How do you handle an awkward CEO?

If you’re saddled with a leader or client who’s a poor communicator or a stilted speaker, there is hope. Here’s how to play up strengths and minimize glaring weaknesses.

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CEOs are often the face, conscience and voice of the company.

Unfortunately, our lofty corporate leaders are, um, not always an ideal fit for that global spokesperson and ambassador role.

Some are aloof. Many are abrasive and intimidating.

Others, meanwhile, feel they are “natural communicators” who don’t need any input or training. These are the folks who feel compelled to say or do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want.

That can cause any number of nightmares for communicators, such as:

Of course, execs who are lousy communicators can cause more prosaic, everyday headaches, such as:

Do any of these sound familiar? Sure they do. Now, let’s dive into some sound advice on how to handle that oddball CEO of yours.

Expert guidance on executive comms

It’s all about establishing clarity and expectations—and repeating yourself—according to NYC-based publicist Jon Salas.

“Repeating back what you understood allows you to confirm if what you understood was accurate and also allows you to give them a chance to react before you take action,” Salas says. In other words, don’t assume that what you heard is what she meant. Confirm, repeat, and get those takeaways in writing.

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