Wow… I can’t stress enough how much improvement I made over the course of two days from taking this program from Dale Carnegie. Before I continue with this post I want to thank Julianne Rivera (Sr. Business Consultant) for encouraging me to take this class. Had it not been for her, my audience would have paid the price. I also want to thank Ercell Charles and April Farlow for being great coaches throughout this program and doing a fantastic job. This was my first time taking a Dale Carnegie class and it won’t be my last. Make sure to watch the before and after videos below to see why.

Why did I want to take this class?

Every time I receive a comment on this blog from my users letting me know that what I wrote helped them in some way, I find it extremely rewarding. I like being able to share my thoughts, knowledge, and experience with others and have decided I want to start presenting to local user groups to further expand my reach. I know my material, but my presentation skills were lacking. I have my first presentation coming up for the Atlanta PHP User Group and I want to make sure I don’t bore my audience. I did a quick dry run to test my presentation and it wasn’t very energetic… it was actually pretty dull. So when the opportunity to take a Dale Carnegie class on presentations presented itself, I took it.

About the class

The program was tough, two days from 8am to 5pm Thursday and Friday none-stop plus homework. The class consisted of 8-9 students and two coaches, Ercell Charles and April Farlow. Both coaches were extremely knowledgeable and great to work with. The focus of the class is not what our content is but how to effectively deliver our content to an audience. How to catch our audience’s attention and keep them interested throughout. How to add energy and use our voice to get points across.

In two days, we each presented probably 8 times, six of which were recorded. We would receive coaching during each presentation and more coaching when we watched our video afterwards. This was probably the biggest eye opener for me, watching myself on video after a presentation and watching the progression I was making with each presentation. The coaches made us do, what at the time felt like wild and crazy things, but when you watched yourself on the tape, you looked perfectly normal, more than that, you looked like a real presenter!

Not only were the coaches valuable but so was everyone else there. Being able to watch these other people present and interact with them was very helpful to the experience. We all helped each other with lots of positive reenforcement and it was nice watching each individual grow with each presentation. The individual who left the biggest impression with me was one who during his first presentation was very quiet and timid. He lacked confidence and you could tell he wasn’t in his comfort zone. On the second day, during his last presentation, he was a completely different person. You could not have known this man and the man from the day before were the same person. He was so confident, did an excellent job using his voice and gestured and captured his audience for the entire duration of his presentation.

Below are my before and after videos. Don’t focus on the content, just focus on how I am delivering the content. Focus on my voice inflection (or lack off), look at my hands and posture. You may want to watch the first then the second a couple times to really get the full experience.

Before and after videos

Before:

After:

I’ve watched these two videos over and over again with a huge smile on my face and excitement to see the after me. I know I can do much better now to keep my audience entertained! And the best part, this is just the starting point. I now have what I need to keep improving.

The toughest part of this program was the end of the last day – the questions and answers session. Very tough questions were asked to each of us, questions that we didn’t necessarily want to answer about us as individuals, our company, or our products and service. Some were tough because they dealt with uncomfortable issues, others were in an attempt to incite anger or discomposure. These questions needed to be asked to teach us how to deal with them in a very professional manner. We were taught not to use ‘fighting words’ (like Ercell likes to call them) in our response. We were taught how to deal with individuals who try to bring us down by keeping our credibility and sticking to our values.

Overall I give Ercell, April, and Dale Carnegie an A+ for this High Impact Presentation program. It was very rewarding and I encourage any of you who currently give presentations at work or user groups as well as those like me who want to start presenting to look into this program. You will not regret taking it. If you have any questions about this program feel free to contact Julianne Rivera.

Have you taken this program before? If so, I’d like to hear how it went.