Business Delivery Diary Technology Video

How Decker Made Me Different

Spending the day at Decker was delightful. Shortly after arriving, the transformation of my delivery techniques was well underway.

The meeting started at 9 a.m. in their San Francisco office. Their office is in a first-class building that is inspirational and professional. The path to their front door walks you through a zen-like garden with a large tiled circle. When you stand in the center of concentric tiles and talk, your voice is amplified (no idea how that worked).

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Kelly greeted me right on time and we started off reviewing my goals for the day.

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Even though I’m an “okay” presenter, it was easy to see right away some areas of development and the power that great delivery has in connecting with the audience and conveying ideas well. I’d never had an objective view of how I communicate and as Kelly recorded my delivery, she had great insights for me.

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Great communication is more important than ever right now. It feeds the impression we leave about our transparency and authenticity (or worse, can do the opposite). She had a great quote by Bernard Baruch “The ability to express an idea is well nigh as important as the idea itself.”

Even though I might have been considered “good enough” by many, having someone walk through the weak spots in my delivery was extremely valuable. We worked on three key areas:

  1. Eye contact
  2. Posture
  3. Gestures

Here’s the “before” video. I removed the audio from the clip so you can focus solely on my body language. I scan the audience and don’t look anyone in the eye, I’m swaying and leaning on one foot or the other, I keep my hands cupped in front of me and my legs crossed. I thought I came across as comfortable and casual in front of a crowd but in reality, I look uncomfortable and possibly even uncaring.

Now look at the transformation. In this video it looks like I’m talking to people instead of at them. My movements are more intentional, my stance is more grounded and my eyes aren’t darting around from side to side.

Kelly felt like I had good facial expression but she had to work on my eye contact for quite a while. She’d put photos of people with various expressions on the chairs and had me hold their eyes for 5 seconds. It was uncomfortable at first but the results are visible in the video clip.

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She’d snap her fingers when it was time to move to another set of eyes to gaze into. Last Friday I spoke at the HOW Conference in Austin and received the most positive feedback I have had to date. People felt like I was speaking directly to them (and I was).

When Kelly saw enough improvement in my eye contact, we began to focus on posture and gestures. My son feels that I already talk too much with my hands, so for Kelly to instruct me to use even bigger gestures was counter-intuitive.

Below on the left we’re practicing at the Decker offices and the photo on the right has me utilizing big gestures by workin’ the How Conference crowd:

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When I was done writing my presentation for HOW, I actually rehearsed the presentation and mapped out some moments that could use gestures in a dramatic way.

Once Kelly had my posture and gestures tidied up, I got to work in the infamous Decker Grid creating new content.

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She walked me though brainstorming about the listeners, considering their point of view, the action steps I want them to take, and the benefits to them. I love the idea of using a folder and sticky notes to prepare  presentations in an analog environment before opening up your presentation application. We borrowed this idea and made our own version of a content development system. The difference between theirs and ours if that ours is focused on the creation of presentations, and theirs is a tool to be used for all communications including phone calls and 1:1’s. It works very well!

The coaching Kelly gave for handling a Q&A had a huge impact on me. She played the role of hostile Q&A girl and I had to make sure she didn’t lure me into her Q&A trap.

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Man, she was good. She’d have a sweet unassuming face as she asked a question and then trapped me with an accusation. She also questioned my credibility and then cornered me to answer a huge string of questions. To break away from her caustic-ness, she helped me visually block her from my view, break away via body language, look another direction, throw my arm in the air and ask if there are any more questions. It worked WONDERS!

She also identified a pretty significant “filler word” I use that I’d never noticed before. She’d absconded a tape from my speaking engagement at FWE&E and queued it up to the Q&A session. For some reason I use the word “right?” as punctuation. It’s like I’m trying to get them to agree with me. It sounds horrible. In this clip alone I say “right?” six times in one minute. Now I can hear myself saying it and am working on eliminating it from my delivery.

We can go through our careers feeling “good enough”. But in reality, I kinda sucked. It took the insights and patience of the Decker program to break some of my repetitive patterns. My body can “feel” the movement I’m to make, I can see the audience more sincerely and I can hear verbal patterns that were unidentified before.

