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Five tips for a great CEO statement

It’s a fixture with most reports. It’s also a great communications opportunity. But putting together an interview with your CEO – or writing a CEO statement – isn’t always straightforward.


Here are five tips to make your life easier – and help your CEO shine

  1. Have something to say. Define 2-3 clear messages you want get across. Focus on these messages. Don’t get distracted by other agendas. Remember the CEO letter will probably be the most widely-read section of your report.
  2. Be simple and concise. Be clear and direct in your language. Don’t use jargon. Don’t try to be too technical. And keep the text as short as possible. The best CEO statements we’ve read tend to be 600-700 words in total.
  3. Address the real issues. Concentrate on the issues that matter – where you have most impact. If you’re a steelmaker, for example, that’s likely to be the environment or health & safety. And don’t be afraid of negative issues. Remember, whether negative or positive, if the issue is an important one, stakeholders want to hear what your CEO has to say.
  4. Be personal. Leadership is important. CEOs set the tone. Your readers want to know what the CEO thinks. How much of a priority are these issues, exactly? What kind of commitment does the CEO bring to this? How does it fit with his /her vision and strategy for the company?
  5. Look forward (not back). Don’t spend too much time looking back. Let the rest of the report deal with the previous year. It’s the CEO’s job to look forward – to set an agenda.

The CEO statement is embedded in reporting rules. It’s part of the Global Reporting Initiative’s general disclosures. You can choose the format, however. An interview is often less formal; it also makes it easier to get at difficult issues. Whatever format you choose, it should fit with the ‘style’ and approach of your CEO. And it should also fit your audience – are you talking to stakeholders or just to investors, for example?

However you approach this, the CEO statement is a chance to get your message out there. Make the most of it.