27 Apr Success Story: Carolyn Shaw

Carolyn’s awesome trademark is, ‘Know It, Grow It’. As a Talent Development and Organisational Change Leader, she works with multi-nationals, not-for-profits, private colleges and individuals to design and deliver programs that build capability, improve performance and strengthen engagement. In March 2017, Carolyn was an honoured recipient of an International Women’s Day Award for Leadership in Education and Training.

What kind of presenting do you do at work?

I present every day, in many forms through my multi-disciplined profession. A typical week can include pitching a business case, selling an idea, running a training course, delivering a speech, chairing a meeting, presenting a webinar, facilitating network events, and emceeing a conference.

What prompted you to study with Michelle? 

Full disclosure… I am a multiple times convincer that looks for tangible return on investment. So when I set out to engage a high quality presentation skills program that would deliver transformational change… I did a bucket of research.

Michelle was highly recommended through industry network contacts. Taking a deeper dive on the Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass, it was evident you come away equipped with practical steps, models, and techniques to craft a message that will engage and influence, and deliver with impact through purposeful stagecraft techniques.

The program exceeded my expectations. Michelle’s expertise is unmistakable in her exceptional instructional design, her knowledge of neuroscience, solid program content, and first rate skills as a highly engaging trainer. What’s more, the additional resources that Michelle gifts and the How to Present book are solid reinforcement and great tools to refresh any aspect of the training.

As such I continue to recommend Michelle’s masterclass to other industry networks and I engage Michelle in organisations for in-house presentation skills programs annually.

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

Michelle’s program reinforces a critical point that we too often underestimate – that every time we communicate is a presentation, whether written, in person, or virtual. Michelle’s 13-steps can be applied to every communication situation to ensure we have an impactful connection with our audience, whether writing in internal memo, chairing a meeting, or delivering a webinar.

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

Confidence grows through experience. I know each time I present, I will be stronger than the presentation before. Practice makes progress. As my capability grows, so does my self-assurance, and so do the opportunities that cross my path. You never know where taking these opportunities can lead you… receiving an International Women’s Day Award!

In what specific ways have your presentation skills improved since learning with Michelle?

Broadly speaking (pardon the pun!):

  • more efficient preparation techniques that knock out procrastination
  • connection techniques that result in a deeper engagement with audience
  • strategies to overcome disruptive nerves
  • increased rate of success when pitching business cases from applying the 13-steps and pacing out objections early
  • improved effectiveness in training sessions integrating all learning modalities to engage entire audience

A specific example of outcomes is comparing presentations I gave at an annual Toastmasters Conference earlier this year, with the year before. Within one year, I went from delivering a 7-minute presentation with audible nerves and limited stage craft… to a year later confidently emceeing the entire full-day conference and owning the stage. I received a lot of positive and personalised feedback, which to me confirmed I had really connected with audience members. What’s more, from that event I was thrilled to receive requests to chair an upcoming network group launch meeting, emcee a business opening day, and speak at a speech festival.

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

Connection – This past year I have been very focused on mastering the whites of the eyes eye contact, or as Michelle calls it, ‘the click’ to build deeper rapport and connect individually with every audience member. This was one focal point when emceeing a conference last month. You have such short sound bites between speakers. It was a great challenge to set a goal to connect and ‘click’ with everyone in the 120+ audience before the day was out.

Audience Analysis – First impressions are lasting. I recall late last year being put on the spot to give an impromptu self-introduction to a large audience. Immediately I ran through Michelle’s model to analyse the audience, Think-Feel-Do, and put my thoughts together on the fly to build credibility and rapport in an unrehearsed presentation to connect with a new team members with whom I would be working on a major project.

Stage Craft – There are so many key take-aways, and I have to share how Michelle was with me in spirit earlier this year when I was accepting an award on stage with several other recipients. Revisiting the photos of the ceremony, the ingrained stagecraft tactics were evident. I was one of the only finalists holding a centred stance and not doing a Fig Leaf Posture! Thanks Michelle!!

  • The Fig Leaf Posture is where the presenter holds their hands over their crotch. This is not a desirable stance because it draws your audience’s eyes away from your eyes (connection) and directs their gaze to the one part of your body that you’d generally rather they were not looking at when you are presenting!