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Success Story – Nick Exikanas

Nick Exikanas is a Global Category Manager at Breville.  He pours three core beliefs into his work to develop global category success stories for Breville:

– that cooking offers each of us a chance to be creative every day

– that the enjoyment of food brings all people together and 

– that insight-driven category innovation can breathe new life into time-honoured cooking techniques.


Here is what Nick said after attending Michelle’s Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass on zoom in July 2021:


“Michelle comes from a position of rich experience to share valuable knowledge and practical skills that carry significant weight have and will continue to make a difference in my daily dealings with colleagues as well as when presenting. She also addresses the needs of a diverse audience to ensure her messages resonate widely. I’m thankful for having this time to learn from Michelle. I would recommend the course to anyone, not just those in business or who need to present.”

Nick Exikanas, Global Category Manager, Breville

What kind of presentation do you do at work?

In my role I present live using a mix of digital media to share distilled, consumer insights to engineers, product roadmaps to regional sales teams, business cases to the executive team, and everything in between. My aim is always to journey through a meaningful story rather than rattle off a list of points, ideally smashing through a few blindly held norms to provoke thought along the way. If I’m honest, part of me enjoys poking the audience in the eye, figuratively speaking and constructively of course, and of course only when the situation calls for it!


What prompted you to study with Michelle?

Michelle Bowden is a master at her craft and if I can gain a fraction of Michelle’s presentation knowledge to help me be more compelling in my role it will have been worthwhile. My focus on telling stories through data and insights is one thing but crafting that story more efficiently and compellingly with each new presentation is a cyclical challenge I’m looking to conquer. As I progress through my career I find myself presenting to larger and/or more demanding audiences, and this comes with a certain amount of nervousness or anxiety that I didn’t always successfully mask, let alone think I could overcome.


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

Michelle used effective coaching techniques to stretch me beyond my comfort zone while creating a safe space to practice and learn. Michelle also shared practical frameworks I’ve used ever since our masterclass to hone my presentations. Both of these factors helped me grow my confidence in delivering presentations that achieve my intended outcomes.


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

Since putting Michelle’s teachings into practice I have increased my success passing core projects through our gate-based development process and have also secured incremental funding for a strategically adjacent innovation opportunity within my category. As a result, my team and I have increased our exposure across the business, shaping positive perceptions of our category ambitions and personal abilities which, in turn, is helping secure greater support and trust from management on key projects.


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

Using Michelle’s frameworks  has streamlined my effort to construct presentations, allowing me more time to prepare and refine their delivery. I can better tailor my presentation style to the audience and land key messages more successfully, including identifying the best flow of information to aid understanding. I am also better equipped to negate potential sources of contention in my project presentations. This has reduced tangent conversations with my audience and ensures I keep their focus on my intended outcomes. This in turn has expedited progress on key projects.


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

  • The Persuasion Blueprint
  • Online/virtual presentation techniques for a post-covid, remote-workplace world
  • When presenting live, build a bubble around your audience, then throw yourself into that bubble!

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