We chose Julie Sweet for our "Best Public Speakers" list because of her ability to bring poise and strength of a great leader while relating to her audience. Julie is chair and Chief Executive Officer of Accenture leading over 500,000 people globally. She became CEO in September 2019 and assumed the additional position of chair in September 2021. Previously, she served as CEO of Accenture’s business in North America, the company’s largest geographic market. Prior to that, she was Accenture’s general counsel, secretary, and chief compliance officer for five years.
by Stephanie Bickel
The best public speakers event we reviewed was an interview from April 1, 2020 called Accelerating Equality For All in The Workplace. Julie's interview session with Clifton Leaf explores the type of leadership needed to navigate innovation, technology’s impact on business, as well as inclusion and diversity. This dialogue exemplifies the portrait of a "For All Leader" and the impact of using one's personal story to create opportunities for not only all to enter positions of leadership but to also lead the world from within one's authentic self.
Julie's greatest leadership communication skills:
Executive presence and engaging style: Julie has a polished and structured look in this interview. She leans in to her interviewer to help build a personal connection.
Hand gestures: Excellent use of purposeful hand gestures that support her message
Message structure: Julie answers questions with clearly structured answers. Each response is organized and multiple points are numbered to help orient her audience
Energy: Julie walks onto the stage with energy and confidence. During the interview the energy feels very conversational and relaxed. Then at 11:15 she sits forward, uses bigger gestures and more dynamic vocal presence to discuss an exciting new launch for Accenture. This brings focus and emphasis to something she is passionate about.
Positivity and gratitude: She manages to stays positive while discussing the future. Optimism is reassuring and welcome during this globally challenging time. She also expresses gratitude for those who helped her along her journey.
Eye contact: While Julie is speaking with her interviewer, Clifton, she looks directly at him when speaking. She also uses eye contact to include the audience intermittently.
Storytelling: She shares both professional and personal knowledge gained from her past experiences. The personal glimpses help us feel connected to her.
What Julie could do to improve her leadership communication skills:
We would like to see Julie focus on her posture. Often she leans on her right elbow and allows her shoulders to curl forward
Julie occasionally uses unnecessary "filler words" (um, right?) when expressing her thoughts.
At 18:30, the interviewer uses "hoity toity", a phrase associated with snobbery that implies lack of accessibility when describing her professional services firm. We would encourage Julie to be more direct in her rejection of that kind of representation of Accenture's brand without humor. Sometimes humor can diminish the impact we are trying to make.
While beyond her control, the microphone she was given makes crackling sounds each time she moves. The tech crew filming this interview should be sure to work out these issues so there are no distractions for the audience
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