Ursula Errington discusses Hard Truth Media’s new service to help with presentation skills
When you run a small business you are often told to celebrate the milestones, be they big or small.
Last week the team at Hard Truth Media celebrated an important moment – the launch of the pay-as-you-go facility enabling anyone to use our reVIEW™ who needs support on speech and presentation skills.
service. It’s important to me, not only because it adds to Hard Truth’s diverse offering, but because it enables us to work with and help anyone who is trying to better the way they communicate; someone looking for a longed-for promotion, a leader trying to convey themselves authentically or perhaps a new joiner looking to make the right impression from the get-go.
Helping enhance presentation skills
We now have a way to empower professionals to take their communication and presentation skills development into their own hands – they might choose to share their feedback and journey of improvement with their boss or HR/L&D department, or they might decide to keep it entirely private and simply show up and deliver, leaving everyone impressed. I love that it puts people back in control of a situation that can often be uncomfortable and at worst damage their confidence and their prospects irreparably.
I had the idea for reVIEW™ nearly four years ago. I was working with a CEO who had a typically crazy schedule and I was having trouble scheduling even 40 minutes with him to work on the delivery of a speech I had written for him. I was pleased with the speech – it was creative, powerful and had strong key messages and I was keen to help him to deliver it to best effect. The high-profile event was just days away and yet the conversation I was having with his Chief-of-Staff went something like this:
CoS: “Okay, so you could look at the opening three paragraphs tomorrow between 1100 and 1115 while he is in the car on his way to a meeting”
Me: “Right, OK, can it be a video call so I can see how he is using his body?”
CoS: “Maybe – I’ll have to see what’s possible. Then he has an opening the next day for 30 minutes so you can see how much you can get done then?”
I felt dismay. A charismatic, high-potential CEO was going to deliver an ‘OK speech’ rather than a ‘great speech’ through lack of prep. I filmed myself delivering the speech so he could watch it when travelling and memorise sections of it as far as possible (obviously I urged him not to ‘do’ me but make it his own – but this method is always helpful to show the speaker how to use pausing, emphasis and pacing to drive the story).
A service you can use anytime, anywhere
It occurred to me that I needed him to go through it just once, at a time convenient for him and send me the footage. I could then give him my video feedback intercut with his footage, so he was getting precise interventions at relevant moments and I could send the whole piece back to him for him to download and watch whenever he wanted to – in the bath, on the move or running on his treadmill. I could be in his ear without being in his schedule. We tried it for the next speech and he loved it. Interactions could be more frequent but just as tailored – he felt like he was speaking to me all the time for guidance and steer on his speech and presentation skills. I realised this was something with wide appeal. And so reVIEW™ was born.
We have focused on two features for reVIEW™ that I won’t compromise on:
- The footage never leaves the client’s secure area on the platform (so it never gets downloaded onto someone else’s computer). The Trainer logs in and analyses and critiques the upload in the client’s account space – only the client can download their footage and the final edit with the critique inter-spliced – all the video editing happens on the cloud-based platform.
- The Trainers giving the feedback are broadcast journalists with at least 5 years of on-air experience. This would be an easy principle to compromise – we speak to lots of trainers who are voice coaches, actors or body language experts who would like to work with us but I feel strongly that TV news correspondents know how to tell a story under pressure, they understand what it is like to have little preparation time, so they have the skills to deliver with impact without rehearsal and they understand how to structure content and really get stuck into messaging. This means the tool is not just about vocal technique, body language and technical excellence – it enables them to question the structure of the speech or presentation, question the premise or motivation and suggest proof points to strengthen the narrative.
Initially, we focused on bringing reVIEW™ to our corporate clients who wanted to offer the facility to specific leaders and in some cases whole teams within their organisations but there was always one individual from a different team or from a small company who wanted to use the service, particularly with the rise of remote working throughout 2020 – and so the ‘pay-as-you-go’ option was developed.
I’m excited for the future. I have big plans for reVIEW™ – quantitative evaluation for one-off users, as well as providing the service in multiple languages (coming soon in French, Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic). The platform will continue to be developed too, with more bespoke features and community benefits. There is much still to do but it’s out there for anyone to use and the possibilities are pretty much endless – we are going to have a lot of fun with this.
I am indebted to Katy Wakefield who has taken this vision and used her extensive project management skills to bring this to fruition alongside me. She has pushed me, held me to account and has been unafraid to tell me when my more harebrained ideas are off-the-mark (really diplomatically!) Thank you, Katy, you make this journey fun and it’s a joy to work with someone who just ‘gets it’. I cant wait to have our meetings in person again soon.
So check out reVIEW,™ if you think if there is someone in your life who might benefit from a gift voucher or perhaps you have been wanting some support with an important upcoming presentation or virtual conference speech but don’t want to schedule a live consultation or have to perform for a stranger when you are not quite ready. This is for you. We can help enhance those presentations skills for you!