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Kelly was kind enough to graduate me, probably because I rallied to be the teacher’s pet by taking her to having drinks! It was a lovely day with the lovely Kelly Decker, and I am forever changed because of it.

Nancy Duarte

AUTHOR |

Related Posts

  • Your videos are marked as private, so I can’t view them. Could you change the setting, so we can see the before and after? Thanks!

  • Your videos are marked as private, so I can’t view them. Could you change the setting, so we can see the before and after? Thanks!

  • Thanks Debra! Videos are now public.

  • Thanks Debra! Videos are now public.

  • Nancy,

    I appreciate the ideas presented here. I teach college as well as 6th grade and am looking forward to implementing these ideas as the school year begins.

    Thanks so much..

    Chris Craft
    http://www.christophercraft.com

  • Nancy,

    I appreciate the ideas presented here. I teach college as well as 6th grade and am looking forward to implementing these ideas as the school year begins.

    Thanks so much..

    Chris Craft
    http://www.christophercraft.com

  • Good stuff. Preparation makes all the difference.

    I have a client who competed in the Olympics who told how he had trained over 5 years for a sporting event that took less than 5 minutes. Good performances only come from preparation and coaching.

  • Good stuff. Preparation makes all the difference.

    I have a client who competed in the Olympics who told how he had trained over 5 years for a sporting event that took less than 5 minutes. Good performances only come from preparation and coaching.

  • This was great – thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. Among the many great ideas in here:
    – Taping pictures to chairs as a way of practicing making eye contact with individuals;
    – Kelly spotting a specific, distracting “filler word.”

    Along those lines – I teach a class on Facilitation and Presentation Skills (not my main thing, but clients asked for it,) and in it suggest that everyone survey their teammates for one (ONE! not a laundry list) bad habit that they exhibit in their delivery. The first time I did this was about 20 years ago, in the days of overheads and pointers. To be fair, I had the class also decide what was one bad habit on MY part. No problem! Almost immediately they agreed that I was constantly tossing my pointer from one hand to the other, and people were more concerned with when I was going to drop it than the message. It’s always surprising how much someone’s delivery improves when they are given something specific to work on. Just like in your work with Kelly.

    Thanks,
    Alec
    http://www.clariteq.com

  • This was great – thanks so much for sharing your experience with us. Among the many great ideas in here:
    – Taping pictures to chairs as a way of practicing making eye contact with individuals;
    – Kelly spotting a specific, distracting “filler word.”

    Along those lines – I teach a class on Facilitation and Presentation Skills (not my main thing, but clients asked for it,) and in it suggest that everyone survey their teammates for one (ONE! not a laundry list) bad habit that they exhibit in their delivery. The first time I did this was about 20 years ago, in the days of overheads and pointers. To be fair, I had the class also decide what was one bad habit on MY part. No problem! Almost immediately they agreed that I was constantly tossing my pointer from one hand to the other, and people were more concerned with when I was going to drop it than the message. It’s always surprising how much someone’s delivery improves when they are given something specific to work on. Just like in your work with Kelly.

    Thanks,
    Alec
    http://www.clariteq.com

  • Great post, showing us before and after. Funnily enough, I just did a post on filler words and eye contact (http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/powerpointtips/powerpoint_tip_filler_words_eye_contact.html). My technique is to use little animals on the back of my chair when I practice. I show a picture of them.

  • Great post, showing us before and after. Funnily enough, I just did a post on filler words and eye contact (http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/powerpointtips/powerpoint_tip_filler_words_eye_contact.html). My technique is to use little animals on the back of my chair when I practice. I show a picture of them.

  • Great post, showing just how much you as the presenting package effects the gift. Giving someone a birthday gift wrapped in old newspaper is very different than the same gift wrapped in crisp, colourful paper tied with a red ribbon.

    I also really like the use of the faces on the chairs when you don’t have a live audience to practice on. I use it every time I’m preparing a presentation or making audio and video recordings. It makes a huge difference!

  • Great post, showing just how much you as the presenting package effects the gift. Giving someone a birthday gift wrapped in old newspaper is very different than the same gift wrapped in crisp, colourful paper tied with a red ribbon.

