Author Archives: sylvieverleye


Storytelling in a presentation

Last month I was on a 2 day training with a customer in France. It was for a huge group of young people and they were welcomed by 2 senior managers. The first manager opened the training and then gave the floor to the second manager who said this ‘Piet asked me to tell you a story but I don’t want to tell you a story, I want to tell you something that really happened in my business…’

I was in the audience and was really surprised by this because a story for me in a presentation is something that really happened. It is not a made up story. And that gave me the idea to clarify this in a newsletter as I often talk about storytelling. A presentation for me is one big story that needs a clear structure for which I use my model. And from beginning till end the presentation is filled with real anecdotes and this is what I call storytelling.

Most TED talks are filled with storytelling as these are inspirational talks. But even business presentations can have storytelling elements and this is what most people are afraid to use as it is ‘business’. If you want to keep your audience awake, you need variation and one of the best ways to do that with your content is by combining facts & figures with anecdotes (stories).

I remember when I interviewed Marcia De Wachter (she was then vice president of the National bank) she showed me a small book she always carries in her handbag. When something happens that she wants to remember (somethings that happens to her or that she sees happening) she writes it in the booklet and when the book is full her secretary types it out on the computer. She had been doing that for 10 years. When she needed to prepare a presentations she looked in the database which story she could use to begin the presentation and she used it throughout her presentation. That was for her the cherry on the pie and that is storytelling. When Peter Hinssen prepares his presentations he makes a kind of ‘playlist of stories’ and he memorizes the order of these stories. He knows how many stories he can tell in which timing being the experienced speaker he is.

How do you think I remembered to tell you this story for this newsletter? I wrote it down the moment I saw it happening in France ;-)


Presentation tip for people with dyslexia

I am a very happy coach today. A few weeks ago I have coached someone who has dyslexia but he had to talk to a very big audience and did not look forward to that event at all. He had presented to big audiences but that did not go too well and the problem for him was mainly that he fails to memorize presentations.

So he was very happy when I announced him that memorizing a presentation is actually not a good idea. At least, not the way that he had in mind. You have to memorize some things but in a specific way. I helped him to build his story and to begin with we looked for an anecdote to begin his presentation. That is an ‘easy’ beginning because you don’t have to memorize sentences, you just have to remember which anecdote you want to share. I just memorize the first sentence then.

The second step was to find his structure and build a story around it. Actually his whole presentation was filled with anecdotes because this was easy for him to memorize as he had the feeling he could ‘just talk’ but in a structured way.

This was a 20 minute presentation so he used slides and in the end I think this was the biggest help for him. We translated his whole story in pictures of which some with important messages. I advised him to use a ‘cue card’ during the presentation that he could have in his hand. On that cue card he glued the order of the slides in miniature. So when he was lost he could look at his card and seeing the next picture it was easy for him to know what he had to say.

He mailed me this morning that his presentation was simply great and this really made my day :-)

A presentation coaching is never a one time experience…

I rarely remember names but I remember faces very well. And when this guy walked into the training room some 2 weeks ago I knew he had been in my training before. So I checked and I was right and the logical question for me was…happy to see you again, what made you decide to come again to this training? I was so happy when he told me that he had followed my course a year ago and had used so many tips that helped him but now he wanted to reach the next level. Wise guy ;-) A training or coaching in presentations is never a 1 time experience, it is a path…

Presentatie stress en hormonale reacties…

In de 16 jaar dat ik werk als presentatie coach is de meest gestelde vraag zonder twijfel hoe je af geraakt van de stress. Wat velen niet weten is dat heel ervaren sprekers ook stress ervaren, het lijkt alleen alsof ze heel zelfzeker op dat podium staan omdat ze precies weten hoe ze moeten omgaan met die stress. Stress voor een presentatie zal je altijd hebben (meer of minder afhankelijk van topic, publiek en voorbereiding) want het is een natuurlijke hormonale reactie. Wat kan helpen is ‘bewust’ een houding aan te nemen voor het publiek. Ga dicht bij het publiek staan, beweeg vanuit jouw schouders en kies een rusthouding zoals personen die het weerbericht presenteren op televisie. Link naar dit filmpje legt haarfijn uit wat er in jouw lichaam gebeurt……/


Stop speaking before your audience stops listening…

I know so many people who think that the longer you speak and the more content you provide, the more valuable it is. But what about your audience? They have most often a very passive role, just listening, and that is far more difficult than speaking.

