Class review: 1 on 1 Presentation Skills course, Barry Callebaut
  • Eric Molin

Class review: 1 on 1 Presentation Skills course, Barry Callebaut

Updated: 5 days ago


In November we were contacted by Chester Brock, a global finance expert working for a international global cocoa bean company, Barry Callebaut (annual turnover $5bn +) . He was to planning give a speech to 150 people in 2 months time.


As an already experienced public speaker, he was presenting his flagship project (an online finance learning academy) to the whole organization, and he wanted to be at the top of his game.

So we met in his office in Zurich, found a small empty conference room (which was packed with furniture, more about that later), and got to work.


At the beginning of every coaching session I want to see how people are already presenting by asking them to just jump up there and do their introduction the same as they would in front of a live audience. So I can identify their strengths, the things they are doing well, and areas for possible improvement. To take their baseline, so to speak. Here is his first draft of his opening.



As you can see, like a lot of business presentations, he jumps right into the subject matter.


The problem with this approach is that when speaking the adrenline rush takes over and we try and get everything out. But what about our audience? Anyone who might have been finishing an email or who was not fully present for any reason would have missed out on a lot of the opening. Not to mention, just because you are rushing to get it all out doesn't mean that your nervousness will subside. If anything, you'll make it worse.


What we teach is that if you learn a powerful and original opening, you will command your audiences attention for your entire talk. The trick is to space it out, engage the audience if you can, and not try to rush through it. As you go through what you practiced, you will feel your adrenaline and any anxiety fade away and be replaced by enthusiasm.


Rather than opening up with a traditional opening, we focused on a 2 stage opening. First, with an audience poll - getting his audience involved, then once he had their attention, second, with a quote which connected to his subject of finance and learning, and finally, after grabbing his audience's attention and making think about his subject, he shows them a video (in this case, a demonstration video).


Quotes add impact to your talk, and www.brainyquote.com is a great resource (which is also free). Chester chose a relevant quote from Benjamin Franklin which covered both

investment and education. After a couple of hours, here was his new and improved opening.


Someone asked me "is it OK to move back and forth like that?" to which the answer is (usually) "No". Keep in mind, if you don't give yourself enough space to move around, then moving back and forth will happen. People move when speaking passionately about something which is important to them and if you don't have space to move, it will end up as pacing back and forth within the limited space you have. Later, in February, when he gave his final presentation to the full audience, he had the whole stage to use (which he did).


The presentation was a success. Afterwards one of the senior managers (the CFO) shook his hand in front of everyone and his initiative was off to a roaring start.


Developing your presentation skills are more than just surviving your time on stage, they are also about the respect and influence you win from your audience.


Chester shares his experience below - thank you Chester for recording this for us!

How can we help you with your public speaking and presentation skills? Get in touch, we're happy to give you a first consultation at no charge.

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