemic, someone in your organization may be called upon to deliver a set of prepared remarks, even in a remote setting. Whether you’re communicating positive or negative news to your customers or employees, a speech is a high-stakes form of communication during a crisis. As you prepare remarks, we suggest three guidelines for your approach:

Use Clear And Direct Language

  • Speak to your audience in plain language to avoid confusion, or worse, having your words misconstrued. During a crisis, people do not want to hear jargon or flowery language. They want straight talk.
  • Using language that is not accessible to your entire audience might create the appearance that you are obscuring the details, rather than clarifying them. If your speech is presented in simple and plain language, the more credibility you will build with your audience.

Exercise Transparency

  • If you are a leader of a business or organization, you are likely navigating a moment of volatility and turbulence. There may be a decline in revenue already, or it might be just around the corner. The good news is that everyone else in the organization knows this. Therefore, err on the side of disclosure and give them your honest assessment of where things stand.
  • Outline in detail how the organization is thinking about health and safety of the team, whether that is in a remote context or in an essential workplace. People are scared and want to know that your company cares about their well-being too.

Practice Empathy And Offer Hope

  • When you are drafting remarks, assume that someone who will hear your speech has lost a loved one to coronavirus. Read and edit with that lens in mind.
  • As quarantine life extends and the economy buckles, people are feeling discouraged about the prospects of the future – and rightfully so. As a leader addressing your audience, it’s important to incorporate a message of hope throughout your remarks to remind people that this crisis will end.

Public speaking under these circumstances is not easy. However, people will look back on this crisis and judge the words of leaders all around them. Those that will be remembered as rising to the occasion are the ones who offer clarity, honesty, and hope for the future.