In May 2015, Elon Musk gave a big speech. He wowed the crowd and even won over critics.
Musk, 44, runs Tesla Motors, a maker of electric cars. He’s also CEO of aerospace pioneer SpaceX.
As Tesla’s CEO, Musk delivered a presentation about the company’s new battery system. For 20 minutes, he spoke with an authenticity and enthusiasm that set him apart staid auto executives.
What differentiated his speech? To create buzz, he packed the room with fans. They laughed at his jokes and applauded on cue whenever he raved about Tesla’s new battery pack.
CEOs at other auto companies tend to speak to less boisterous audiences, such as journalists, who rarely cheer. In this case, Musk’s decision to invite supporters left the rest of the crowd caught up in their excitement.
Musk didn’t read from a prepared text like a typical auto industry chieftain. Instead, he glanced at a teleprompter but often strayed from it.
By improvising at times—and even stammering and repeating himself on occasion—Musk came across as more believable and trustworthy. Better yet, he spoke in jargon-free language. Automakers often talk about “best in class” performance or describe a “capable” car without defining what they mean.
Musk, by contrast, avoided such lingo. When describing existing batteries, he called them “really horrible,” adding that they’re “stinky, ugly, bad in every way.”
— Adapted from “5 things auto execs can learn from Tesla’s Elon Musk,” Nathan Bomey, www.usatoday.com.