Barbara is an experienced manager in her company. She has recently been promoted. One of her new responsibilities includes making a quarterly progress report to her division of 100 employees. Barbara indicated in the answers to her questionnaire that this is the biggest meeting she's ever led and the stakes are high. She also indicated that she is very nervous speaking in front of people.
During the assessment, Barbara performs her speech. We notice that Barbara has a tendency to look at the floor, avoiding eye contact with the audience, and she tends to trail off at the ends of her sentences. She sounds apologetic, even though the report is largely good news. She also has far too many slides in her deck and far too much information on each slide. And, while she is providing a lot of information, it's not clear what the big takeaways are supposed to be.
Barbara needs help with both her delivery and her content. Her over-reliance on overloaded slides is probably a defense mechanism, as if to say, “the more information I can cram onto each slide, the better I will look.” (Quite the opposite is true, actually.) We need to get Barbara more in-touch with her audience and we need her slides to be more in service of that goal. Let's say we do it in five sessions.
“Who is Your Audience?”
Half the session is work on identifying the audience we are addressing: who are they? What are their expectations? What are your expectations? How well do you know them? What equity do you have with them? Are there people that need to be recognized and/or thanked?
The second the half of the session will be about breaking the entire presentation into a series of bullet points, each of which will serve as a thesis statement.
“Public Speaking Drill”
Using the thesis statements we found from the last session, we will drill them with an eye for Barbara's weak spots: eye contact, vocal and physical gesture, emphasis, and use of space.
In the second half of the session we will build on these simple statements, using our Q & A about the audience from session #1 to build relevant questions, call-outs to the audience, and personal stories.
Now that we have a lot of pieces in place, we'll develop an ice-breaker that serves to introduce both the speaker and the topic.
We will also look at Barbara's slide deck and cut/edit for maximum impact.
In the last part of the session, we will put everything together for one run, with notes at the end.
“Putting It All Together”
This session is dedicated exclusively to coaching the full presentation with stops and starts and notes.
In this last session, we work on any last-minute concerns and run Barbara's speech several times, giving notes between each run. If she would like, she can even invite an audience for her final presentation.
Sergio is an experienced screenwriter working on a pitch about a zombie thriller he wants to target to agents and executives. He has a great project he's excited about, but no one has bitten yet.
In the assessment, Sergio reveals that he loves talking about his project, so much so that doesn't finish every sentence, and he skips around. Sergio also has a tendency to leave the audience behind with his references to other shows and dramatic devices.
Sergio needs help paring his ideas down into small sentences that pop with imagery, and both start and end strongly. Because this is a pitch to executives he needs a 30-second “elevator” version along with a longer 2-to-3-minute version. Sergio needs to be able to pitch this in a very personal “one on one” style and also be able to do it in a bigger room with a larger audience. We can probably get Sergio up to speed in three sessions.
“Paring Down Your Idea”
Here we will strip down Sergio's pitch to the barest essentials and list them as bullet points. We will then work each sentence to find the correct phrasing and transitions. We will also play with different audience sizes, in terms of his physical and verbal expression.
“What's Your Personal Connection?”
We want to make sure that Sergio shares a piece of himself as he shares his project. We will workshop some ideas and personal stories that connect him to the project. This will ground him and bring him closer to the audience.
“Looking for Images and Words That Pop”
Here we'll workshop some moments and images to work into the pitch that make the world of the script come alive.
In this part we'll examine contrasts in dynamics in speaking and moving, looking to make Sergio pop as much as his images do.
“Putting It All Together”
We will workshop both the 30-second and 3-minute versions several times with side coaching. In the last part of this session, we'll run both speeches several times with no stops. Sergio can invite a small audience to the final presentation, if he likes.
Arthur is an accounting specialist in his organization with over 15 years of experience. Because of recent changes in tax law, the organization will have to adjust how it reports and calculates certain expenses. Arthur has been assigned to give an office-wide training session to about 50 people. He has indicated that he has very little public speaking experience, and isn't that comfortable being the center of attention.
As we assess him, it quickly becomes obvious that Arthur knows his stuff. But his presentation is a little on the boring side. Even Arthur thinks it's boring! His words are clear, but his tone is monotonous. Also, he has arranged the material as a series of unconnected pieces of information.
Arthur needs a little help in structuring his material. He also needs some help coming out of his shell, so that when he speaks to the audience, it's more like he's telling his friends a story than presenting on tax law changes. Let's make a plan for five sessions.
“Build an Executive Summary”
First, let's work-up an introduction that gives the audience the context it needs. This will include: a little information about Arthur, what changes were enacted, why they were enacted, how the changes will affect the company, the risks of non-compliance, and what will be covered in the training.
Using the language of this summary, we will try some approaches to build Arthur's expressive toolkit. We work a range of vocal, physical, and emotional dynamics and see what feels comfortable. We'll also gently push some boundaries and see what we find.
Each teaching point Arthur needs to hit gets one sentence. Once we have identified each sentence, we will look for the best phrasing and examples. We will then work these phrases, again looking to widen Arthur's expressive toolkit.
Because this training involves changes to an existing practice, it should be easy to take the changes in the law and apply them to a hypothetical with which the audience is familiar. This application of the changes in law to a realistic situation may help the audience understand more easily.
Here, we'll look for some personal material for Arthur to use at the beginning of the session, meant to grab the audience from the get go.
“Q & A Rehearsal”
Since we are using some hypotheticals for Arthur's presentation and because the audience already has some familiarity with the topic, we'll look for ways for Arthur to draw-out the knowledge of his audience. This will help keep them interested.
“Putting it All Together”
This session is dedicated to running the entire presentation with stops and starts, as we make adjustments to language and style.
We run the presentation several times without stops, giving notes in between. Arthur can invite an audience for the final run, if he likes.