Posts Tagged ‘Presentation Skills’

Sick of Speaking

Sick of Speaking: PowerPoint Training Turns Terrible


Senior EVP and presentation trainer exchange Flu Virus during coaching

Sick of Speaking

Call it coincidence.  My Thursday afternoon appointment with Dr. Wong had been on my calendar for months.  Just a routine checkup the young physician liked me to have…as a requirement to renewing my asthma inhalers.  Now I’d conveniently have him quickly restore my voice, now barely a loud whisper following two days of focused presentation coaching and training.  

So when the good doctor told me that I had The Flu, I could barely believe it.  He counseled me, reassuring me the Tamiflu he was prescribing would be helpful since we caught it early.  I went home and proceeded to descend into two of my grimmest weeks, as the virus tightened its grip.  But not before I picked up the phone to call my client with a message of warning and concern over this surprising and grim news.

My most prominent client to-date

Kevin & GE Executives at TrainingTwo days earlier, I had been coaching and collaborating with a Senior Vice President of General Electric Healthcare.  He and his senior business analyst colleague, a charming younger woman in her 30s had traveled from Chicago to my Washington DC-area office on a mission to improve their presentations.  He was the most prominent executive I had ever worked with; finding time on his busy schedule took weeks of planning and scheduling.  

We greeted each other on Tuesday morning with a warm and gracious welcome, toured our office, chatted about the weather, and then settled in the conference room to get started on creating magnificent PowerPoint slides.  I shared ideas and strategies on how to improve their charts, create focused headlines, and working more effectively with Master Slides for greater efficiency.  They ate it up.

The VP emanated brilliance; his questions were targeted and relevant.  As we all worked, he multitasked, responding to emails and texts, yet maintaining a sharp focus on our training.  

The obvious warning

We should have seen it coming.  Or at least he should have; he himself was an esteemed medical doctor.  By the middle of our first day of training, my voice was turning hoarse.  I struggled increasingly for my small audience to hear my words of presentation wisdom.  

They both commented on the immense value and depth of information.  And we all mentioned on how we felt tired.  The older man and I also mentioned that we felt warm; we were both starting to break a sweat.  By 5pm, my voice was almost gone.  I rattled out how great they were doing, and we broke for the day with a satisfied sense of accomplishment.

I returned home for a silent evening of sipping hot tea and honey.  Simple laryngitis, I thought.

The second day we returned. More in-depth presentation training, collaborative PowerPoint design and coaching.  They commented how this will transform the way GE does its presentations.  My typical high-energy style was more subdued.  The woman commented how we both looked pale.  The older man listened and worked, with an increased level sneezing and wheezing.  My voice was softening and I struggled to stay professional and focused.  The man and I joked that we’re “getting sick of this!” as our energy steadily diminished.  

The woman, later priding herself on her daily intake of vitamins and health elixirs, just sat on the sidelines watching us slowly slide into sickness.  

By the middle of Day-Two my voice had all but disappeared.  I shared a few more techniques, and then encouraged my two clients to apply the techniques to improve their PowerPoint presentations, as I acted as a mute one-on-one coach.  By noon, their presentations looked amazing.  Feeling tired and filled with valuable information, we all decided to wrap-up early.  They caught their flight back to Chicago, and I made the short drive back home.  

It’s hard to conduct business and training without a voice.  So I fell asleep early, around 7pm, confident my doctor would cure my laryntitis in the morning.

Worse than I thought

Doctor delivering news of fluThe next morning, I whispered my story to Dr. Wong.  “I fried my vocal chords from two days of speaking!”  

The doctor suggested I take a Flu Test.  I scoffed.  But I willingly complied, as he gagged me with a half-foot skinny swab down my throat.  

While I waited for my results, my phone chimed with an email from my younger GE client, thanking me for the great training, and sharing how her presentations are already looking better.

Doctor Wong returned.  “I have some bad news,” the doctor shared. “You have The Flu.”

Where or how I got this nasty bug it isn’t clear.  I can blame the GE guy.  He can blame me.  I feel I did a good deed by warning them of my diagnosis and encouraging them to seek treatment.  For two of us it was too late; he and I descended into a deep and dark convalescence.  

For me, my work came to a grinding halt, made even more grim by the cold, dark, and snow of a wintery January. My voice- and health- steadily recovered throughout late January and February.  The GE guy also took off several days.  

The GE team and I can now look back with relief, and the knowledge that these two days of PowerPoint training could help us make one terrific presentation about our shared experience.  But that’s the past. It’s now time to focus on presentations about a bright bold future.  Spring Forward.

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  • ADB
  • ADP
  • ADT
  • Accenture
  • American-Express
  • Aramark
  • Carvel
  • Comcast
  • Costa
  • Cox
  • DAI
  • GE-Healthcare
  • GTE-Financial
  • Gtt
  • Johnson-and-Johnson
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  • Motorola
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  • “We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer.”

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG

  • “Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile.”

    Maria Cardoso
    Motorola

  • “Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service.”

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications

  • “Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level.”

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I’ve already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin’s services.”

    Era Prakash
    General Electric

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting.”

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget”

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.

  • “I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!”

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising

  • “As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation…”

    Will Flower
    Republic Services

  • “Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition.”

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction

  • “Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team. He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won.

    Jeff Keller
    Accenture/L3

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