Category Archives: Attract and hold the attention


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 ;-)

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!

invitation to my home…

casa SImply Talking 1

On May 8th I combine my 2 passions again: cooking and inspiring you for your next presentation. Topic is storytelling in business presentations!

I welcome you at 8:30 with breakfast, we start at 9:00, I share my ideas based on the interviews I did with CEOs and VPs to inspire you how to tell your story (short if high level). Please bring your laptop with a presentation you already did or we can work on a presentation you still need to do. I prefer to make this session as interactive as possible! You learn how to stay in control during your presentation, how to pitch, how to convince an audience, and what the most common mistakes are speakers make so you can prevent them.

We end at 12:30. But you cannot leave without a warm meal (last time it was my home made lasagne) and one of my chocolate desserts… Your investment is 300€ for this workshop. This session is limited to 8 people! You can mail me to enroll or ask more questions on

Is your company presentation a christmas tree or a story?

large_6604960497 I actually should have written this newsletter one month ago as I love to compare company presentations with christmas trees. What we tend to do is focus on detailed slides, like a brochure. And as we all know by now that visuals work in slides, we decorate the bullets with pictures, even clipart (still), pretty much like a christmas tree. But here’s a question for you: do you show and comment these slides when you present your company or do you have a story to tell??

I advise you to focus on a story and use your slides as backup to use them if needed during the discussion with your prospect. Of course, the first thing you will do is ask questions and get to know what their problem or question is though at one point you will have to tell your story. You should be able to tell that story in 1 minute, have a 5 minute version and sometimes it can be even a longer version.

Here is a guideline you can use for your 1 minute that is actually the basis for every longer presentation you would do:

  • Describe a situation, which often results in a complication
  • Ask the most important question linked to that situation
  • Give an answer, which is your core message

When your answer is a solution, end with the 3 most important reasons why this could be a solution for your prospect.
When your answer is a specific product or service, end your 1 minute with the 3 most important benefits for the customer of that product or service. 3 is a magical number, easy to memorize for you and memorable for your audience.

Don’t just focus on a agenda saying where you come from, how big your are, what your mission is. Focus on them, give them benefits, tell your story and prepare it well!



Workshop ‘pitch your idea’ on January 29

January 29 I organise a workshop at my home (Nieuwenhove, near Ninove) where I combine my 2 passions: presentation and cooking!

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The program looks like this:

  • I welcome you with a lovely breakfast
  • Based on the many interviews I did with CEOs you get ideas how to persuade a high level audience
  • You experiment with my ‘Simply Talking’ presentation model that works if you need to communicatie to 1 person, during a meeting, or even a big audience
  • For lunch I serve my home made lasagne (vegetarian version and meat version)
  • You receive personal feedback on your style and get ideas how to really connect with your audience
  • You don’t have to prepare anything, just bring your laptop and real presentations that you have already done
  • And you have to taste my chocolate pie before leaving (although I will provide fruit salad for the health addicts) ;-)

There are still some places left, price is 300€ for the whole day everything included. If you are interested, mail me at

You may need an expert for your live event!



I just read this article by Kyle Tanner and I absolutely want to share it with you as I agree with him 100%. I have seen too many speakers fail on stage because of lack of preparation. Please speakers on events, I love to guide you with your next presentation!!! Read the article of Kyle below…

‘A few weeks ago I was at a medical event. 4 days of pack filled presentations. I was responsible for making sure all imagery was going to screens. I was running 3 PC’s and 3 Macs and we had a tech running video playback.

I was amazed at how many “seasoned presenters” were handing me a thumb drive literally seconds before walking on stage. A few presentations were using special fonts, so those were not showing. A few presentations had linked videos, but the presenter could not find the original files. Some video files were embedded but with the wrong Codex (so basically useless) some presentations were 4:3 projecting to multiple 16:9 screens. Some presentations had audio clips (yet we never had a chance to check the levels).

If the techs don’t have time to preview your file(s) on their system, that’s when problems occur (the audience doesn’t care what your presentation looks like on your computer). When I get the file the day before, I can preview and makes sure videos are working, sizing is correct, volumes are good, etc. When I get the file as you hit the stage, every click forward is a new surprise for all of us, and I don’t like to rehearse in front of hundreds or thousands of people (aka your audience).

And, while I’m correcting slides, 2-3 slides ahead of the current slides on the screens, these “seasoned presenters” who have given this ‘same talk hundreds of times’ were taping me on the shoulder asking if they can change a few slides before they go on in 3 more minutes.

At some point (i.e. the flight to the event), you need to decide, this is my talk and this is my visual support, and I really don’t need to cause 99% of my stress over one detail out of 200 slides.

So if you want your next prefect presentation here are some ideas.

