Class review: 1 on 1 Presentation Skills course, Barry Callebaut
Updated: Jul 25
In November 2018 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 in 2 months time and as an already experienced public speaker, he wanted to have an expert review and give feedback regarding his performance.
He would be presenting his flagship project (an online finance learning academy) to the whole organization, in front of an audience of approx 120 people, including Members of the Board.
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 and begin their presentation, the same as they would as if they were in front of a live audience. This is so I can identify their strengths, the things they are doing well, that they can focus on and then find 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. There are a few reasons for this.
The problem with this approach is that when speaking, we're excited, we're nervous, we're a mix of emotions and when we get up on stage the adrenaline rush takes over and we try and get everything out.
And what about our audience? To them, a rushed opening seems like you want to get it over with or that you have somewhere better to be. Additionally, at the beginning of most talks, people are not fully present (mentally). It takes a while (or an engagement technique, more about that in a second) to fully have everyone's attention. So while you are rushing through your opening, anyone who might have been finishing an email or otherwise not fully tuned in would have missed out on a lot of the opening.
And finally, 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 at Impact Presenting 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 3 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 and was highly relevant, 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, and its also free. Chester chose a relevant quote from Benjamin Franklin which covered both
investment and education (tip regarding quotes: don't pick a quote because it sounds nice or catchy - pick a quote because somehow it connects to your subject and your relationship to your subject) 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" but, this is a good example of what happens when we have to present in a restricted place. Always make sure to give yourself enough space to move around. People move when speaking passionately about something they have created, or 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 (and he did).
His presentation was well-received and a success. Afterwards, the CFO shook his hand in front of everyone and told him he really liked it (so he earned social currency) and his initiative was off to a roaring start.
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.