Growing up in the seaside town of Pacifica, CA, I discovered the power of empathy through acting. Mr. Stuart, my fifth-grade drama teacher, loved to stretch my imagination with roles like Scrooge, Hamlet and Captain Hook in school plays. You can learn a lot by stepping into someone else's shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Little did I know how valuable empathy could be down the road to understand how customers think and feel.
As a Presentation Strategist, it's a joy to help thousands of leaders shape and deliver bold ideas. They inspire me with how they think about a world alive with fresh possibilities.
Some are investment managers presenting portfolio strategy with warmth and conviction. Others are business executives passionately communicating how A.I. will augment, not replace humans. And there's my favorite legendary athlete turned entrepreneur who continues to awe global audiences with humor, wit and leadership insight.
Building authentic connection in our data-rich world is hard, especially when attention spans are shrinking. A 2016 study by Microsoft reminds us that the average attention span is 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. Helping presenters capture audience attention with data-driven messaging is an adrenaline rush.
Some CEO clients think of me as their invisible symphony conductor guiding team members to present in perfect harmony. Entrepreneurs sometimes think of me as a Thought Partner in a creative process to help them communicate how technology is transforming how we live, work and think. They trust I'm in their corner to help them see and fix blind spots with compassion and gentle honesty. What some of these leaders may not know is I can see them command the room before they actually do. Watching their transformation unfold makes my heart leap.
As a professional actor, I love sharing what I've learned over the years to help leaders build emotional connection with diverse stakeholders. For analytical thinkers (portfolio managers, data scientists, researchers and engineers might fit this profile), theatrical exercises can get them out of their head and speaking from the heart. A good day is when a presenter achieves breakthrough as an inspiring thought leader. A great day is when a CEO presents to win confidence from her company's Board of Directors. These beautiful moments are magical.
As Thomas Edison reminds us, "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."