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Doug Keeley

Doug Keeley
Founder of The Mark of a Leader

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8 Aug 12

Ah, yes? How Winston Churchill can help you with your presentation

The figure and philosophy of Winston Churchill is an indelible feature of the British psyche. Quotes from his speeches, his likeness, and his achievements as a leader at one of the pivotal moments in modern British history are referenced on a daily basis. He consistently tops the polls ranking historical British prime ministers and he even made a cameo in the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 

Churchill’s successes are well documented, but what was so special about his qualities as a leader that enabled him to achieve those successes, and how can these qualities be made relevant for the modern meetings environment?

Script what you say

Churchill knew that radio and print were the most powerful weapons at his disposal to inspire his people, so he used his skills as an orator and writer to craft his messages to get maximum impact. Today, most corporate presenters build a PowerPoint deck and then “wing it” with their verbal delivery. The result is typically messages that are quickly forgotten.

Preparation is paramount

It is said that Churchill spent one hour on every finished minute of his speeches. In reality this is unlikely, but it’s a useful discipline to emulate. Many executives feel they don’t need rehearsals or preparation, a practice to which Mr. Churchill would take great exception. The greatest performers in the world spend more time rehearsing than they do in concert – a useful habit for any executive to emulate. You are never too good to prepare fully and rehearse.

Use sound bites

Churchill was a master of the unforgettable sound bite. Proclamations like "We will fight them on the beaches" and "Never, never, never give up" have become as famous as the man himself. Churchill used powerful, short words and clever phrases that he knew would stick in his people’s minds and hearts.

Be passionate

Churchill’s passion helped save the world. His bulky, stout frame and advancing years belied a force of delivery that those hearing him couldn’t fail to swept along by. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re saying, you cannot expect your audience to be engaged.

Know what you want people to feel

When we ask many executives what they want their people to think and feel after their presentation, they do not know. Churchill knew exactly what he wanted people to think and feel, and everything he did was focused on achieving it. Be clear on your outcome, and craft everything toward achieving it.

- Doug Keeley is the Founder of innovative leadership training company, The Mark of a Leader. For the past eight years, The Mark of a Leader has worked with a range of major businesses in North America – including Accenture, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Royal & Sun Alliance, and Starbucks – to create engaging and effective meetings. The Mark of a Leader has just opened in the UK with a view to bringing Keeley unique vision of engagement to the European market.

Any comments? Email conferencenews@mashmedia.net

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