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Our recent Touchstone Partners team meeting introduced researched theories and best practices that strengthen public speaking and presentation skills to optimize personal and organizational development. Critical conversations such as this emphasize our beliefs, commitment, and accountability for our roles in building an accomplished team, profound purpose at Touchstone, and the far-reaching impact we come to bear.

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
December 22, 2022

 Our Touchstone team met to discuss how researched theories and best practices inform developing ‘soft skills’ such as public speaking and the delivery of presentations, for optimal personal development, organizational behaviour, and business relationships. Sharing our views on vital topics such as this, highlights aspects of what makes Touchstone truly ‘Touchstone.’ Together, we aim to strengthen our three pillars, namely, our firm culture, our team, and ourselves, by visibly prioritizing the continuum around which we relate.

Opening remarks had the team debrief on recent in-house group presentations made on a variety of subjects in legal practice areas and sectors in industry. Comments and questions initiated covered conventions that enhance the quality and impact of such delivery. Personal strengths named presence, focused attention, and responsiveness as positive attributes in public speaking. Further defined, this is the ability to seamlessly “zoom in and out” of conversations through reading the room to synthesize presented information insightfully and efficiently, to easily construct the bigger picture, and to readily apply gleaned knowledge. Another suggestion identified incisive speaking where a “less is more” approach allows one to both listen attentively and to provide others with room to participate and contribute. Observations on style in delivery suggested, “storytelling,” to layer script with narrative. Using anecdotes, metaphors, examples, and visual aids that fit the context embellish conversations and presentations by being engaging, authentic, and relatable. Comments on visual formats included cutting down on an overload in slide text to redirect attention to the speaker and keep the audience actively engaged. The team debated when and how much time should be devoted to field questions, as in during or after a presentation.

The ensuing ‘Truly Touchstone,’ team building presentation on the subject coincided remarkably with these insights, sharing compiled findings from readings and research in innovative management science with video clips by experts. Constructing content through “storytelling,” is a running theme proposed by proficient leaders in the business of communication. We leaned on ideas shared from the Ted Talk format, curated by Chris Anderson who believes in, “telling a story by building an idea that’s worth sharing.” Anderson claims that “presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker,” and that messages must create value for the common good. Storytelling in business communication, as described by the acclaimed screenplay lecturer and author, Robert McKee, occurs at all levels within and outside a firm, with clients and stakeholders. Differentiating one’s position in the market requires authentic storytelling that present both the “positives and negatives,” weaving in the status quo with the resolution through a solution-oriented stance. Similarly, persuasive advertising shapes consumer habit and behaviour through story campaigns, promising how or why a product or service will change one’s life. Relating these ideas to our firm requires using more of the narrative structure to conduct all aspects of our business communication. Facts, bullet points, and a retelling approach serve ‘teleprompting,’ negating the power of story, for which the human mind is innately wired. Syncing the content in communication with techniques in delivery and non-verbal communication is key. We watched pertinent coaching tips through video demonstrations by Allison Shapira, from the Communications Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, U.S.A.

In conclusion, we reiterated the continuum along which we work together, highlighting the significance of developing communication and public speaking skills. Critical conversations such as this emphasize our beliefs, commitment, and accountability for our roles in building an accomplished team, profound purpose at Touchstone, and the far-reaching impact we come to bear.

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