7

chapters

126

images

269

pages

20

years experience

Book Chapters

find your downloads and references for each chapter

How to structure talks

This chapter covers all of the essential elements that need to be considered before you start delivering to an audience. This includes how to structure a presentation, overcoming common mistakes and the best way to use technology.

  Chapter 1 + Introduction

How to present with impact

This chapter looks at the elements that influence the impression other people get of you as a speaker. Starting with the importance of your attitude, the chapter goes on to look at the impact of body language.

  Chapter 2

How to create engagement in groups

This chapter is all about how to become unique and memorable in the way you present material. You will learn ways to involve the audience in your presentation as well as techniques to become more charismatic as a speaker.

  Chapter 3

Facilitation skills

This chapter looks at the critical skill of facilitation, often overlooked as a core leadership competency. Techniques of great facilitators are explored. How to engage your audience by building strong context.

  Chapter 4

How to inspire others

All leaders aspire to be inspirational in the way they communicate, this chapter breaks down the subject of inspiration in three strategies you can learn to use to truly inspire your audience.

  Chapter 5

How to handle questions and disruptions

Whether by design or not, your audience will inevitably ask questions. Very often, these questions can be provocative and challenging. Your ability to answer these questions in a clear and professional manner will dictate, how credible and influential you are as speaker.

  Chapter 6

How to use technology

The most obvious technology for a speaker is an electronic slide show. But slides are rarely the most engaging tool for a speaker. This chapter covers all of the creative technologies that you can use to be more interesting, engaging and dynamic.

  Chapter 7

Buy it now! This book will transform your work life.

Get your copy

Reader Reviews

inspiring testimonials from readers

Professor Steven West - Vice-Chancellor and President

 of Bristol UWE

Professor Steven West - Vice-Chancellor and President

 of Bristol UWE

In the words of Simon Cowell, "I don't like it...I love it!



" Once in a blue moon a book comes across my desk which really does engage me. I have been a leader for many many years. My main role is to lead a large University (30,000 students and 4500 staff). It's big and complex and full of very bright people. The trick has been to harness their creative and innovative power to help drive not only their agendas forward but those of the university. As ever the goal is to engage, align and deliver an outcome far greater than the sum of the individual parts. I've never thought about before but it is about harnessing the Corporate Energy through inspiring others. This book is engaging, informative and above all makes you question and think about what you are doing and how you might be perceived by others as you do it! It's a great blend of practical solutions and approaches supported by case studies and resources. It's a guide to be dipped in and out of. I think it would appeal to new leaders and managers as well as some seasoned, old battled scarred leaders, looking to refresh and rethink their approaches. Something for everyone!

R MacKinnon - Headmaster of Bristol Grammar School

Packed full of practical guidance, referencing academic research and a wealth of first-hand experience, Chris Atkinson's book reassures, as it educates, as it inspires. We are reminded of what we partially know but have lacked the understanding to appreciate fully. We are also introduced to new appreciations of the power of communication and how it works. I enjoyed this brilliantly clear, complete and accessible guide to communicating to best effect. Far and away THE most accessible, complete and authoritative guide to effective communication I have seen.

R MacKinnon - Headmaster of Bristol Grammar School
D Clifford - Director of Learning, Talent & Performance at The Brinks Company

D Clifford - Director of Learning, Talent & Performance at The Brinks Company

This is a fantastic resource and toolkit for anyone who currently presents or needs to present ANYTHING. It is a very insightful look at why we are sometimes not as effective as we want to be as well as being full of handy tips, hints and tricks to make a much more impactful communication style. Not only food for thought but also sustenance to keep us growing and improving.

Irene Becker, Just Coach It CEO

Chris Atkinson’s book, Corporate Energy is a must read for leaders and managers who want to succeed in a diverse and connected economy. The book is both impressive in its breadth while also offering practical insights and tips on communication, presentation skills and engagement from an international speaker and trainer who has worked across the globe. Buy this book for yourself and your team. You will not be disappointed.

