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Persuasive Presenter Prep

1. Joe Kowan: How I beat stage fright

Humanity’s fine-tuned sense of fear served us well as a young species, giving us laser focus to avoid being eaten by competing beasts. But it’s less wonderful when that same visceral, body-hijacking sense of fear kicks in in front of 20 folk-music fans at a Tuesday night open-mic. Palms sweat, hands shake, vision blurs, and the brain says RUN: it’s stage fright. In this charming, tuneful little talk, Joe Kowan talks about how he conquered it.
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How effectively does Joe Kowan:
1- Use self-deprecating humour to engage his audience?
2- Tell stories to make key points?
3- Use examples, analogies or metaphors that his audience can relate to?
4- Appeal to emotion to make his points?
5- Turn his ‘impediment’ around?
6- Earn your support?

Identify one technique that you can incorporate into your own presentations

2. Dan Barber – How I fell in love with a fish

Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. He compares two models, the old agricultural model and the ecological model.
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How effectively does Dan Barber:
1- Use stories to introduce, support, illustrate key points?
2- Use the rule of binary opposites to make key points?
3- Use examples, analogies or metaphors that his audience can relate to?
4- Use catchy and memorable one-sentence statements?
5- Appeal to logic and emotion to make his points?
6- Use deadpan humour to engage his audience and make key points?
5- Other observations?

Identify one technique that you can incorporate into your own presentations

3. Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great leaders, teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.

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Think about it within the context of storytelling

1- How does Margaret use stories to illustrate her key point?
2- What do you notice about the structure of her stories?
3- How does Margaret use her story to introduce her main thesis?
4- How effectively does Margaret introduce a 2nd story to support her thesis?

We will be analyzing Heffernan’s “Joe” story in greater detail during the program.

Identify at least one technique you can incorporate into your own style

4. Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.

Think about it
1- How does Cheryl Sandberg begin her talk?
2- How effective is Cheryl Sandberg’s story in the opening?
3- Cheryl Sandberg tells three stories in the body of her talk. Are they effective?
4- What are your thoughts around her three key points? Catchy? Memorable? Actionable?
5- What are your thoughts around her conclusion? Effective? Too short? Something missing?
6- If you were to coach Cheryl Sandberg on her talk, what would you say she does well? What can she do more of . . .?

5. Chris Hadfield – What I learned from going blind in space

There’s an astronaut saying: In space, “there is no problem so bad that you can’t make it worse.” So how do you deal with the complexity, the sheer pressure, of dealing with dangerous and scary situations? Retired colonel Chris Hadfield paints a vivid portrait of how to be prepared for the worst in space (and life) — and it starts with walking into a spider’s web.

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Think about it
A- How does Chris Hadfield begin his presentation? Is it effective or not effective?

B- We will be analysing the following questions in greater depth during the program
1- Note the way Chris Hadfield gets attention – look at his opening question? Effective?
2- Note the way Chris Hadfield explains what he has just said – your thoughts?
3- Note the structure of his key story – your thoughts?

C- What are your thoughts on Chris Hadfield’s:
1- Use of slides?
2- Use of the spider example and analogy for overcoming fear?
3- Movement and body language?
4- Conclusion – effective or not effective?

D- What ideas can you glean from Hadfield’s presentation and integrate into your presentations?

6. Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

Amy Cuddy wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree.

But she proved them wrong. Today, Cuddy is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, where she studies how nonverbal behavior and snap judgments affect people from the classroom to the boardroom. And her training as a classical dancer (another skill she regained after her injury) is evident in her fascinating work on “power posing” — how your body position influences others and even your own brain.

If you experience difficulty viewing this video, here is the video on

Think about it
1- Who is the other audience that is influenced by our non-verbals?
2- Amy Cuddy says, “It’s not about the content of the speech. It’s about their —?— that they’re bringing to the speech.”
What is Amy Cuddy referring to that is so important?
3- Talking about defeating the imposter syndrome, Cuddy recalls a personal story and says, “I realized that she had not just faked it till she made it,
she had actually faked it till she —?— it.”
What is Amy Cuddy referring to that is so critical?

Identify at least one idea that you can incorporate into your speaking strategy


Although the following speech by Michelle Obama is not part of the pre-work, it is a very powerful and engaging speech.

Michelle Obama’s Speech On Moral Courage

Think about it
1- How would you describe Obama’s speech in terms of authenticity?
2- How would you describe her moral authority and passion?
3- How impactful is her opening story?
4- What is her most persuasive punchline? Hint – it’s about strong men . . .
5- What is her tagline?
6- What is her call to action?
7- What parts of her speech impressed you the most and why?

Showing up to give – Simon Sinek

Think about it
1- What do you think about Sinek’s mantra, “I show up to give?”
2- Sinek mentions he can’t do his Start with why talk anymore. Why?
3- He mentions his talks are not memorized. How does he remain focused on his topic?
4- How does Sinek improve his talks?

The Persuasive Presenter Quiz

Once you have watched the videos and completed the reading that was sent to you, please do the
Persuasive Presenter Quiz

I look forward to meeting you on the program.
~Dene Rossouw

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