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Media and Presentation Training: Philosophy and Experience

Research has shown, and I believe it is true, that humans are hardwired to convey and accept information in the form of stories. Whether you are gathered around an overhead projector or a campfire, good stories and the knowledge and excitement they convey are always waiting to be told. Sometimes it just takes a good coach to uncover them.

When I do media and presentation training, I draw upon my experiences from several areas. I've been giving presentations since I was in seventh grade when I won the trophy for best humorous interpretation of a story in a citywide tournament.

  • Stand-up comedy. Since 1986 I've performed at clubs such as The Punchline, Catch A Rising Star and the Holy City Zoo in San Francisco. I learned to write funny stories and tell them in the spotlight. I teach some of the same skills to my clients.
  • High-technology public relations. My 15 years of experience helps me teach others how to craft information into a story for the media that is well-positioned relative to other technologies, and how to catch the interest of specific editors and publications.
  • Improvisational theater. From this area I learned how to teach narrative skills and how to help people deal with fear of failure.
  • Storytelling. Following the tenets of storytelling helps me teach others to uncover the brilliant stories within material that appears technical or boring.

While consulting for one client, Tektronix, I trained a presenter who knew the content of his presentation, but was having trouble engaging listeners. As I asked him a series of questions about the presentation, it became clear that he was having trouble shifting gears from the role of product manager to media spokesperson. I asked him to tell me some stories about the users of the product.

"I can't. All the really cool users are classified!" he said. After a bit more digging it turned out the high-energy plasma physics group at Yale was also using the product.

"And how are they using it?" I asked.

He started giving a detailed technical answer.

"Think bigger picture," I probed.

"They are using the product to unlock the secrets of the universe."

That sounded pretty big picture to me.

Following our session he went on the road with his presentation to the press. One editor later told the president of Tektronix that my client's presentation was the best he had ever seen from a vendor in this area and the best he had seen from Tektronix in years.

-- Steve Begley, President

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