Blog 8 min read 01 April 2022

How to Lose Your Cool, Persuade a Sceptic and Avoid a Hollywood Fail

Impact Insights – Four Leaders, Four Lessons in Communications

Impact Insights by Kekst CNC provides four practical tips you can use next time you’re communicating - with the media, employees, peers or investors.

Scroll down to meet this month’s leaders…

The beautiful game and an ugly crisis

Doing your job without dismissing what matters

  • Football is frivolous. War is life and death. In the middle is Thomas Tuchel. He is the man tasked with running a global club owned for 17 years by a now-sanctioned Russian oligarch. 
  • The Chelsea manager can’t be dismissive about Ukraine and bat-off reporters’ questions with football clichés. But nor can he seek to commentate on the crisis.
  • His bind might feel familiar. As a leader, how do you engage with the Ukraine situation meaningfully, without demeaning the importance of the day-job?
  • Tuchel’s solution looks instinctive. In moments of high emotion, simply holding up a mirror to your audience and articulating how they feel is powerful.
  • Watch the first 45 seconds of this clip. As he says “It’s horrible, horrible”, he’s emotionally affected, close to losing his cool. Exactly how many people watching will feel.

The lesson for leaders: In a crisis, you can’t always give answers, but the audience doesn’t always want them. Recognition of how they feel is powerful.

Building trust in a tinderbox

The science of winning around a hostile crowd

  • If you’ve ever struggled to deliver bad news to a sceptical audience, take a look at this footage of Senator Bobby Kennedy.
  • This week back in 1968, moments before taking the stage for a stump speech to a largely African-American crowd in Indianapolis, he received news that Dr Martin Luther King Jr had been murdered.
  • In delivering the news to the crowd, the threat of rioting was real, as was the threat to him.
  • What he said was an historic moment of peace-making. In a 5-minute address, he recalled the murder of his own brother, John F Kennedy, and the way it too had filled him with “hatred and mistrust”.
  • The approach established that he and his audience weren’t on opposite sides, they were comrades – and their common enemy was injustice and division.
  • That night, riots erupted all over America, but not in Indianapolis. The crowd went home peacefully.

The lesson for leaders: You can’t persuade people who don’t understand you. Look for the piece of common ground and make your case from there.

Can you say it in a tweet?

Apple’s devotion to simple sentences

  • When you’re communicating big ideas, you’ll know that shorter is better. Apple treat that idea like a religion.
  • Every product Apple launches has its own crisp explanatory sentence, short enough to fit into a tweet (the 140-character kind).
    • Their first ever streaming service? “Our mission for Apple TV Plus is to bring you the best original stories from the most creative minds in television and film”.
    • The latest AirPods? “We took the best-selling headphones in the world, and made them ever better.” Watch Exec Susmita Dutta launch them from 9mins in this video presentation.
  • To non-experts, their press releases are impenetrable. But the consumer audience always gets a message that’s aggressively pared-down, ready-made for social media.

The lesson for leaders: Next time you’re delivering an idea to a general audience, challenge yourself to condense it to a tweet. If you can’t, you might want to simplify it.

Failing to Prepare: The Movie

The perils of relying on autocue at a high-stakes moment

  • We don’t seek to spotlight errors at Impact Insights, but if anyone can handle it, it’s blockbuster supremo Michael Bay.
  • Brace yourself – Bay’s 2014 appearance at electronics fair CES is not an easy watch. After his teleprompter fails, it becomes clear he’s unprepared and thus unable to improvise.
  • Within seconds, his body-language broadcasts his anxiety to the audience – wringing his hands, sighing, turning his back on them – and in less than 90seconds, he’s chosen flight over fight, and left the stage.

The lesson for leaders: The tech can always break. And if you’re underprepared, it probably will.


If you’re interested in enhancing the impact you make, get in touch with the Impact Communication team. We’re helping leaders every day to make stronger connections with the media, their employees, their peers and investors. Email: [email protected]