The power of speech

Nathan and I just returned from the Global Plastics Summit in Houston this week. Attendees were there from all over the world. We heard a lot about market trends, trade & tariffs and especially sustainability. (How can plastics be kept out of the environment.) We heard a lot about reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle. Based on the talks and time devoted to sustainability it is clearly an important issue for the plastics and petrochemical industry.

For the first time ever, Shale Crescent USA presented on the main stage at an IHSMarkit conference. We have been part of a breakout session or workshop. We have had IHSMarkit present our information. This week Nathan Lord, Shale Crescent USA Business Manager and I told the Shale Crescent USA story and presented information from our most recent IHSMarkit study, released in March at the World Petrochemical Conference in San Antonio. I was also part of a Q&A panel after the speech.

I have given a lot of speeches and workshops to large groups. As a professional member of the National Speakers Association and President of the Ohio Chapter, I have had the opportunity to learn from the best professional speakers in the world. Nathan has given our Shale Crescent USA presentation to local groups and has spoken at church.

This was the largest group he has ever spoken to. It was a tough crowd since they are a seasoned group of industry professionals. I was proud of how Nathan connected to the audience when he opened his part of the presentation. He nailed it!

This is about more than just doing a great speech. It is about results. Did we change minds? Did we create interest? Did we create awareness? After we finished companies approached us that we had not met. They had questions and wanted to know more. These short discussions led to detailed meetings with several companies. We had one solid prospect who wants to come to the Shale Crescent USA to look at sites and meet our State Economic Development people. We have several new leads including a major chemical company who came to our booth because of the speech.

I was able to meet with an executive of a Japanese company we wanted to contact. We knew they had an executive attending the conference. The speech was the introduction. I saw him listening intently in the second row. We have started the process. He smiled and commented when I handed him our business card in Japanese. We will be remembered. The key now is follow up. All because of a speech.

A number of our existing leads and prospects attended.

The speech was an additional touch. The main stage speech gave us additional creditability. It also gave the leads and prospects additional information we could discuss with them and answer their questions.

The speech was just an opportunity. It was preparation from the entire Shale Crescent USA Team that turned an opportunity into positive results. What about you? If you or someone in your organization is presented with the opportunity to tell your story to a room full of people and prospects are you ready? Here are some thoughts that may help you. These are in addition to what we learned in school about making a speech. We always need to dress appropriately, look at the audience, stand tall, talk loud and clear so you can be understood, keep hands out of our pockets etc.

It’s all about the audience not you or your information. Focus on their needs.

Have no more than 3 major points. The audience won’t recall more than 10% of what you say. What do you want them to remember a month from your talk?

Practice and prepare. Nathan and I both practiced the presentation multiple times. Just as important, we went to the ballroom where we gave the presentation the day before. We didn’t want any surprises. We made sure every slide could be read from the back of the room. We made sure the audio and video were working properly. We found there were problems with the video and sound. Both were fixed. We were flawless the next day.

Make a heart to heart connection with the audience before sharing any information. If you make this connection, they will listen to you and may even allow themselves to be changed.

Start strong. I opened with a memorable story making a point about change. People remember stories. We all recall Bible stories and have family stories we retell.

Have passion and energy. Be excited about your topic and the audience will get excited about it too. One of things people told us after the talk, “There was something different about you guys. You had energy. I wanted to know more.” Another comment, “You guys really woke up the crowd.”

Be memorable. The audience may not recall much of what you say, they will always remember how you made them feel.

If you use slides make sure everyone can read them. Less is more. Your slides are NOT your notes. They should be used help to make your point memorable. The Stonewall Group put our slides and video together. They did a great job.

Finish strong. We used our Bloomberg video with Wally Kandel at the end. I then closed with a short encouraging story and a powerful quote.

You don’t have to be the most talented to be memorable and get your message out to an audience. It takes preparation and practice. You need to believe you can be successful. Professional assistance is available from the National Speakers Association locally through www.nsaohio.com or www.nsaspeaker.org You can do it!

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Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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