Word-of-mouth helps Confident Presenting

By Elaine O’Regan Sunday Business Post

Anthony Garvey is combining face-to-face training and online courses to help companies and individuals master the art of effective public speaking in scenarios ranging from job interviews and board presentations to sales pitches and wedding speeches.

A former head of public relations at the handheld computer company Psion plc, Garvey has been running his own marketing and public relations practice in Tralee, Co Kerry, since 2001.

It was after he was elected area director for Toastmasters, the voluntary public speaking organisation operating a network of clubs worldwide, that he spotted another business opportunity.

“I was mentoring speakers and it was incredibly rewarding to see them going from nervous to accomplished,” he said. “Through word-of-mouth, I began to get enquiries from companies like Kerry Group and Astellas asking me to do one-on-one sessions with their executives or train their management teams.”

Encouraged by the response, Garvey set up Confident Presenting last year and held his first presenting course over eight weeks.

“Many people dread speaking in public, but they have to be able to present as part of their jobs,” he said.

“If you’re going for an interview or have a top table role at a wedding, you’ll more than likely have to rise to your feet and address an audience. A lot of people wish they were able to manage their nerves and speak more effectively, so we have a ready market because it’s a skill that can be learnt.”

Garvey charges €995 for a one-day session offering corporate presentation and public speaking training to companies in Ireland and Britain. He has also used a trading online voucher from the Kerry Local Enterprise Office to develop an online course priced at €195, with a special introductory offer of €95 for early bookings made on using the coupon code launchdiscount.

“We offer tailored one-on-one classes to people who are giving a speech at a wedding or a function or who just want to manage their nerves and improve their public speaking skills,” he said.

“The price for one-to-one bookings depends on what you want, and companies that buy our one-day training course get our online presentation course for all employees for free. We’ve also developed a public speaking and presenting live course for primary students, which we’ve delivered to more than 30 schools in Munster. We’d like to roll that out nationwide,” he added.

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When I was 17 I worked for a week selling ice cream on a nudist beach in Andalucía in Spain.  On my final day I got talking to a woman from London.

She was looking to hire a marketing executive and as I stood on a steaming hot beach in my birthday suit, she interviewed me for my first job.

I was completely exposed. But I learned something important that day and it’s a lesson I’d like to pass on to you: baring it all isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I want to challenge you to deliver your next presentation….naked!

Does the thought of that make you nervous?

If so, let me offer you some words of reassurance.

When I started presenting naked I was worried how people might react, but they were great – enthusiastic even – and now I present naked all the time.

And it’s not just me.  Everyone I have encouraged to step away from the podium and present au naturel has done so to gasps of admiration from an engaged and appreciative audience.

Of course I’m talking about presenting or speaking without slides or notes (not without clothes).

You’d never be allowed back into a conference room in the country otherwise, right?

When I mean naked, I mean stripping away even those tiny cue cards nervous bridegrooms or jubilant Oscar winners carry in their jacket pockets, so that all the audience is focused on is you.

Why present naked?

Connecting with your audience is one reason.

If you’re sticking closely to a script, fumbling for the next cue card, or wondering which slide or bullet point comes next, you’re not connecting.

You’re also unlikely to be fully tuned in so you can adjust or adapt your material, to involve and interact.

You’ll come across as far more professional. It exudes confidence and builds trust and because your presentation is unscripted, it makes it more personal.

You can see if your audience is beginning to lose or gain interest in a particular section, allowing you to make the necessary adjustments as you speak.

And if you really want to create slides, instead of using them during your presentation, send them the following day to the attendees as a way of adding value to the relationships you have built.

How to do it in 3 easy steps

Follow this simple three point plan:

  1. Distill your presentation to single word points.

    For your next presentation, jot down the ideas you want to communicate onto a single sheet of paper.Then distill each section in your presentation down into a single word.For example, if you were delivering a talk on how to create a compelling marketing plan, you might write down words on your cue card such as:
  • Research
  • Customers
  • Pricing
  • Distribution
  • Competitors
  • Budget
  • Evaluation

Bring your cue card with you to your presentation.

2. Practice with the single words.Once you have your cue card with your ‘one-word’ sections you need to prepare and practice.

Work on each of the sections so you can talk knowledgeably and coherently and time yourself for each section.

3. Rip up your notes. On the day of the presentation, take one last look at the cue card before you step onto the stage and rip it in two!

A surge of adrenalin will race through your body, but remind yourself, you are ready.

When I presented naked for the first time in a corporate setting, it was a 3-hour session in front of a small audience of 30 business people.

I met as many of them as I could beforehand so I could look for the friendly faces in the audience as I spoke.

Before I went on stage, like I have suggested for you, I tore up the single cue card I had been carrying as a crutch in my pocket.

To paraphrase Christopher Logue, I came to the edge, jumped and found I could fly.

I have helped hundreds of business executives, from middle management to boardroom level, to present naked and for them, it has been a tremendously empowering experience.  Remember you still need to put in the work – practice is key – but once you go naked, you will never go back.

And as for my interview in Spain on the nudist beach as a 17-year old, you’ll be pleased to hear, the lady from London called a week later telling me I had got the job.  (I also got an impressive tan to boot!)

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