Irene Becker,  Just Coach It CEO
B Fox - Global HR Director at Innovia Films Ltd

B Fox - Global HR Director at Innovia Films Ltd

People are what drive an organisation. Outside of work people give time and unique expertise (completely free of charge) to a range of activities. Great companies ‘get this’ and ensure that they develop a culture of true engagement, whereby when walking through the factory gate or office door, people feel inspired AND empowered to contribute to their maximum ability using all of their skills sets and expertise. What is key to this is the alignment of people, achieved through ultra-clear, effective and authentic communication. In this book Chris captures so many of the components that make communications work. In a practical way he describes how to optimise each and every opportunity you have to communicate with your teams to ensure understanding and alignment. In turn that creates the positive Corporate Energy needed to drive true engagement. This is a really useful book and one that can be referred to again and again. Keep it close by!

Dr. Daniel Park - Editorial Advisory Council of the Harvard Business Review

This is a really practical guide that will be a useful to anyone who has to interact with a variety of audiences.

Dr. Daniel Park - Editorial Advisory Council of the Harvard Business Review
Huw Lewis MBE - Managing Director of Motivational Preparation College for Training

Huw Lewis MBE - Managing Director of Motivational Preparation College for Training

As a Managing Director for a company with over 100 staff spread over the entire UK, I have worked extremely hard over the last 17 years to engage, motivate and educate my staff to achieve the company cause. Therefore, when I was given the opportunity to read Chris Atkinson’s book Corporate Energy, I was delighted to have the chance to learn about the skills and techniques to inspire individuals and groups to be their very best. This book not only talks directly to its audience but also has the depth of knowledge to create a positive impact immediately. Corporate Energy should become a field book for EVERY inspiring executive who wants to connect and communicate a company vision and their values in an effective, professional and motivational manner.

Christele Canard – Founder of Switched On Leadership Magazine

An insightful and comprehensive guide to help you inspire, engage and connect with your audience. From structuring your presentation for impact, to using technology effectively, Chris Atkinson has got it covered. Filled with practical tips and techniques to not only energise your speech, but also your audience. This book is a must-read for those wanting to stand out and make an impact.

Christele Canard –  Founder of Switched On Leadership Magazine
Paul Tuck - Former Global Head of Talent of a Blue Chip Company

Paul Tuck - Former Global Head of Talent of a Blue Chip Company

This is a great read. It is informative, not just as a ‘how to’ manual full of detail on communicating with impact, but also as a ‘why to’ guide to understanding the reasons for engaging your people. Chris has managed to strike the right tone for ‘first timer’ presentation tips whilst providing a great refresher for the more experienced communicator – a reminder to stay alert and engage with your audience in order to inspire them.

April Donnelly - Lead Communication Partner of Zurich Insurance Company Ltd

The days of painful presentations should be put firmly behind us, employees simply deserve better. This book gives every speaker the tools they need to deliver in style.

April Donnelly - Lead Communication Partner of Zurich Insurance Company Ltd
Edda Björgvinsdóttir - International Speaker, Actress, Comedian, Writer and Director

Edda Björgvinsdóttir - International Speaker, Actress, Comedian, Writer and Director

This book is amazing! Wow - now at last I have something to back up what I am trying to teach all speakers. You capture the facts in very simple and very understandable sentences. I loved it!

Sameer Hasan - General Manager - Crown Emirates Co Ltd

Corporate Energy is at the very least very well presented and at its best extremely engaging. I have come out of the book, a better informed manager. The colourful layout impresses by its structure and ease of approach. I liked the summary sections, the impact they create is very much in line what you describe as a success in "recency". Your repeated encouragement to move away from PowerPoint and similar software and to rely more on other visual media is something that I fully endorse and have been trying to inculcate in myself and my colleagues. I also enjoyed the eye opener about relevance and context - this topic hit me hard and opened up an area where I now am sure I have always failed to distinguish. The cherry on the cake however for me was Chapter 5 on inspiration. There were a lot of eye openers and thankfully a lot of reaffirmation of things that I am doing right! All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read - thank you Chris for the opportunity to delve into your world of engagement and giving me many take aways that will hopefully guide me to better leadership!

Sameer Hasan - General Manager - Crown Emirates Co Ltd

Free Samples

check out some sample pages from the book

Scroll the tablet and check out some chapter content


Chapter 1

1.3 One structure to rule them all

There is a surprising amount written about how to structure presentations. In an attempt to engage their audience, many people (wrongly) assume that the solution can be found in the right structure. Whilst having the right structure is certainly very important, ultimately you have the greatest impact on how much an audience engages. Your priority is yourself; your style and your delivery.

