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Frank Sesno
Frank Sesno's Speaking Fee Under $25,000
Exclusively available through WSB

Frank Sesno

A renowned journalist who has covered some of the world’s biggest events and most consequential leaders, Frank Sesno has a reputation for fairness and integrity that few can match.
Anchor and Washington Bureau Chief, CNN (1984-2009) and Director, The George Washington University's School of Media & Public Affairs

Expertise In:

  • Professional Achievement
  • American Politics
  • Election Forecast and Analysis
  • Leadership
  • Media and Journalism

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Global Audiences
  • Lecture Series
  • The Health Care Industry

A renowned journalist who has covered some of the world’s biggest events and most consequential leaders, Frank Sesno has a reputation for fairness and integrity that few can match.

One of the world’s most experienced journalists, Frank Sesno provides an intriguing perspective into how today’s constantly changing headlines will affect you. With unparalleled insight and signature wit, he’ll tell you what issues are really at stake for the future and how politics, media, personality, and policy fit together in a compelling national story.

A reporter for nearly three decades, Sesno helped shaped the revolution in television news. As CNN changed the way the world communicates, it was Sesno who reported from the front lines—as a White House correspondent, anchor, Sunday talk show host, and Washington bureau chief. He has interviewed five American Presidents—Carter, Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43). He has also spoken to countless political, foreign, and business leaders, including Jack Welch, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Sean Spicer, and Nancy Pelosi. As Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, he is educating the next generation of journalists and political communicators.

Sesno is a frequent analyst on television and in print on the subject of American politics and media. He has hosted and produced documentaries for both The History Channel and PBS.

Sesno is the author of Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change, which illustrates that what connects the world’s most successful people is that they ask the right questions at the right time. It provides insight from the kind of illuminating interviews that have marked an award-winning career in journalism.

Featured Videos

Frank Sesno's Speech Topics

Virtual Moderator

At a time when events, panels, and conversations have moved to a virtual format, having a skilled and experienced moderator who understands the special challenges and opportunities of online conversations is essential. Frank Sesno brings his unique curiosity, caring, and deft interviewing skills to this new world of convening. As an experienced moderator and facilitator, Frank connects audiences and discussants with knowledge and a keen sense of timing and respectful engagement in order to optimize interest, information, and participation.  Sesno honed the skills of remote interviewing during his years at CNN as an anchor and talk show host. He will work with you and your organization across various platforms and technologies to maximize the effectiveness of virtual meetings, events, brainstorming sessions or community-building. Frank brings offers his subject matter expertise as well as his passion for engaging people to make this new virtual world as engaging as possible.  

There is art to this. Leading a meeting, event, conversation online is not like doing it in person. It's a significantly different experience. Virtual conversations are deprived of the body language, eye contact, and in-person dynamic one has when sitting next to someone on stage or in a room. The group dynamic is entirely different. Participation is more challenging. Sesno knows how to structure a discussion, engage speakers and audience more deliberately, and manage the conversation so a speaker is invested and makes the most of the technology and format.  

The Story of Health Care: What to Make of the Never-ending Debate and How to Frame it in 2020

Just about every adult in America has an opinion about the health care they get, the premiums they pay, the doctors they visit, the meds they take. We're obsessed with our health even as we see troubling trends and outcomes. And our national debate is stuck in neutral. Should the government play a larger role to make health care coverage available to all? Should it get out of the way and let the states and consumers find their way? Who should decide? Why do we pay so much? Why do we complain so loudly?

In this talk, Frank Sesno draws on a career of work as a journalist, educator, and author examining politics, health care, communication, and the media to explain out how you and your organization can make sense of the health care debate and engage it. The topic will be a major player in the 2020 election cycle. Where is the conversation going, what does the public really want, which issues will have traction with voters, candidates, and the media? Frank will offer ideas, insight, and real-world stories that will reveal how health care can be framed to resonate with the stakeholders who will shape its future.

Trump: An Unprecedented President

Donald Trump broke all the rules in his campaign. His presidency will be like no other. Where is this taking us and how will it change us? In this talk, Frank Sesno assesses the politics, policies, and personalities of the Trump presidency. Are they a fundamental departure from previous presidencies, or do the rules still apply? What about President Trump’s attacks on the media and “fake news”? Sesno draws on decades in Washington and his considerable experience covering and interviewing presidents to discuss the precedent, practice, and public face of the Trump Administration. Sesno also examines the current state of our civil discourse, and whether it’s possible to bring people together in such divided times. What questions should citizens be asking of Trump, of the media, of their representatives going forward? How can we use our questions to hold those in power to account while also listening well enough to be empathetic to them and to those with whom we disagree?

The Media and the Message

Social media. Fake news. The fall of legacy media. The rise of conspiracy media. The media landscape has never been more scrambled. Reaching the public is at once infinitely easier and agonizingly harder. Where is all this taking us? What happened to facts? How much “news” is actually in the news these days? Can the media report in ways that we will find credible? Can they “make” people listen?Frank Sesno has been a correspondent, anchor, news executive, and academic. This talk deconstructs the media, examining what journalists have become and where they’re going. Sesno asks, are we better off with the media we have or are we fighting a losing battle? How can we be an informed public when there’s so much out there that misinforms? This talk will surprise, shock, and anger you, but will ultimately give you hope that we’ll survive and adapt to the information tsunami.

Telling the Climate Story in the Age of Trump

The new president is a climate skeptic. Several members he's selected for his cabinet and policy teams are similarly inclined. They favor an all-in energy strategy and enthusiastically embrace fossil fuels. Environmentalists and many nations view this as a ruinous course. What’s the story of energy and climate in the Trump era? How should business, science, and advocates communicate energy, climate change, and planetary stewardship? In this talk, Sesno, creator of planetforward.org, argues that, because the American public is divided and confused on these issues, there need to be distinct approaches and deliberate framing. Messaging must be driven by purpose and audience. Sesno argues that framing the story around innovation and invention can inform, inspire, and appeal to the widest audience.

Moderated Panels and Leadership Discussions

Few people are as accomplished or experienced at the art of moderating panels and leadership discussions as Frank Sesno, who combines broad expertise, genuine curiosity, warmth, and humor as he draws out guests and panelists. As an interviewer, anchor, talk show host, and public event moderator, he has engaged some of the world’s leading personalities on topics ranging from business to international affairs, politics to medical breakthroughs, bio-terrorism to globalization. Sesno has conducted one-on-one public conversations with such diverse personalities as Condoleezza Rice, Jack Welch, Madeleine Albright and Yasser Arafat. He has interviewed five American presidents: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter. He has conducted high-profile panels, including a sold-out event with five former secretaries of state. And he has interviewed CEOs from Fortune 500 companies, including Bill Gates and Carlos Slim, bringing out their best and most interesting facets and creating a memorable, informative experience for the audience.

Ask for Success: How Questions Can Inspire Confidence, Mission, and Creativity at Your Organization

In this talk, author and master interviewer Frank Sesno explains how you can use something you probably take for granted – the questions you ask – to make your company more innovative, creative, and successful. A single, simple question can be disruptive if you know what you’re after, understand how you listen, and ask more. Sesno, a former Washington Bureau Chief at CNN and now Director of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, is author of Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions and Spark Change.How can you use questions to spark creativity and increase your business? How do effective leaders learn, engage members of their teams, and inspire confidence through listening? How do questions convey trust and create empathy? This talk by someone who has asked and studied questions will provide clear examples and practical ideas to foster a more open, collaborative, and high-impact workplace.

Works by Frank Sesno