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



4 Tips for Ensuring Your Body Language is Working for You by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

body language

As professionals, we often take great care in ensuring that the words we use and our tone of voice are professional, and help us to portray the image we deem appropriate with staff and clients. It is just as important, however, to ensure that our body language matches that professional tone and style. When body language is incongruent with speech, those listening to you may have difficulty accepting your sincerity. There are four simple things you can watch for to ensure that your body language presents as positive an image as your speech.body language

  1. Smile. It might seem obvious that it’s important to smile, but smiling does more than make people like you. According to research by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, when you smile, people are also more likely to remember you. This is important, particularly if you are in a sales or customer service position. Clients are more likely to buy from you if they remember you. In addition, when you smile at someone, they almost always smile back at you. When they return your smile, their brain responds emotionally to those facial movements, creating a positive feeling for them.
  2. Maintain eye contact. In Western cultures, people expect eye contact to be maintained about 50-60% of the time during a conversation. In business conversations, less eye contact can send the message that you are hiding something, that you are not trustworthy or that you are not confident.
  3. Stand tall and take up space. When you want to give a more powerful and confident image, make yourself a more physically imposing presence. Stand tall with shoulders square, using a wide stance. This signifies power, and may even temporarily increase testosterone levels, which can help you feel more confident.
  4. Gesture appropriately. Talking with your hands can make you seem more approachable. In particular, open gestures, such as those that allow the palms of your hands to show, give you credibility. At the same time, beware of nervous gestures, like smoothing your clothes or playing with your hair. These gestures suggest that you lack confidence.

Putting forth your best image is a combination of your appearance, your actions and your speech. When you pay attention to each of these areas, you gain credibility as well as make people feel more comfortable. Each of these habits may take a little practice, but mastering these is well worth the effort to help ensure your body tells the same story as your speech

Visualization- The Lazy Man’s Tool for Success???

visualize outcomes to increase success in reaching goals

Visualization- The Lazy Man’s Tool for Success???

visualize outcomes to increase success in reaching goalsWhen I ask participants in either my sales or presentation skills training programs if they visualize, I often get a blank stare back at me.  I then go on to explain that visualization is a mental practice that can help you achieve more of what you want in your life and prepare you mentally for success.  The great news is that you can do this from anywhere, sitting on your couch or lounging in your backyard.  It requires no accessories or tools.  Whether you are mentally rehearsing your next presentation, your golf swing or asking for a raise, you are setting yourself up with a better chance for success.

Some research shows that mental practice is almost as effective as physical practice and by doing both was more effective than doing each one alone.  Many athletes both novice and seasoned create very detailed mental practices engaging all their senses to enhance their performance.  Tiger Woods has been doing this since his pre-teens.

Jack Nicklaus, World Champion Golfer has said: “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”  Muhammad Ali, Heavyweight Champion used different mental practices to enhance his performance in the ring such as: affirmation; mental rehearsal; visualization; self-confirmation; and the most powerful epigram of personal worth ever uttered: “I am the greatest!”

We have learned from brain studies that our thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions.  We can train our brain through our mental practices.  This can result in increased effectiveness, improved motivation, increased confidence and simply setting yourself up for the expectation of success!

So how can you use this at work?  Great question!

Start by getting very clear about your desired outcome.  Imagine you are looking at a TV screen and you are watching yourself in the future, having already achieved what it is you are wanting to achieve.  Engage as many of your senses as you can.  Notice how you are feeling once you have achieved success.  Notice if there are other people involved, what are they doing and saying?  Practice, practice, practice!  It is good to practice just before going to bed or just when you wake up.

The next time you have an important presentation to deliver, practice it in your mind as well as physically go through your presentation.  You will be amazed at how much more you will be in “flow” and confidence you will feel. 

