Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Public Speaking and Keeping it Real

On behalf of the American Marketing Association, St. Louis Chapter, I was able to convince Jim Woodcock to be our luncheon speaker in November of 2012. Typically the speaker brings a PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentation, fiddles with a laptop, worries about sound checks  and lights. Often the presentation is adapted from another presentation and another audience.

Jim suggested the format be more of an open dialogue. Most guest speakers would consider this tantamount to a high-wire act without a net. The more we talked about his plan for the session, the more I realized a couple of things. 1. Jim is a supremely confident speaker and 2. Jim is a seasoned professional and will know how to work the room. No canned presentation, no magic tricks, no cleaver staging or antics. Jim is going to approach this audience and encourage participation.

Jim Woodcock rejoined Fleishman-Hillard in 2005 following eight years with the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and Scottrade Center, the team’s arena. As the co-leader of the global sports business practice at Fleishman-Hillard, Jim offers clients a breadth of experience and expertise in the sports business, brand strategy, reputation management, public affairs, crisis communications, marketing, sponsorship, broadcast rights, facilities management, publications, messaging, media relations and training. I think he can handle this.

The presentation is next week. Jim provided me with an introduction bio and I have never been less concerned about the mechanics, speaker support and technology. That is what I call “keeping it real.” Now, this AMA audience can be brutally honest and tough in their evaluations. (Particularly, those who bother to provide their feedback via electronic survey after the event.) As the programming chair, I am thrilled that Jim is looking to break with the status quo and offer the benefit of his expertise in an extemporaneous and free flowing way. Certainly, I would not advocate this approach for a less confident and/or experienced speaker but I have a feeling Jim will be a big hit.

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