Just last week I was following a presentation and I am convinced that everyone was there, as I was, because they were very interested in the topic. Normally this presentation was a session of 1,5 hours (this is for Peter Hinssen for example his favorite time frame for speaking). But as people were coming from all around Belgium and the presentation was organized in Genk, they had asked the speaker to make this a longer session (about 2,5 hours). Far too long and extremely difficult for the audience!

So let me ask you this? Do you organize welcome days for new people? Do they have to listen to presentations of the different division? This is all organized with the best intentions but let me give you this advise. Share short stories with them so they can get to know the company values and send facts & figures or whatever they need. Let them network with each other and mingle with people from the company. Make it fun and it will be so much more valuable… Enjoy your next presentation!

Toastmasters can be life changing…


I have always been a huge fan of Toastmasters. For those who don’t know it, you could compare it with a club or group of people who gather twice a month with one goal: become better at public speaking. There are clubs all over the world as there are clubs all over Belgium. You can just go to the website and check the club near to you and check it out if this is something for you.

Toastmasters organises championships as well between clubs and I have included the winner of 2014. You might watch this presentation for several reasons:
-to understand how Toastmasters can be life changing
-the power of silence to begin a speech
-the power of storytelling
-the power of interaction with the audience
-the power of using a clear thread and here it is ‘I see something in you…’ which glues your speech together                                                                                                                                  -the power of ‘making the circle round’ by ending the presentation the way you began and using the word YOU to link to your audience                                                                                                -and just to hear a great message

I know this is not like your business presentations however you can learn from this. Please enjoy Toastmaster winner 2014.  I see something in you…

Enjoy the Christmas holidays and see you in 2016!

Energiek en fit voor jouw publiek: gratis e-book


Wanneer ik sprekers vraag of ze graag presenteren dan is het antwoord meestal ‘niet echt maar ik moet het doen voor mijn job en ik besef dat het belangrijk is dus wil ik het leren’. Wanneer ik dan vraag wat ze het ergste vinden aan een presentatie dan krijg ik als antwoord ‘alle ogen die op mij gericht zijn’ en om heel eerlijk te zijn vinden vrouwen dat blijkbaar nog net iets erger. Ik help nu al jaren sprekers om zich meer zelfzeker te voelen door hen te helpen met de opbouw van hun verhaal, door hen te helpen met hun slides en door hen te helpen op vlak van bodylanguage maar ik ben heel blij dat ik er nu nog een dimensie kan aan toevoegen: de innerlijke mens! Hoe goed voel je je in je vel want je straalt dat uit…

Ik begeleid nu al een aantal maanden mensen met detoxen via een 9 dagen kuur. We bouwen op naar de detox, dan volgt een kuur van 9 dagen, en is het ook de bedoeling dat je de gezonde eetstijl blijft volhouden. Reacties die ik tot nu toe kreeg: ‘ik heb nog nooit zoveel energie gehad’, ‘ik ben eindelijk af van mijn suikerverslaving’, ‘ik besef terug wat gezonde voeding is en weet nu wat ik kan eten’, ‘ik kan eindelijk terug een maatje minder dragen’. Maar ik krijg tijdens de detox ook veel vragen naar recepten dus ben ik een foodblog gestart met recepten die tijdens de detox kunnen en andere gezonde recepten en eetweetjes.

Mijn echtgenoot (die zelf de detox deed) heeft nu 21 recepten in een e-book gegoten omdat hij zelf de recepten bijzonder lekker vindt ;-). Het zijn bovendien naar mijn mening eenvoudige recepten die je snel kan klaarmaken. Je kan het e-book hier gratis downloaden en wie weet sta je straks heel strak in het pak en fit voor jouw publiek en ga je er nog van genieten ook ;-)



Get out of your comfort zone…

I just received a mail from a lady I have coached as she received a standing ovation after her presentation. Now you might say, ok, so what…I have had standing ovations as well but still this was a very special mail for me. This lady till now avoided presentations at all costs. She made it a goal now to get out of her comfort zone and just do it. We had worked on presentations for small audiences but this week she spoke in front of 300 people. She had the courage to be vulnerable on stage and received a standing ovation in return. Respect!