One of the biggest battles I face when dealing with CEO's is convincing them that their communication issues are not the result of what they think they don't do well but rather what they think they already have a handle on. In other words, when it comes to communication, it isn't the presentation skills or surface displays that are letting them down but the message.
It is an attitude that is the corporate equivalent of "sell the sizzle not the steak" but you can only do that if you are dealing with quality steak in the first place. Sadly, in the corporate world the "steak" or message is often quite awful. The fact is that if your message is overly complicated, irrelevant, discredited, boring and predictable then no amount of dressing it up is going to help and the proof of this is all around us - it's called advertising.
Think about it... the vast majority of advertisements you see on T.V. are slickly produced and beautifully made. They are well lit and cleverly filmed. They employ quality actors who know how to deliver a tag line and how to look good doing it. They are even scheduled for maximum impact in a timeslot specifically tailored to their target audience and they are repeated ad nauseum in case you missed it the first time. There is hardly a criticism to be made from a "sizzle" point of view but many miss the mark and fail to influence those that they were aimed at. Why? Because the "steak" is crap.
Just because an ad agency knows how to make an ad does not mean they know how to communicate a message. Seriously, how many times have you sat in front of your T.V. wondering what "creative" idiot thought that ad was a good idea and, more to the point, what kind of idiot executive agreed with them? As a counterpoint, stop and think for a moment how many porrly produced ads out there have actually done a realy good job of getting their message across. In fact, some of the most memorable ads are those that weren't slickly produced or employed acting talent - they just had a simple, credible, relevant message delivered with some heart in a way that left you pleasantly surprised.
In communication it ain't the sizzle... it's the steak!