Speakeasy Groups was created because I saw a problem in the SME networking arena. So many people were struggling to introduce themselves, defaulting to a very dull, “Hi, my name’s Ian and I’m a printer. We do all sorts of printing – business cards, letterheads, banners…” Oh dear! And when the moment came for someone to present their business in the ‘showcase slot’, their 10 minute presentation was usually very factual, poorly delivered and wholly forgettable.
It was all such a shame, because these people were paying good money to get themselves in front of people, but were poorly equipped to make a positive impact when they got there. The feeling seemed to be, “If I can just tell more people what we do, we’ll do more business.”
But these days, faced with an ocean of marketing noise through social media, you need a strong story and the ability to tell it well in order to make an impact.
So in January 2010 we launched Speakeasy Groups in the MMU Business School, Manchester. I wanted to give people an opportunity to test-drive their message on an audience of their peers, to get helpful feedback and craft a better story. You might think, “Why on earth would people subject themselves to this?” Well, about 600 people have since that evening and I guess it’s because we create a very safe and encouraging environment. The kind of feedback you get at Speakeasy is so rare. You often get feedback sheets after delivering a talk, but they’re of the ‘rate-out-of-10-how-good-the-
I’d love you to come along to one of the sessions (your first taster is free, dates and venues here), and I’ve summarized some reasons why this really matters and how this process can transform the way you present yourself.
Why it matters
Crafting and delivering a better story about what you do and how you help people means you’ll make a stronger impact when you present yourself. You do this more than you think – not just formally in a PPT presentation but in conversations too. Trotting off the facts of where you’re based and what you do won’t woo the audience or distinguish you from your rivals. Explaining WHY you do what you do and showing how you’ve transformed people’s lives gets you noticed.
A lot of people say they don’t mind presenting their ideas 1-to-1 but shy away from group presentations. But think of it this way – it saves time if you can win over 40 people at once!
If you craft a strong message AND get really good at telling it, you get asked to do it more and more (it becomes your main marketing tool). If you get really good at it you get paid to do it too – how cool is that!
If you’re an employee, the ability to present in a compelling way marks you out as leadership material.
You get a very rare kind of quality feedback, with professional facilitation thrown in.
Why it works
Speakeasy is about developing a skill and deals with something that many people have a problem with. This sense of ‘all being in it together’ encourages the development of stronger, deeper less pressurized relationships than the normal networking arena. It helps people connect with one another on a deeper level.
You get the chance to tell more people about what you do, at the same time as actually improving the way you put it across (a double whammy!).
It’s a lot of fun – it’s an incredibly supportive environment and encourages people to let down their guard and be themselves.
It works – all these people can’t be wrong!
- One client won a major contract by developing a more personalised, story based approach to presenting.
- Two others have found work after extended periods of unemployment, following forced redundancy.
- Another, a senior manager in the civil service, transformed his relationship with his team by presenting his personal story.