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If you are not a natural presenter, just be yourself…

Recently I was working in an insurance company and one of the top directors was an Actuary. I don’t know if you know many actuary jokes, but most centre on them not being great communicators. Typically,

“How do you tell an extrovert actuary? He is looking at YOUR shoes!”

This gentleman was presenting the company strategy and direction to a group of 180 staff. He had his powerpoint presentation, but was honest enough to say at the start that the last time he presented he got some feedback. It was simply to be yourself and just talk to us.

So he did. He simply sat in a chair at the front of the group, put down his papers and started talking about the company, the environment, the financial situation, solvency, pressures, take-overs and the future. It was as if he was chatting across the dinner table.

What was delightful about this was that he was being himself. he was talking to friends and telling things as he saw it. It wasn’t a “Professional” presentation in the sense of well prepared, slick, big messages, but it was far better than that. After 20 minute “conversation” he decided to wrap up by running through the slides he had prepared (or had had prepared). He did these in 10 minutes, skipping over the “say nothing” slides and only picking up the salient points that he may have missed from the slides that had graphs, figures and real content.

It was an object lesson in conversational presentation. He treated the audience as peers and colleagues and allowed then to ask him questions in the same way.

Most importantly you knew he was telling the whole story as he saw it in an honest and open way. I think he communicated the strategy as well as any I have seen. A lesson in congruence, integrity and openness when communicating the strategy.

Phil Jones
Author, Communicating Strategy