    I also really like the use of the faces on the chairs when you don’t have a live audience to practice on. I use it every time I’m preparing a presentation or making audio and video recordings. It makes a huge difference!

  • Rev. Dr. Chris N. Hinkle

    I’ve noticed that Bert Decker constantly harps on video. Now I see why. I guess it’s time for this old preacher to break out the camera again.

  • Rev. Dr. Chris N. Hinkle

    I’ve noticed that Bert Decker constantly harps on video. Now I see why. I guess it’s time for this old preacher to break out the camera again.

  • I loved the article. I run a social networking platform company and too wrestle with public presentations. Many people are communicating more these days via social media, which is traditionally an electronic, pre-published format. I think this creates fewer opportunities for people to practice delivery skills and increases the need for this type of training & study. I’ll try a few of these tips at our next all hands meeting.

    Thanks!

    Michael Wilson
    CEO, Small World Labs

  • I loved the article. I run a social networking platform company and too wrestle with public presentations. Many people are communicating more these days via social media, which is traditionally an electronic, pre-published format. I think this creates fewer opportunities for people to practice delivery skills and increases the need for this type of training & study. I’ll try a few of these tips at our next all hands meeting.

    Thanks!

    Michael Wilson
    CEO, Small World Labs

  • That’s a great post. As a grad student in the sciences, presentation delivery skills (e.g. posture and eye contact) rarely get mentioned. However, one of the best science communication workshops that I went to was led by Tim Miller, from Divine Wind Design, who had a background in theater before getting his PhD.

  • That’s a great post. As a grad student in the sciences, presentation delivery skills (e.g. posture and eye contact) rarely get mentioned. However, one of the best science communication workshops that I went to was led by Tim Miller, from Divine Wind Design, who had a background in theater before getting his PhD.

  • Ally S

    I can’t thank you enough for this Nancy, this is such a great help. (This is one of the reasons why I think you’re such an inspiration – your willingness to keep learning, and teaching).

    And this has spurred me on to get coaching as well. I’ve been getting by on being ‘good enough’ but I think you’ve showed that have an independent expert’s view can really help you get to the next level. Thanks again.

  • Ally S

    I can’t thank you enough for this Nancy, this is such a great help. (This is one of the reasons why I think you’re such an inspiration – your willingness to keep learning, and teaching).

    And this has spurred me on to get coaching as well. I’ve been getting by on being ‘good enough’ but I think you’ve showed that have an independent expert’s view can really help you get to the next level. Thanks again.

  • Your personal candor and willingness to share, the good and the not so good is quite inspiring. For me the biggest takeaway, apart from all the specific tips you mentioned, is your decision to have someone help you professionally. That has made all the difference to me as well, and I teach this stuff! There really is no substitute for working with a coach who is skillful and caring. Athletes think nothing of it, same with musicians. But we business people shirk at using someone to help us practice to develop specific skills. Your experience is a great example of how to do it. Nicely done!

  • Your personal candor and willingness to share, the good and the not so good is quite inspiring. For me the biggest takeaway, apart from all the specific tips you mentioned, is your decision to have someone help you professionally. That has made all the difference to me as well, and I teach this stuff! There really is no substitute for working with a coach who is skillful and caring. Athletes think nothing of it, same with musicians. But we business people shirk at using someone to help us practice to develop specific skills. Your experience is a great example of how to do it. Nicely done!

  • ade

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I never really gave thought to all the things you pointed out but now I know better.

    Sometimes its good to be the teacher’s pet 🙂

  • ade

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I never really gave thought to all the things you pointed out but now I know better.

    Sometimes its good to be the teacher’s pet 🙂

  • Thanks, nice read your post.

  • Thanks, nice read your post.

  • Yin Simons

    I have had a little problem viewing this video but its solved now.i am a teacher as well of grade 10 and i am very likely going to adopt and practice these wonderful ideas .let see how far and good can i go in implementing these ideas.
    Vision care Austin

  • Yin Simons

    I have had a little problem viewing this video but its solved now.i am a teacher as well of grade 10 and i am very likely going to adopt and practice these wonderful ideas .let see how far and good can i go in implementing these ideas.
    Vision care Austin

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