1 – You may be an expert CEO or brain surgeon, but you may need an expert to help you fine-tune your presentation! Yes PowerPoint & Keynote can be easy to use, but so is Word, but I do not consider myself a best selling author.

2 – You are at your event to give an amazing talk on your subject. Do you really need to be stressed the last 3 minutes before going on stage to make sure the right graphic flies in from the left edge or your special font is working?

3 – If you are an event planner, consider an amazing service to your Speakers. Provide a Speaker Ready room. I can tell you when I have been in the Speaker Ready Room, and its slow, I have spent hours with presenters fine tuning their presentation. 1 – It’s a must for an event with lots of files. 2 – It helps the speakers and the crew. 3 – It’s a great-added service for your Speakers (if you have a service oriented person wanting to help).

4 – Know the difference between a Graphic Designer who can create an amazing presentation, and a Graphic Operator who specializes in live events and can interface with the onsite video crew and engineers, to get you the best results possible.

If I can help you on your next event, please let me know. I truly do love to help people and being on the road. I’ve worked with Fortune 500’s, TV Networks, and small companies with presentations just as important.’

Do you really need PowerPoint?

I just witnessed an interesting converstation while waiting at a reception desk. 2 ladies just met their contact, and the latter proposes to have a coffee first and sit in a relaxed area. She even proposes to have the meeting there and asks ‘or do you really need to show a PowerPoint??…’ The other 2 ladies answer yes, they have prepared a PPT and their faces show apologies… Wouldn’t it be easier to have dialogues and conversations instead of monologues with PowerPoint?…

When you are enthusiastic, so is your audience


I just watched a live stream presentation of Jef Staes. Each time it strikes me how much fun he has on stage. He really wants the audience to understand his message and is enthusiastic to get that message across. I noticed the same thing a few months ago during TEDx Maastricht. When I drive home after such presentations I always ask myself which presentations sticks in my mind. For the ted presentation 2 came to my mind. Not because these were the best presenters as such, but these 2 speakers were the most enthusiastic.So show enthusiasm for your next presentation. High volume voice helps, coming close to your audience helps and telling stories (examples) helps!

e-Book on how to communicate with impact!

Presentation Tips from Presentation Coach Sylvie Verleye….After blogging and writing for 5 years on the topic of communicating with impact and presentations I decided last summer to share all my tips in an e-book. I had shared this free e-book after the summer break to everyone who had subscribed to my newsletter. As the feedback was so positive I have decided now to share it with everyone as a kind of New Year’s gift. Enjoy reading Presentation Tips from Presentation Coach Sylvie Verleye.

10 januari PowerPointloze dag!

Gezien januari de maand van de goede voornemens is, roep ik bij deze 10 januari uit tot PowerPointloze dag. De vraag is alleen, hoe kom je die dag door? Ik geef graag 3 tips:image


Stel je voor dat je een nieuwjaarspeech wil doen. Heb je echt die slides nodig om dat te doen? Zou het niet beter zijn om dicht bij het publiek te staan, geen zorgen om in het licht van de beamer te staan, geen nood om aan de kant naast het scherm te staan…gewoon dicht voor jouw publiek. Connecteer met hen, vertel vanuit concrete situaties die jou helpen jouw punt te maken. En als belangrijkste tip, hou het vooral kort!



Stel je voor dat je een vergadering hebt. Dat je een slide gebruikt om de agenda voor de vergadering duidelijk te maken, dat vind ik nog logisch. Dat je voor elke presentatie tijdens de vergadering slides nodig hebt daar wil ik graag even vragen bij stellen. Doorgaans zijn deze slides een discussiedocument, een handout document, dat vaak zelfs voor de vergadering verstuurd wordt. Tot zover, geen probleem. Mijn tip is om deze discussieslides ook enkel tijdens de discussie te gebruiken. Maar je kan pas een discussie voeren wanneer je eerst jouw punt duidelijk verwoordt. Mijn tip: projecteer de discussieslides, druk F5 om in de slideshow te zitten, en druk dan op Z voor zwart of B voor Black. Het scherm wordt zwart en nu kan je KORT vertellen wat je te vertellen hebt. Druk terug op Z of B om naar de slides te gaan tijdens de discussie.



Stel je voor dat je een presentatie van een half uur of langer doet voor een groter publiek….dan heb je echt een excuus om wel slides te gebruiken. ALLEEN, stel je bij de voorbereiding van de slides even voor dat er geen beamer beschikbaar is maar enkel een flipchart. Stel je voor wat je tijdens jouw verhaal zou tekenen of schrijven op die flipchart. Het resultaat is altijd meer eenvoud. Beschouw jouw slides als een ‘propere flipchart’. Teken dus jouw slides gebaseerd op een verhaal voor je PowerPoint opent!

Ik wens jullie schitterende presentaties in 2014!