That said, the structure you choose can make your life easier or harder. The most well-known presentation structure is: Tell them what you are going to tell them, and then tell them, and then tell them what you have told them. This is actually a reasonable principle and a good starting point, but I will go one better.

There is one structure whose simplicity belies its potency and effectiveness. This structure can form the basic template to create powerful presentations. I call this the OMEC model:

Image 4 OMEC

Perhaps you think this structure seems rather obvious. If we look a little deeper into the theory behind it, we can see how the vast majority of mistakes made by presenters can be seen in this structure. In addition, when done correctly, a few tips and tricks can ensure the structure also provides a significant ‘wow factor’.

Chapter 1

1.3 One structure to rule them all

There is a surprising amount written about how to structure presentations. In an attempt to engage their audience, many people (wrongly) assume that the solution can be found in the right structure. Whilst having the right structure is certainly very important, ultimately you have the greatest impact on how much an audience engages. Your priority is yourself; your style and your delivery.

That said, the structure you choose can make your life easier or harder. The most well-known presentation structure is: Tell them what you are going to tell them, and then tell them, and then tell them what you have told them. This is actually a reasonable principle and a good starting point, but I will go one better.

There is one structure whose simplicity belies its potency and effectiveness. This structure can form the basic template to create powerful presentations. I call this the OMEC model:

Image 4 OMEC

Perhaps you think this structure seems rather obvious. If we look a little deeper into the theory behind it, we can see how the vast majority of mistakes made by presenters can be seen in this structure. In addition, when done correctly, a few tips and tricks can ensure the structure also provides a significant ‘wow factor’.

Chapter 2

2.3 What to do with your hands and feet

So here’s a strange thing: how often in ‘normal life’ (chatting to friends, going out, working etc.) do you become self-conscious or uncomfortable about what to do with your hands and feet? I’m guessing the answer is hardly ever! One of the marvellous things about our biology is our brain’s ability to take care of these things without our conscious awareness.

Unfortunately, that all changes when we stand up in front of people. Sadly, under these circumstances, our conscious brain performs staggeringly worse than our unconscious brain. Most people immediately become ‘self’ conscious; we become far more aware of our body and how it looks. As a result, quite suddenly, our hands and legs can become quite awkward, we shuffle around on our feet, adopt unusual poses and hold our hands in various positions in an attempt to alleviate our discomfort.

Keeping the previous chapters in mind, we know that it is critical that your body language and words are in agreement, so let’s address this issue. The good news is that it is a straightforward fix. There is an overwhelming preference by audiences about how they want speakers to stand and speak. You will see this posture in most good presentation technique and body language books. Quite simply, you should stand with your feet about a shoulder width apart, with your hips central, your hands to your sides and your head looking forward towards your audience, as shown below:

Image 2.4parking-01

From this point on I will refer to this posture as ‘the parking position’ because it is rather like parking a car. When you are not driving, you put the gear stick in neutral. This posture is your ‘neutral’, so when you are not using a part of your body to present you ‘park it’ in this position.

Reassuringly, textbooks and professionals are all in agreement on this posture. I have found, however, that all major books on the subject miss out one critical piece of information. This simple omission has negatively affected the millions of people worldwide who have been given this (correct) advice on effective body language. The missing information is this:

It will FEEL wrong!!

Chapter 3

3.4 Using props and presenting technology to create impact

The use of props to create impact is a fading art and I think this is a huge loss. As slides increasingly dominate our communication we have lost sight of alternative means of presenting information. In this chapter I refer to props, stationery and kit as ‘technology’ because this is the technology of an engaging speaker. Slides are not the only technology you can employ. Chapter 7 covers this subject in depth and provides examples of the other non-digital presenting technologies available.

Image 3.4-01

When you are creating your presentation, always think about how you can bring the content from the digital world into the real world. In other words, find ways to transpose the ideas on your screen into things your audience can physically see or touch. For example, use models of products or prototypes, or bring along actual machinery, components or tools. All of these things will appeal to the bodily kinaesthetic people as well as being generally interesting!

