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Updated by Nick Kellet on Nov 13, 2015
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The Seven Communication Secrets of Marc Benioff

Here's a quote from Dave Kellogg

"Here are the seven communications secrets of Marc Benioff, as I see them, from watching his performances at both opening keynotes of Dreamforce 11"

Source: http://kellblog.com/2011/09/15/the-seven-communication-secrets-of-marc-benioff/

1

Pick one message

Pick one message

While Benioff’s talks covered an enormous amount of ground and featured many guest appearances and videos, like an ostinato he kept coming back to one simple message: the social enterprise. Most speakers cannot resist the temptation to keep adding key messages until there is no message left at all. What Benioff does so well is boil it down to one thing, say it over and over again, and gradually — over years — evolve that one-thing theme: no software, platform-as-service, cloud, social.

2

Engage the audience

Engage the audience

Benioff penetrates the audience frequently, jumping off the stage and into the aisles, speaking from the floor (yet followed by some camera crews so everyone can see him). This alone is a great tactic to increase the audience bond. But Marc steps it up. As he goes through the crowd, he frequently stops — often mid-sentence — he says “Hi Joe,” “Hi Sarah,” or “Hi Pete,” shaking the hands of audience members. And he’s not reading name tags; he knows these people. He knows his customers and he’s engaged. The net feeling is half political rally, half evangelistic church service.

3

Be authentic

Be authentic

Being naturally skeptical, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was doing some things just for show. So I watched him closely during the demos and videos — when the cameras weren’t on — and he kept on shaking hands and saying hi. It was real. This kind of authenticity is rare; too many people act one way under the bright lights and another when they’re off. I think Benioff’s authenticity is further aided by his populist CEO attitude combined with his give-something-back philanthropic acts and beliefs (e.g., Salesforce.com foundation, $100M donation to UCSF)

4

Go big picture

Go big picture

Too many vendor executives stay too close to the product in their presentations, condemning themselves at the outset to some kind of glorified demo or product launch. And while plenty of products got launched during Benioff’s speeches, they were almost incidental — news items provided for a hungry press. Benioff was not afraid to hit big topics like Arab Spring and how social networking technology is changing the way we live. “I wonder how long it will be before CEOs are toppled the way governments were,” he mused at one point. “Thank you Facebook,” he said. “Does anyone ever say thank you Microsoft?” (A little humor never hurts as well.)

5

Mix it up.

Mix it up.

At something like 2 hours each, they keynotes were long sessions. In order to sustain audience attention, Benioff mixes it up, combining on-stage guests, interviews from the floor, demos, TV remote interviews, and videos. This is, in my estimation, the only way you can 15,000 people in a huge room engaged for so long.

6

Make it special.

Make it special.

Salesforce does a great job of making the event feel special from the world-class execution to the scale (40K total attendees) to the silly (e.g, SaaSy running around) to use of block seating (e.g., VIPs, bloggers, financial analysts) to the party (e.g., Will.i.am, Metallica) to the list of invited dignitaries including Neil Young, MC Hammer, Charles Phillips (now of Infor), Ray Lane, comebacker Sandra Kurtzig, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts (the single best-dressed person I have ever seen), and many others. Most vendors dream of user conferences that are true industry events. Salesforce is one of the few who pull it off.

7

Be excited

Be excited

Too many corporate speakers worry only about content and not about delivery. Great speakers masters their content early, and then work just as hard on delivery as on content. Since it’s hard to get other people excited if you’re not excited yourself, it’s important to really show your own excitement during a presentation. Benioff delivers his material with passion, keeps his energy level high during his presentation, and ultimately achieves the goal of making his own excitement infectious.