Fireside Chats Are Chummier (But Chumminess Isn’t a Strategy)

If you want to sound like you have ideas, do an interview. If you have an idea you want to get across, do a speech.

In response to a Professional Speechwriters Association survey, a speechwriter identified a problem in the leadership communication business these days: “Excited utterances and spontaneous speeches being confused for actual exec comms.”

Yes, formal speeches are out, informal conversations are in: And leaders and audiences agree. 

Leaders, because “fireside chats,” as they are cozily called, are easy. No preparation necessary!

Audiences like them, because most speeches are dull, and they think a spontaneous fireside chat has a better chance to be amusing than a scripted speech.

Yet, conversations often sound like this heapin’ helpin’ of oral hobo hash, from CVS CEO Karen Lynch, in a fireside chat at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women conference earlier this month: 

Because I think it’s important as we think about our strategy, you know, I always want to look to the future. And if you think about the next few years, we’re going to have unprecedented change, more change than probably the last 50 years. Just look at the U.S. population and the demographics, the change that you’ll see is both massive, and it will be extreme. You know, the advent of technology is, you know, coming upon us faster than a freight train. And IBM says that there’s two and a half quintillion data bytes on a daily basis. And then you kind of look at the connectedness world, by 2030, 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet. And having said all that, health care costs are unprecedented. And if we don’t have radical change in the health care system, we will falter and we will fail in the health care system.

And, you know, one of the things that, you know, I was thinking about, people say you’re reinventing health care. No, I’m realizing, health care, because you know, everyone goes it’s reinventing it’s reimagining, well, I’m realizing the power of what we can do as a company, and our vision and our strategy is really about building connections in health care. And we’re starting with building multiple channels for accessing health care, that we can build locally, but have available nationally, we’re driving at value based care versus volume based care.

If Lynch was trying to get across an idea, she failed. Like a dozen times two paragraphs.

If she was trying to sound vaguely smart to semi-conscious boondogglers looking forward to the open bar, maybe she succeeded. 

But doesn’t the CEO of CVS have more strategically focused things to do with her million-dollar time than that?

I know damned well, her speechwriter does.

Leave a Reply

Download Whitepaper

Thank you for your interest. Please enter your email address to view the report.