You can also think in terms of analogy. Your use of props does not need to be literal; you can use props which illustrate an analogy to your subject matter. Think about what other everyday object or experience is similar to your topic. If you are running a creativity session about how to grab the attention of passers-by at a recruitment fair, you might hand out cereal boxes and ask your audience to assess how the boxes are designed to grab attention (or glossy magazines and so on). If you are talking about teamwork, you could introduce various pieces of sporting equipment to prompt discussion about how different types of team work together to perform most effectively. Finally, you can use posters and illustrations. This may seem unnecessary or wasteful, but a printed poster is considerably more memorable and interesting to an audience than a slide which is shown for just a few seconds. Digital information is perceived as transient; tangible information holds more weight and will be remembered for much longer.

Be brave and find or create props to bring along to the session to facilitate discussion. It is more engaging for your audience and it shows the thought you have put into your presentation. Which links us neatly into our next subject, showmanship…

Chapter 4

4.1 Listening skills

Much has been written about the art of listening, and there are many resources available on this subject, but from experience I know people tend to gloss over sections on listening because they assume there is little to learn about such a straightforward subject. If the subject intrigues you, there are lots of additional tips and resources available on line which can be found by searching for ‘active listening’.

The most important point about developing your listening skills is that, far from being a very natural skill, you have to make a conscious and deliberate effort to listen. Yes, of course you hear naturally, but hearing isn’t the same as listening. You hear things naturally in a passive way, letting the sound fall onto your ears. The process of listening requires much more effort, which is why most people refer to the skill as ‘active listening’. When facilitating, it is important you never assume you are listening; you must always be focused on really listening to:

  • What is being said (language used)
  • How it is being said (mood, attitude, emotions)
  • What is not being said (hesitancies, omissions, inconsistencies)

Image 4.2-01

If you accept that listening is a skill, then you must also accept that it is something you can practise and that by practising you will improve. For that reason you must dedicate yourself to practising and developing your ability to listen. Many people I work with are offended when I tell them this. The idea that they are not already accomplished in what they perceive to be such a simple thing can feel patronising, but it mustn’t. The more effort and focus you put into your listening the better you will get; the better your listening the better you will be as a facilitator (or as coach, leader, salesperson, consultant and many other roles that require excellent listening skills).

Chapter 5

5.2 Showing authenticity

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Dr. Brené Brown

How inspirational we are as a speaker is largely down to authenticity. As articulated so wonderfully by Dr Brené Brown, it is about how genuine you are when you speak and how much comes from the heart. The more authentic you are the more likely you are to inspire others. This is the good news: to be more inspirational you actually have to do less.

This might sound easy, but researchers have recognised the huge challenges leaders face when trying to become more authentic. Many leaders try to act a certain way at work, with their ‘true’ personality only emerging outside of work in personal situations and relationships. For most, this professional mask has become such a normal part of their role that they are no longer aware of it, nor do they realise how much emotional effort is committed to maintaining it.

Image 5.2-01

We pay a heavy price for this dichotomy of personality. In his article Leaders, Drop Your Masks, published in Harvard Business Review, Peter Fuda writes:

“There are two main ways in which leaders wear masks. Some conceal their perceived inadequacies behind the polished facade we have come to expect of “great” leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical The Phantom of the Opera. Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask, who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero. Both types of mask undermine trust and effectiveness. They also create inner conflict, as leaders struggle to align their work and private lives.”

It’s widely recognised that we are experiencing a crisis of trust in society. Scandals, excesses of greed and shocking revelations have destroyed much of our trust in politicians, leaders and figures of authority. The increasing importance of authenticity is a clear response to this situation, even to the extent that it has become the subject of high level journalism and research. Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones discuss this in Managing Authenticity: The Paradox of Great Leadership:

“It is also a response to the public’s widespread disenchantment with politicians and business people. We all suspect that we’re being duped…Our growing dissatisfaction with sleek, airbrushed leadership is what makes authenticity such a desirable quality in today’s corporations — a quality that, unfortunately, is in short supply.”

Image 5.3-01

Goffee and Jones have published some of the most powerful and clearly articulated work on leadership and I emphatically encourage you to read their articles and papers. Authenticity is directly related to trust: when we are authentic people trust us. When people trust us they listen openly and without suspicion or filters. Once your audience is willing to receive your communication in this way, all you need to do is speak from the heart with clear emotional content and your feelings will be transmitted. This is the process that sits behind inspiration.

