Marc presented like a typical manager at his global software company. As the knowing expert, he gave detailed “what” answers while audiences wondered about the “why.” Among friends, he was an entertainer who kept everyone laughing with great stories, but when he tried to integrate some humor into his presentations, his punchlines drew only blank stares. So he stuck to the norm, and concentrated on clearly presenting the content on each slide.
Yet, Marc knew he could get better results. He reached out to me from his office in Europe. We began meeting over video calls to prepare for a big presentation at an upcoming summit. I recommended that he reconsider his approach. “You’re not on trial before a congressional committee,” I reminded him. “You’re allowed to express how you feel.” In fact, I encouraged him to tell stories, and tell them the way he would share with close friends: Which stories did he enjoy telling? Which details naturally lifted his energy?
When Marc felt comfortable sharing as himself, I challenged him to a major change: He had to eliminate all bullet points from his slides. As he learned to work from a engaging headline, data points filtered away while his primary messages remained buoyant. Then I instructed him to practice like he would perform, sans slides. The sound of his own voice guided him–when to slow down, when to speed up, when to pause.
On the day of the summit, Marc stood before a hundred European engineering leaders and delivered an amazing performance. On stage, he was more than a typical manager: he was the face of innovation that resonated with a captivated audience. No longer caught in the “what,” no longer wondering “why,” his audience now asked, “what’s next?”