Brain Food: Speaking out Robert Bonnier, CEO, Scoot

Brain Food: Speaking out Robert Bonnier, CEO, Scoot - The Dutch are famously good speakers of English and Robert Bonnier is no exception. But although the Scoot CEO has a good command of the language, he clearly draws his antecedents from a Teutonic gene

by KHALID AZIZ, chairman of spoken communications specialists theAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Dutch are famously good speakers of English and Robert Bonnier is no exception. But although the Scoot CEO has a good command of the language, he clearly draws his antecedents from a Teutonic gene pool - his speech was as miserable as sin. Why so dour, Robert? Serious subjects seldom benefit from a solemn approach but fun subjects positively cry out for a lighter touch. And why, when you have a web site much admired by industry colleagues, do you have such average slides, crammed with detail and using hard-to-read fonts? Most amounted to little more than his notes on screen.

The point about poor visuals had been made by a previous speaker: 'When someone accesses your web site, your company stands naked before the potential customer.' It's the same with presentations. If you are the chief executive and your slides are bad, all the hard work you put into driving the company is undone in a moment. Be ruthless with your visual aids. If they are not up to the mark, throw them out.

Bonnier also recited key business principles apparently embraced by e-merchants. For example, we have to 'understand what the customer wants', and 'the brand has to stand for the functionality of the offer' - which I guess means you don't go to McDonald's to get a tyre fixed. Above all, Bonnier asserts that they have to offer 'value-based pricing' - code for: if it isn't cheap enough, they won't buy it. Welcome to the real world.

Key moment: The revelation that Scoot is doing a roaring trade finding female taxi drivers for women who don't want to be taken for a ride by a man. They get 3,500 requests a week.

Key lesson: Lighten up. You don't have to be a comedian, but humourless speakers turn audiences off.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth?

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