Chapter 6

6.6 Overcoming silence

There may come a time when you open a Q&A session only to be met with total silence. So what do you do when there are (apparently) no questions? Well before we go further let’s be absolutely clear, silence does not mean there aren’t questions in the audience’s mind. Various social and environmental factors can cause silence. We have already discussed how valuable this portion of our presentation is so we simply can’t skip past it. It is therefore the presenter’s responsibility to ensure the Q&A gets started by fully engaging the audience.

Image 6.7 - Copy-01

The most common error that causes a silence is the way the speaker opens the Q&A period. In chapter 6.2 I introduced you to the main culprit which is a closed question such as “does anyone have a question?” Invariably if you have a shy or quiet audience they will take the easiest and most comfortable answer to that question which is to either mentally (silently) or actually answer ‘no’.

This closed question is often accompanied by two things:

  • A tone of voice that suggests there shouldn’t be any questions or that questions aren’t expected
  • A too short pause after asking the question, not allowing people to think and then ask a question

You must learn to use the phrase “Who has the first question?” This is by far the best way to open and has an implication that questions are expected. Having asked this open question, the presenter must now muster all their confidence to withstand the silence that follows. Nine times out of ten, if you hold your nerve for long enough the audience will break the discomfort of the silence by asking a question. Sticking with this silence for long enough can be a real test of your self-confidence but it is worth it because once the first question has been asked you will often find the Q&A period will then flow naturally (“Who has the next question?”).

If you are working in an organisational culture where people feel less free to talk openly or might have concerns about saying what is on their mind, then you may find that even with the discomfort of the silence the audience still don’t volunteer a question. As a presenter normally after asking “who has my first question?” I wait until I feel uneasy with the silence, then count to five slowly. If at that point no one has said anything I can conclude one of two things, i) there are no questions, or ii) the audience (for whatever reason) don’t feel comfortable to ask a question. Once again I would emphasise that Q&A is too important to assume the reason is the first point, especially if there is some possibility of the second! We therefore may need to get the process ‘jump started’ and demonstrate to the audience that it is a safe and comfortable environment to ask questions. The technique you can use is to ask your own question by saying “one thing I’m often asked” or “a question I thought you’d ask”. You then proceed to ask yourself a question, make sure the question you ask yourself is something that is interesting, real and potentially challenging. This emphasises to the audience the level to which they can ask questions. If you ask yourself a tough question do make sure to prepare a strong answer!! You would look pretty foolish if you asked yourself a question you couldn’t answer wonderfully.

About the Author

introducing the author of Corporate Energy

Author career and biography

Chris is an international business speaker and author who combines a strong commercial approach with a deep understanding of human psychology. He has qualifications in the fields of psychology and counselling from the University of Bristol, UK.

Starting his speaking career in 2001, Chris has now worked with diverse business sectors in over 22 countries worldwide with more than 43 different nationalities. He has spoken in front of an estimated 30,000 people worldwide.

He is renowned as a speaker, master trainer and facilitator who specialises in audience engagement, organisational culture and inspiring leadership.

Chris has been featured on the front covers of international publications; Realizing Leadership Magazine and Switched On Leadership Magazine. He has also written numerous magazine articles with a readership covering the UK, Europe, North America and Australia.

He is a visiting fellow of the business school of the University of South Wales.

Personal motivations

I believe to spend our lives feeling unhappy or disengaged in our work is insanity. There are people all over the world with far less than most of us will ever experience and yet lifetime happiness is often the same or greater than in developed countries. Happiness and engagement in work is not a function of wealth, seniority or privilege – it is a function of attitude. WE create organisations and structures which drain the raw potential of our colleagues and ultimately damage both business and productivity. Stop this! You can create engagement where you work, YOU can make a difference.

Through better understanding of each other and through the courage to break free from historical patterns of organisational behaviour, we are seeing organisations across the world flourishing and growing at incredible rates. Attitudes to work, life and leadership are changing - we need to change the way we think before we get left behind!


Prices

book options

Limited Edition Print

£14.99

  • Signed by author
  • High quality colours
  • Limited edition covers

Amazon UK

£14.99

  • Free delivery
  • Full colour
  • Packed with illustrations

Kindle Edition

£9.49

  • Full Colour
  • All illustrations included
  • Direct hyperlinks for references

Book Depository - Global

£14.99

  • FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY
  • Full Color
  • Packed with illustrations