Breakthrough

Presenting with Passion course.

The participants are 14 young people from all around the world, on their Graduate Training programme. Working with a multinational group is interesting. Half the group do not have English as their first language, although all have an acceptable level as English is the working language of the business. I have to remember to speak more slowly and clearly than my usual rather excited gabble. When we play the “2-object story” game, and someone calls out “smoking”, I am the last person in the room to realise this is not the smelly activity, but the word in several European languages for gents formal attire!

Great to see a few breakthroughs. Most notably a young lad of Oriental origin who confessed to a loathing of speaking in public, and great anxiety at the thought of it. His presentation exercises are at first dull and lifeless, as he hides himself behind a screen of fear. He makes little audience contact, his focus is mostly internal as he tries to remember what he is saying next. I encourage him to look into the eyes of each audience member, but to no avail. His eye contact is a superficial sweep – he is still preoccupied with himself. His piece is a story about a failure of communication in a design process, that cost the company a lot of money. I ask him what is for me always the key question – “what do you want the audience to feel?” He says anger and frustration. I ask him to let us see the anger and frustration he himself feels. Transformation! His next attempt starts quietly and again hesitant, but gradually a stream a frustration starts flowing from him. He stands straighter, he looks directly as us, we are swept along with the emotion of his story. It’s like a whole new person has appeared before us. Afterwards, everyone congratulates him, and a glimmer of understanding appears in his eyes. When I ask him how he feels now, a slight smile passes his lips. “Good”, he says.

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