A blog post on Barry Inc. training.
One of the biggest challenges we have as digital marketers is communicating. The work that we do is technical, the platforms where we deploy our tactics are complex, and the data that we collect can be overwhelming upon first glance. Learning how to communicate in the digital space is the key to our success – it allows us to collaborate with and show value to our clients, it helps to build our credibility in the marketing industry, and it ultimately helps us to celebrate the amazing work we do each day because the people around us can understand and appreciate it.
Recognizing the importance of effective communication, DAC Group recently invested in communication training with Barry Snetsinger of Barry Inc. to deliver a two day workshop to a group of employees who are most likely to be involved in business presentations. The mix of participants included Manager and Director-level staff from all departments including Account Services, Business Development, Paid and Organic Search, Operations, and Human Resources.
If at this point you’re feeling fidgety thinking about corporate training and the often long and boring hours where you get lost thinking about how little you’re learning, how cheesy the exercises are, and how many emails you must be missing during this torture that your company has forced you into…stop right there. Barry Inc. training is anything but that; this training is the exact opposite of any awful corporate training experience you’ve had. From the moment the training started and Barry started speaking, I knew this was going to be different.
For starters, there was homework. There was homework before we even started the training. Barry required that participants form small groups and develop a short 5-10 minute presentation on any topic of their choice. So on Day 1, after the introductions, agenda and housekeeping formalities were out of the way, each group had to dive right in to give their presentations in front of their colleagues, who were instructed to deliver one piece of positive and one piece of constructive feedback following their performance.
From that point on, those presentations would serve as our reference points. As Barry went on to teach us the way to make presentations interesting, entertaining and inspiring, we could all think back to this exercise we had just gone through and immediately understand how to apply our learnings. And in his training booklet, Barry asked us to “look at a presentation, not as a presentation, but rather as an exercise in engaging people rationally and emotionally.” His point was that presentations aren’t just a chore where we dump information onto PowerPoint slides; we need to understand the human side of it.
Without giving away too much of the secret sauce, the key areas that Barry focused on, or what he referred to as the “Workshop Highlights,” included Prepare, Structure, Visualize, Tailor and Perform.
Barry revealed an overall approach on how to plan the message or the key takeaway, organize the information we want to convey and deliver the presentation with confidence. He offered a great checklist that we could use each and every time we developed a high-stakes presentation. This included:
- Audience Analysis
- Goals & Objectives
- Build your case
- Structure & Story
- Create the visuals
- Edit it
- Rehearse it
- Perform It
- Review It
For me, this was one of the most valuable areas of Barry’s training. I’ve been in sales and account management roles my entire career so I have a wealth of experience in giving high-stakes presentations. But that doesn’t always mean that my presentations have been effective or successful. I recognized the need to understand how to properly structure a presentation and this was the specific goal or area I wanted to improve through Barry’s training. In the past, I would just structure a PowerPoint presentation based on topics but there wasn’t a strategic plan as to what message I wanted to get across. The overview of how to properly structure a presentation included:
- Opening Remarks & Subject
- Body – Context, Concept, Form
It’s likely impossible that you’ll see or give any high-stakes presentation that doesn’t involve visuals. And the visual component is usually done through PowerPoint. Ahhh, PowerPoint – you either love it or loathe it. Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s important you do it right. Luckily Barry gave us an easy checklist to follow when putting together our visuals:
- See & Say — the content on your slides should align with the words you are saying. The words you are saying should align with the content on your slides. Boom, it’s that easy.
- Don’t mix themes/ideas — remember when we talked about structure? Stick to your plan and keep different topics or points separate.
- 5×5 & 50% ‘rules’ — this has to do with the content that you show you on your slides. As a general rule, don’t have more than 5 bullets and keep each bullet around 5 words. The end result should be 50% of your page as content or visuals and 50% as “white space”.
- Font & Wording — be consistent. Duh.
- Animation – Build — this is basically where you get to control your audience’s minds. Use the animation tool to build to your point. This allows your audience to focus on one point at a time rather than overwhelming them with one static page of content and their brains get confused on where to look and when.
- Circle Underline Hi-lite — still interested in mind control? These easy little tricks can help your audience focus on the areas you want them to.
- Format & Colour — again, be consistent.
Second to learning about presentation structure, I found this section extremely valuable. Here we learned about audiences and how important it is to identify and understand the different personality types in the room. Barry taught us the various characteristics, motivations and learning styles of four different personality types. He also explained the best way to tailor a presentation based on who the key decision makers and influencers are. The four personality types included:
- Expressive (give options, explain the bigger picture, get them involved, provide energy and enthusiasm)
- Amiable (build rapport before presenting options, include discussion, emphasize people)
- Driver (present only 1-2 options, minimize context, allow Q&A throughout the presentation, emphasize outcomes, be direct and formal)
- Analytical (provide many options, give detailed context, keep Q&A until the end, emphasize details, be precise and accurate)
In Shakespeare’s As You Like It, there was a famous phrase “all the world’s a stage,” and it compares the world to a stage and life to play. Giving a presentation really isn’t any different – when you get up to give a presentation, you are on stage and you’re playing a game where you want to win the audience over to your way of thinking. If you follow all the tips in this blog but you fall short on performing your presentation, you will have wasted the opportunity to be a master storyteller. Performing is easy, here’s the last of
- Movement – move with purpose. Use your body and hands to communicate.
- Confidence – use eye contact to connect with your audience and exude how confident you are in what you’re saying
- Dress – always go one level up. This is a special event, treat it that way.
- Language – use language that builds your credibility, bro.
- Voice – your voice can be a powerful tool. Use it to engage your audience.
- Gestures – these help to add energy to your overall message and keep your audience entertained
While I’ve been happy to share all of the amazing tips and tricks I learned in the two day workshop with Barry Inc., I must confess that participating in this training first-hand was much better. The way in which he expanded on each of these concepts and explained how to effectively communicate and deliver presentations was some of the best training I have received in my career. I’m excited to put these new skills to work and develop presentation tools that will contribute to DAC’s overall service offering. I know that our clients and prospective partners will benefit from it as well. While digital marketing is already growing rapidly, our ability to communicate effectively in this complex space will allow us to truly reign supreme.