If you are in sales and have a new client you want to impress.  Of course, you will do your due diligence and thorough research about your potential client, but this time you are going to go one step further.  You are going to step up your sales game and spend some time before the call visualizing how the call will go.  You will see yourself connecting with the prospect and watch in your mind’s eye how you easily and effortlessly you interact with this person.  You will visualize how the call will end and see agreement to your desired outcome.  I recommend doing this several times before an important meeting.

The next time you have to engage in a difficult or challenging conversation, see yourself with the other person working things out so it is a win win for everyone.  By mentally rehearsing in such situations can help calm your nerves and help you stay more present during the actual conversation.

Doing visualization exercises doesn’t guarantee that you will get everything you want but studies have shown that results increase when they are combined with practical practice.

“Ordinary people believe only in the possible.  Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible.  And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”  ~ Cherie Carter-Scott

Athena Alliance Members – A Closer Look at David Boyce CSP

David Boyce

Athena Alliance Members – A Closer Look at David Boyce CSP

Since I started the Athena Alliance blogtalk radio show I have had the opportunity to share with our listeners the expertise of our diverse group of trainers, facilitators, coaches and consultants.  Each member has a profile featured on our website and I thought for upcoming blogs I would share with our readers a more personal look at some of our partners and in no particular order.

David Boyce CSP

David BoyceI first met David when we both worked for an experiential training company.  He was one of the first members of my alliance and continues to delight customers with his legendary customer service, supervisory skills programs and he is also my video grapher for our “Make Your Point” presentation skills program.   He also works with organizations when they need support in creating more effective sales teams.  He was one of the first sales people to achieve the CSP (Certified Sales Professional) designation through the Canadian Professional Sales Association.

David and I share the belief that training can and does make a difference in performance, job satisfaction and bottom line results.  David has a very diverse background and has worked as hands on manager in his past positions, which gives him a deeper understanding of the situations our customers face every day.

David is one of those people who is extremely flexible and very easy to work with.  One of the first customers he worked with as an Alliance Member was a funeral services company.  He was contracted to deliver customer service tips training in Toronto offices.  Originally this client was going to run the program for a select few employees and later decided to have the entire company participate in the training.  I remember calling him one day and he was on his way to the grave diggers to gain a better understanding of their roles and responsibilities so he could design their part of the program to address the areas where the needed the support.  Now that’s dedication!

In addition to facilitating for corporations David is a certified coach, conditioning sports trainer and participates in adventure racing and travel. David lives in Oakville with his wife and teenage son.

To review David’s Profile click here:

WOW!!! What an Alliance!

alliance partners concept, learning culture match

alliance partners concept, learning culture matchWOW!!!  What an Alliance!


When I first started the Athena Alliance seven years ago I had no idea what great relationships and wonderful people I would have the privilege of working with.  I often hear from my partners what wonderful customers we have.  I couldn’t agree with them more.  We have been able to support small , mid-size and large organizations with a plethora of various training programs, coaching agreements and Human Resources consulting support.

I can remember the first time I met one of my long standing customers.  She was new in her position and had a mandate to create a learning culture for this mid-size construction company.  Her energy and passion for creating a powerful college was infectious.  Every alliance partner has consistently commented on how fantastic it is to work with her and their employees.  She loved the alliance concept right from the beginning and could see how aligning with me could save her a lot of time and also have trust that the trainers and coaches I introduced her to would be able to deliver the customized solutions she required.

To date she has contracted our alliance partners to provide training in the following areas:

  • Leadership (many areas)
  • Listening skills
  • Power hours
  • Empowerment programs for the Admin team
  • Priority/time management
  • Business writing
  • Disc
  • Presentation Skills
  • Mentoring program
  • Outlook

Every year we sit together and discuss what they have accomplished in the past year and what they want to focus on in the coming year.  I then get to work with my partners to make sure she has the partnerships she needs to make it happen.   She is such a delight to work with and we are all grateful for the opportunity to provide the ongoing support for this organization. 

Just one more reason I love what  I do!!!

Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC