Success Story – David Meharg

David Meharg has held operational, management and strategic positions within the NSW public health service for fifteen years. David manages Primary & Community Health Services at Orange where he works with a dedicated team of health professionals delivering clinical initiatives.  David is passionate about Aboriginal Health, particularly improving models of care that increase access and utilisation of services for his community.

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

“Michelle was engaging, which created a nice environment to learn about how to become a more persuasive presenter. I loved the sound framework (13 steps) that I can use back at work.”

What is the Aboriginal Population Health Training Program?

Established in 2011, the Aboriginal Population Health Training Program (APHTI) aims to build the Aboriginal population health workforce in NSW to help close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes. It also aims to ensure that future population health programs are more culturally appropriate and safe for Aboriginal communities, as well as being inclusive of the needs of Aboriginal people.

The APHTI is delivered through partnerships between the NSW Ministry of Health and Local Health Districts. It is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have an undergraduate degree and an interest in population health. Trainees are employed for a period of 3 years, during which time they undertake a range of work placements designed to provide a broad exposure to population health practice. Concurrently, they study a Master of Public Health at a university of their choice within NSW. The trainees receive regular training, networking and professional development opportunities as they progress through the competency-based work placements.

What kind of presenting do you do at work?

During my career the kind of presenting I do has changed dramatically. I initially began presenting to the Aboriginal community regarding the prevention, treatment and management of sexually transmitted infections about ten years ago. This type of presenting required a unique non-judgemental and engaging approach. I now mostly present in a formal capacity as part of the hospital executive team or to my own team of health managers and health professionals. Like most managers, I also frequently present informally at team meetings where I am attempting to engage staff in open dialogue about our services and products, or exploring opportunities to change or close service gaps.

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

I attended Michelle’s masterclass as part of the Aboriginal Population Health Training Initiative. It was a great opportunity attending with my entire trainee cohort as it consolidated team relationships. This program is a NSW Health initiative aimed at developing future population health leaders. Considering the program’s aim, it was realised presentation skills are an essential skill to effectively and confidently communicate and influence the decisions of others and support us to transition into leadership. I have also been self-conscious about my presentation capability. My presentations were always delivered too quickly and covered too much information. When I heard about the opportunity to complete Michelle’s masterclass, I jumped at the chance to take my skills to the next level.

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

Before working with Michelle, I honestly hated having to present to a group. One-on-one was not a problem for me, but if I had to present to a group, goodness throw me a life jacket…. I got so nervous!

I would often struggle preparing my presentation, wondering how best to tell my story and what I needed to leave out. I ended up spending hours writing and re-writing a ten minute presentation, trying to cram everything possible into the presentation in an attempt to make it comprehensive and interesting. What I did not realise that it was over-loaded with information and was delivered so quickly that my audience could not digest the information and became disengaged.

Michelle’s masterclass gave me what I needed – direction, structure and useful tips to guide me from start to finish. I was relieved to be able to follow a step by step process, which allowed me to finally deliver a great presentation with confidence, clarity and at an appropriate pace for my audience.

Overall, it changed my attitude about how valuable presenting is in business and leadership. It also changed my attitude and belief about myself and my own skill and ability to communicate effectively.

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

Since attending the masterclass, I’ve had the opportunity to present at several large and important events. I seriously doubt I would have been given these opportunities had I not attended Michelle’s training.

I have also received positive feedback about how my skills have dramatically improved from my skills from my colleagues. This positive feedback has been very encouraging. What has been even more important than receiving external praise, has been how I feel about myself when I present – such a huge change internally.

Michelle’s masterclass was so good that I have often revisited my folder, video and book over the years to refresh the skills I learnt. You know when a program has been worthwhile, because you continually use the new skills and go back to the training material – it has been my little secret weapon!

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

I am more relaxed, prepared and influential when I present which means I communicate more professionally and have a clearer purpose and structure. This improvement has allowed me to take my audience on a journey with me and convince them to take a specific course of action.

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

Only three?

  1. They would have to be the importance of pace, pace, pace, lead. I use this approach in meetings and almost all of my contact with staff. This approach has made a significant difference in obtaining staff engagement and support.
  2. The other is to “Love your guts” and “Extend yourself”. You need to remember to treat yourself with kindness and include and connect with the audience.

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