bernie shakeshaft

Success Story: Bernie Shakeshaft and Backtrack Youthworks

During his 25 years of youth work, Bernie Shakeshaft’s unrelenting desire has been to show the community that the young people they consider most marginalised or ‘difficult’ have skills, aspirations and they want to feel a sense of belonging just like us. In 2006 Bernie founded BackTrack Youthworks and has been delivering life changing outcomes for young people ever since. BackTrack pushes the boundaries on how to work along side young people in this generation and redefines what is possible for them. BackTrack uses a unique process of engagement and connection. Bernie believes that when you change the life outcomes for these youth you improve the overall quality of community life too.

What did Bernie say after attending Michelle’s Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass?

“Michelle, I now have the skills you taught me down pat and I hand them onto the kids. We practice public speaking and they often joke about pacing – leading and the body language that goes with presenting.”

What kind of presenting do you do at work?

  1. Presenting on a daily basis at BackTrack Youth Works is just one area where I use presentation skills. In this setting I am talking with groups of “at risk” young people so I use a casual style to get the message across. I’m aiming specifically at the target group so I maximise engagement, interest and desired outcomes.
  2. As well as presenting to these young people, I have presented at parliament house for the PM, and I always use Michelle’s techniques.
  3. I present at our Board and AGM meetings with some of our big players such as Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation. I’m excited that I’ve set our organisation and the way forward for multiple programs into the future.
  4. I’ve also not long returned from a Churchill Fellowship where I followed Michelle’s 13 steps to make it through the interview process under what can only be considered extreme pressure, and I got it!!!!! I also speak at private school functions, government forums and we recently won the best youth organisation in NSW.

What prompted you to attend Michelle’s Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass?

The deciding factor to get me over the line and into the course was as simple as this, “if you keep on doing what you’re doing in presentations – you’re going to keep on getting what you’re getting in presentations”. What I was getting was just not up to scratch. It was time to take a risk. That said, thank God I took the risk!!! The difference is extraordinary……….

How did Michelle’s masterclass change your attitude to presenting in business?

There is a saying, ‘Attitude is Everything’. Having a well planned, thorough and clear system for delivering a message has made a world of difference to me and my audiences. Being prepared, confident and well rehearsed are the fundamental changes to my attitude.

In general, what positive outcomes have you achieved from improving your presentation skills?

  1. While the positive outcomes I’ve achieved are in the early stages, the difference is still mind- shattering.
  2. Rather than avoiding opportunities to present I am now looking for every chance.
  3. My level of confidence has improved beyond comprehension and it has really been noticed by many people who had heard me present on previous occasions.
  4. Michelle’s masterclass made me realise that I have rarely had a “call to action”. Makes me wonder just what it was I was trying to get across – bet a lot of people listening used to wonder the same thing! Not any more….

In what specific ways have your presentation skills improved since completing Michelle’s training?

  1. Having a structure to my presentations that I can remember would be one of the most valuable tools that I have taken from Michelle’s masterclass.
  2. And guess what? The flow on from being able to remember the structure is where it gets really interesting.
  3. You see, gaining personal confidence was a big hill for me to climb and so learning how to give direct, connected eye contact, projecting my voice, and focusing on my audience instead of always focusing on myself have had an immediate impact on my delivery.
  4. And you know what else? What used to take me hours in preparation time has dissolved into less than half an hour from start to finish– think of the extra time I now have to practice my delivery – oh that’s another thing – now I practice.

What were your top three take aways from Michelle’s masterclass?

  1. Have a call to action. Or don’t bother even starting.
  2. Preparation – 3 weeks before presentation.
  3. 13 steps – follow them all….in that order.

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