BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Ian Russell, CEO, Scottish Power

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out - Ian Russell, CEO, Scottish Power - Ian Russell, a tall, bird-like figure with a refined Scots accent, was introduced at Business in the Community's conference on corporate social responsibility as someone who could talk about rebuilding trust in the corporate sector. He had a good story to tell and started off reasonably well, deploying geography as an engaging tactic - always guaranteed to grab audiences.

by Khalid Aziz, chairman of spoken communications specialist, TheAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Ian Russell, a tall, bird-like figure with a refined Scots accent, was introduced at Business in the Community's conference on corporate social responsibility as someone who could talk about rebuilding trust in the corporate sector. He had a good story to tell and started off reasonably well, deploying geography as an engaging tactic - always guaranteed to grab audiences.

With two-thirds of its business US-based, Scottish Power is far from Scottish these days. Having sold its water and retail interests to focus on energy, it had recognised that 'the energy company of the future would be a sustainable energy business'. In 2001, it was responsible for 20% of all wind power development in the US.

A great story, but dreadfully delivered. It was clear that this was a speech written by someone else, read in a plodding manner by a CEO who seemed disconnected. Down went his head and off he went. Not that the speech itself was brilliantly written either. It was far too wordy - 'nevertheless' when 'but' would have done, 'in addition' when 'what's more' would have made the speech flow so much better. Monotonous delivery made the speech sound like the latest television betting for the 2.10 at Sandown. The audience rapidly took refuge in its conference brochures. How about the CSR of not boring 500 people at a stroke!

Key moment: After the storms of 1998 in Scotland, Scottish Power cut down trees near power lines to prevent similar line damage happening again.

Key lesson: Short Anglo-Saxon words work better in speeches.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?: Foot in mouth.

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