CASE STUDY: Presentation Skills Training

AIA 600x314 (2)The case studies outlined in the “Athena In Action” series are being shared as examples of the variety of solutions we have provided to our clients for over a decade.

TOPIC: Presentation Skills

INDUSTRY:  Manufacturing

ASSESSMENT/SITUATION:  I was call in to talk to the Director of Human Resources about the engineer’s ability to effectively deliver their monthly reports.  The President flew in from the US every month for a meeting where all the department heads provided presentations on their activities and results. The engineers were technically fantastic and knew their jobs but were very poor at presenting.  They often had too much information on their slides and they would read from them.  Some of them were visibly very nervous and some others were unfocused and would go off in a different direction.  The President also felt the format of the meeting was ineffective and asked the Director of Human Resources to arrange for  training for the engineers.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING:  Since this audience was perfect for my  “Make Your Point” presentation skills program, I submitted my program as a possible solution.  Once the Director of Human Resources read through the details of my program, she agreed it was a great fit.

SOLUTION: I delivered my one day Presentation Skills program that provided the development of the engineers Presentation Skills ability. Specific areas addressed included:

  • Handling nervousness
  • Structure of a good presentation: Opening, Body and Closing
  • Understanding the needs of your audience
  • Presentation skills – Tips and Techniques
    • Handling questions
    • Body language/gestures
    • Using voice and tone effectively – characteristics of a good speaking voice
    • Eliminating distracting mannerisms
    • Using stories effectively to communicate your message
    • Facial expressions – eye contact
  • Using PowerPoint & other visual aids effectively

This program provided significant opportunity for participants to practice their new skills that were introduced within the program. It also provided the participants with the opportunity to interact with each other in a fun and collaborative way.

RESULTS:  We accomplished the objectives through a program delivery format that was highly interactive and provided tangible outcomes in the form of awareness, tools, and new skills that were immediately applied back on the job. Participants were able to practice their presentations twice during the program and receive valuable verbal and written feedback for improvement.  Everyone left saying they felt more confident to deliver their presentations the following month. In addition to learning new presentation skills I addressed the issue of the inefficient meeting. We changed the format from having one person be the MC and get up and announce each presenter, we had each presenter invite the next speaker on the agenda come to the front.  This shaved 15 minutes off the overall meeting time. The President was very pleased at the next meeting, not only because the presentations were more professional and also how efficient the meeting was run.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in these case studies in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

About the Author:  Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC I have an unquenchable passion for life-long learning and continuous improvement. I am a Training Agent, Certified Coach and Facilitator. I work with organizations to simplify the process and reduce the risk of outsourcing training, coaching and HR Consulting.  I provide a one source solution to finding the “Perfect Fit”​ training solution for sustainable results. I believe contributing to the strengthening of my client’s most powerful asset, their employees, is today’s most valuable investment.  416-290-5227



Blind Spots ~ Solving Hidden Business Problems (Excerpts Part Four)

Why is it that some leaders are successful, while others struggle?  In this guide in narrative form, Russell Baxter, a fictional character and outgoing CEO, shares his secrets of success with incoming CEO Amir Ahmed.  Baxter demonstrates that great leaders need tobookcoversmall be aware of their vulnerabilities or blind spots and take action to make necessary changes.Filled with practical advice, Blind Spots shows the value on drawing on experts to develop valuable skills that can take your business to the next level.  For the month of September our blog will highlight short excerpts from our book Blind Spots ~ Solving Hidden Business Problems.

Blind Spot Ten: Presenting Without Authenticity


A presentation is more than just saying the right words. It’s about being your personal best. This performance hinges on congruency: making sure how you look, how you speak, and what you say, is aligned with your intent for the presentation.

When we prepare for a presentation, too often we focus solely on our words. We don’t practice delivery, and we don’t wonder about the time, place, or mood of the audience. But, we can harness these elements to empower a presentation.


Use a golden thread. It’s not enough to just ramble on in a presentation, you have to connect everything you do in a certain flow. A strong opening and closing are vital, as are that congruency we talked about earlier.

 Ask questions. Genuine or rhetorical questions can quickly grasp an audience’s attention. It brings them into an engaged role with the presenter, as opposed to being passive observers in the presentation.

Minimize distractions. Think of the setup of your room—does it focus audience attention on you? Think of when you’ll give handouts—will people start reading ahead and divert their attention from you?

Go minimal for Powerpoint. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one slide is worth eight minutes of talking. Instead of overloading your slides with transcripts from your speech, use them as visual aides to highlight your points. A good rule of thumb is to have a maximum of eight words per line, eight lines per slide and one point on every slide.

Be comfortable. You don’t have to be Tony Robbins, just be your authentic self. If you try to be someone you’re not, the audience will sense it, and they’ll disengage from your message.

 Blind Spot Eleven: Selling Without Understanding Needs


Good sales aren’t about picking up the phones and talking; good sales are about asking great questions, listening to the client, and then helping them discover how your products and services can help them.

Neil Rakham’s SPIN model is one mode of selling by asking questions. In SPIN selling, the salesperson lets the client do the talking by asking questions. These questions begin by understanding the client’s situation, learning about the client’s problem, finding out the implications of that problem, and then discovering the payoff that they would receive from buying your product. Throughout this period, the client voices their concerns, and comes to their own conclusions about buying. Since a client naturally trusts an opinion they arrive at themselves more, this makes for a powerful selling tool!


Your entire sales team, from top to bottom, exists to sell your product. As such, your entire team needs to be geared towards that goal.Sales is a unique business practice, and managers need insight into that practice to drive sales. Salespeople benefit more from coaching than from managing. A manager can say “go make this many sales” but a coach can fire up their staff, driving them to complete their task. By giving your senior staff management and coaching training, you’ll give them superior tools to manage your sales staff, and to coach them to achieve more results.

Blind Spot Twelve: Not Engaging Your Remote Workers


With the world becoming increasingly connected and globalized, the need for work to be done face-to-face is diminishing. And with the evolution of technology, it’s cheaper and easier than ever to hold a virtual meeting and conduct business from around the world.


Virtual teams have a downside. If nobody initiates social interaction or makes an effort to build enduring relationships, it’s easy for employees to become disengaged. Think about how isolated and disconnected a virtual team member can feel from the rest of the team!

The solution is to build more intimate relationships with your teammates. Although work-related chatter is important, it’s necessary to get to know the personal side of your colleagues.

You can do this by making room for small talk. On special occasions, such as welcoming a new team member, you can arrange virtual pizza parties—just have pizza delivered to your team at lunchtime, and for those in a different time zone, send them a gift certificate for their local coffee shop. Gestures such as these will make everyone feel like an integral part of the team.

You can even play games to kick off a meeting, such as posting a map of the world and asking your team members to use a pointer tool—available with many web conferencing tools—to pinpoint their location. Engaging in any kind of game or activity gets team members involved in pre-meeting discussions.

Your associates will reciprocate your persistent attempt to get to know them better by being more interested in you.