Great leaders learn from others mistakes as much as their own. Which is why leaders should use Trump's national emergency declaration as an example of what not to do when publicly speaking.
Last Friday, President Donald Trump addressed the nation during his national emergency declaration. No matter where you stand on the validity of this national emergency, Trump's border wall, or immigration reform in general, there are some major public speaking do not's demonstrated in Trump's speech.
Whether you're the CEO of a company addressing your board of directors, an entrepreneur speaking at a mastermind event, or a leader addressing the public during a televised speech avoid doing these three things when you give a speech.
1. Avoid vague language when publicly speaking.
President Trump has been widely critiqued since Friday for being vague throughout his declaration. A speech is an opportunity for you to come correct. You have the chance to engage in a one-sided conversation that you control. Which is why is incredibly vital that if presenting facts you use direct, and concise language and avoid using vague terms that leave your listeners questioning your sincerity.
For example, when Trump was discussing border security to demonstrate the legitimacy of this national emergency he stated "I use many stats. I use many stats...You have stats that are far worse than the ones that I use, but I use many stats."
The vague statement of "many stats" did not suffice to prove the point he was trying to make to his listeners. If you're a CEO who's giving a public speech and trying to empower listeners to follow your lead use real numbers and statics that can help drive your point home.
2. When addressing the public, you should stick to the facts.
The public appreciates transparency. If you fail to stay true to the facts you are setting yourself up for public backlash.
During Trump's declaration, he stated that The US, Mexico, and Canada were indirectly paying for the wall. This was in reference to the USMCA trade deal which has not been approved or gone into effect--and therefore in no real way can make any transactions that can go towards funding the wall.
Trump also stated "I built a lot of wall. I have a lot of money, and I built a lot of wall."
It's common knowledge that no part of this wall has begun construction--let alone been completed. When leaders state inaccuracy's such as this, it undermines the authority.
Your audience has Google. So everything you say as a leader can be thoroughly scrutinized. Instead of misrepresenting facts, avoid saying them at all. More importantly in today's age of viral posts, your reputation could be destroyed if an expert comes forward and contradicts what you claimed to be the truth.
Trump also explained that "Where a bad person comes in, brings 22 or 23 or 35 of his family members because he has his mother, his grandmother, his sister, his cousin, his uncle. They're all in."
Immigration experts have gone on record to explain that Trump's theory of chain migration has no real basis, and is inaccurate.
Instead of providing inaccuracies to paint your desired picture to the public, stick to the facts. This is the very reason Yahoo's former CEO Scott Thompson was fired in 2012. His corporate bio claimed he had a degree in computer science, even though he didn't. When the public caught wind of this lie, Thompson was let go. As a successful CEO of Yahoo, it was clear Thompson didn't need this degree to thrive. Still, the point remained that he had lied to the public and because of this Yahoo knew they had to let him go.
3. Don't contradict yourself.
A speech is a great time to prove a point and to inspire your listeners to be a part of the change you are aiming to create. Use this time to build traction, and make clear and convincing points. If you contradict yourself, you leave room for your listeners to question you. So avoid contradicting yourself at all costs.
The purpose of Trump's national emergency declaration was to show the public why the US immigration was in such a desperate state that it could be categorized as a national emergency. Which was why it was confusing for Trump to state, "I could do the wall over a longer period of time, I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.".
Statements like this sabotages his point by showing the public there is no need for a national emergency.
If you're a leader who runs a startup you need to approach any time your speaking to the public as an opportunity to share your story, and to allow them to see your vision. This is impossible if you use these leadership moments to contradict yourself.
Instead, have a clear vision and goal you want to introduce to the public, and then have a detailed ask or call to action you want them to support.