Getting your message across – introducing Speakeasy (Manchester)

garratscreenThe art and soul of presenting

If you’re in business, you have two massive questions to ask yourself:

First, what’s my message?
Second, am I putting it across well enough?

For many businesses, it’s not at all clear what their message is AND there’s a frustration that the audience isn’t really ‘getting it’.

That’s why I’m launching  Speakeasy – first in Manchester, then beyond!

Two groups launched in Manchester (choose one):

  • Group A
  • First meeting Mon 25th Jan (6-8pm)
  • MMU Business School, Aytoun Street, Manchester M1 3GH
  • Group B
  • First meeting Tues 9th Feb (6-8pm)
  • Offices of Horwath Clark Whitehill, Arkwright House, Parsonage Gardens, Manchester M3 2HP

What is Speakeasy?

It’s a monthly networking event where we help people develop their presentation skills:

  • 4 volunteers deliver a short business pitch (5 mins each)
  • the audience has a chance to give feedback
  • process is guided by an experienced facilitator/coach.
  • £20 per session, to include light refreshments.

We’re interested in  THE MESSAGE (was it clear and easily understood?)

We’re looking at the  STYLE OF DELIVERY (slides, body language, use of voice, etc).

We’re looking to develop  CONFIDENCE AND SKILL in the way people present their ideas.

It’s an essential skill, something we’re often called upon to do -  the initial meeting (in answer to “what do you do?”); the  10 minute guest slot (at a networking event); the  formal presentation (client proposal/team briefing); the  public speech (conference or seminar).

SpeakEasy logo for email sig

Test-drive your pitch

Speakeasy is a rare opportunity to ‘test-drive’ your proposition in front of a live audience, and in a safe and encouraging environment.  Remember, it’s more important to know how the audience received your message than how you think you delivered it.  The trouble is, you very rarely get an honest opinion.  If it’s poor or average no one says anything to you.  If it’s exceptional they might, but you don’t need help!  It means you’re operating in a vacuum – and  you never really get better!

What’s in it for the audience?

  • Network with fellow professionals.
  • Tip of the month – we focus on a different presenting skill each time.
  • A chance to absorb, and learn from, what others are doing.
  • Work together in teams on subsequent presentations – learn through doing AND supporting fellow members.

Speakeasy has TWO clubs running in Manchester, first meetings on:

  1. Present your pitch.
  2. Attend as a non-presenter.
  3. Contribute as a facilitator (coaches only) as the concept grows.

I’m delighted to say that Neil Firth, who let the barbershop group so expertly at the recent Pecha Kucha event, has agreed to share his expertise with us as a guest contributor on the this first event on 25th Jan. Neil is a voice coach and draws on his extensive musical career to help business people use their voice more effectively when speaking to groups. He also runs team and confidence-building activities, again using musical techniques like barbershop harmonies.


My aim is to establish several groups in Manchester, but we’ll start with these two.

The Speakeasy Philosophy

As the name implies, our aim is to encourage a more natural, conversational style of communication.  We believe audiences relate well to this style and experience more ‘connection’ with the speaker.

We want to provide a safe, positive and wholly encouraging environment for people to present and develop their craft.  Feedback should always be constructive and the facilitator’s role is to manage this process.

But presenters must also be ready to receive honest feedback – that’s the whole point!  It’s a safe setting to ‘test-drive’ your message and develop your presentation skills.

We want presenters to feel comfortable with the Speakeasy environment.  We expect the highest standards of professionalism from our attendees, and comments made outside the group should reflect positively on those who take part.

Presenters should choose topics and material that are fit and proper for open, public consumption (nothing confidential or business-sensitive).  Topics might include:

  • An overview of your business proposition.
  • A new product or service.
  • An insight into your industry.
  • An off-the-wall topic for which you have a passion.

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