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Peter Cardon – Speaking and Presenting with Authenticity

Peter Cardon and Jennifer Severa

HSC WIM Professional Development with Peter Cardon
“Speaking and Presenting with Authenticity”
May 18, 2015

Peter Cardon, MBA, PhD, spoke to WIM members about “Speaking and Presenting with Authenticity” over lunch on May 18. Cardon began the presentation with a video clip of the national wrestling champion Andy Robles in action. He then asked for members to respond to what they saw. The wrestler, though missing one leg, used his upper body strength to pin down his opponent. He used his strength to his advantage. Cardon said that is what every speaker, every leader, must do—play to her strengths.

Every person has a unique set of strengths. They define one person from another. Acknowledging and employing these strengths is the first step to becoming an effective and authentic speaker. The next important factor is opening up and connecting with the audience. Cardon mentioned that many times he will watch a student converse openly with other classmates but the moment she steps up to deliver her speech she becomes stiff. Cardon referenced the Wall Street Journal article, “Use Stress to your Advantage,” noting that it is important to embrace the anxiety, the adrenaline, that comes naturally before a presentation. Do not try to fight it. He went on to discuss the importance of responding to the audience in front of you. Note the person in the red coat, or the laughter generated by what has just been said.

However, eye contact and responding to the audience alone is not enough. The speaker has to have a passion for the topic that is being presented. If the speaker is not passionate about a topic, there is no way that the audience will be drawn in to care about the topic either. In addition, it is important to also reveal something about one’s self: a story, a moment of fear, joy, of real life, that the audience can connect and relate to. In speaking, as in writing, the strength is in telling the truth of the matter.

Cardon shared two video clips of strong female leaders in action: IBM’s Ginna Rommety (“A New Era of Value: A Conversation with Ginna Rommety, NRF 2014 Keynote”) and Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra K. Nooyi (Address to the Economic Club of Washington). Each woman had her own style, however, each used the traits of an effective and authentic speaker. She connected and responded to the audience. She played to her strengths. She spoke with passion about the subject and revealed herself with personal moments that the audience too could relate to on a more personal, human level.

WIM members were asked to consider the following questions:

1. What is one of your strengths (with a focus on a positive and valued trait) that you rarely employ when you present to others? Why?
2. What is one of your strengths that you use often in presentations that you could pair with another trait to position you even better? Explain.
3. What narrative about yourself can you reveal to others that will position you to present more effectively?

The hour came to a close and Cardon concluded: “All of this takes practice.” He said that the most effective way to improve presentation skills is to videotape one’s self in action. Cardon said that emerging technology will require that leaders speak with authenticity. In the future, leaders will be expected to deliver video blogs rather than written memos. A person’s ability to speak with authenticity will determine her success.
By Kristine Hren Moe