CEO speeches can be divided into two eras: Before Steve and After Steve.

Before Steve Jobs, CEOs were not expected to be performers. It was acceptable to give a boring talk. After Steve, not so much.

The bar has been raised, particularly in tech where Apple’s Tim Cook and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella have adopted the by now familiar approach of roaming around the stage.

CEOs may speak these days, but few of them write.

I expect that to change, and the catalyst will be people like Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, which is disrupting the world with its ChatGPT technology.

Altman, 37, is the model for how CEOs will increasingly communicate with employees, investors and other stakeholders.

He does few media interviews, but he’s active and visible on social media, particularly Twitter.

He doesn’t, however, do what “you are supposed to do.”

Most of his tweets are all text. They almost never have hyperlinks. He doesn’t use hashtags. He rarely includes a photo. His BIO page doesn’t say who he is. He writes in lowercase.

His posts are a random mix of whatever is on his mind, mostly related to OpenAI or significant life events.

It’s an authentic style made familiar by Elon Musk, but instead of casual cruelty, it’s infused with enthusiasm and a sense of curiosity.

The posts are not overtly promotional and do not seem to be managed or even supervised by PR, IR, comms or legal professionals.

Altman sometimes writes longer philosophic essays in the style of Paul Graham. The pieces explain everything from his philosophy about business to his approach to investing.

The advantage of taking the communication road less traveled is the opportunity to reach people directly. You aren’t dependent on the media. The only requirement is that you lean into the writing.

Few executives write online. Those that do, typically outsource it to staff or outside agencies.

It’s obvious when someone doesn’t write — or even participate — in the document that carries their name.

Over time that will become less and less acceptable.

It’s fine for executives to hire people to help, just as they might retain a coach to improve any skill. But they have to be involved.

Steve Jobs is a good example of what can be achieved when you combine an engaged CEO with a ghostwriter.

Jobs is well-known for delivering the 2005 commencement address to the graduates of Stanford University, regarded as one of the most memorable college speeches ever.

Less well known is that Michael Hawley, a friend who once shared a house with Jobs, helped write it.

Hawley was responsible for inserting the famous ending: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

It only worked, however, because it captured Jobs so perfectly.