Presentations: New Skills for a Seasoned Deal Dog
A Priceless Self-Development Course Filled with Insights & Fun
Sometimes I joke that I measure my work as a Dealmaker in dog years. And like most, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Admittedly, I’m captivated by the allure of accomplishing something complex and challenging. Each transaction journey provides me an opportunity for learning something new. Periodically though, this Deal Dog needs to step out of the race and into a classroom to sharpen his skills.
As I crunched my reading material for the weekend course, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve taken many courses in my career. From sports meditation with Zen Master George Mumford, who taught the Chicago Bulls how to meditate as a team, to self-development courses in interpersonal communications and creative writing. Each course has provided me at least one new tool, a new perspective and a nugget of wisdom to carry through life. I boarded the plane from Philadelphia to Atlanta, the setting for M&A Sources’ Course 600: Presentation Skills For M&A Professionals, and queried Self, “So why am I doing this again?”
My decision to take Course #600 had been quick — gut feel mixed with challenge. I wanted to be considered for an Instructor role, and gatekeeping was my first hurdle. That was easy. I signed up. Piece of cake, I thought. My business career started in sales with 3M Company, inventor of the 3M Thermo-Fax™ machine, which created transparency film for overhead projector presentations. My foundational pedigree had been tested now for over 40+ years of sales situations, role playing, demos and delivery. What new tips could an experienced Deal Dog like me pick up?
The course challenge was deftly delivered right at the onset and in only one word — ‘record’ (pronounced: Ree’-cord). In a gentle voice the Instructor delivered his statement to the class: “Over the next two days, we will record your presentations (plural).” BOOM! I heard nothing more. He had me at that one word. In an instant my competitive meter hit the redline scale. I was going to have to keep pace with my peer group pack! The challenge struck. The brain woke up. And immediately I scrambled into uber-creative mode, preparing to perform in front of my peers. The Deal Dog had accepted the crucible. With equal parts trepidation and excitement, the three-day journey began.
The curriculum took its voyage as planned. A clear destination, timeline and steps. Never straying off course for too long. Always setting the bar high for personal stretch. The Deal Dog in me kept jogging and following along. At times my paws were on the ground plowing through material. And at other times all fours went in the air for leaps of insight. Sometimes I was panting, sometimes reflecting, sometimes barking confidently and sometimes whimpering uncomfortably, unable to absorb any more. I would soon understand. It was all by design as a part of the talent development process.
As participants, we bonded in peer-groups comfortably. The common thread of the lessons reminded us we were on this learning journey together. Peer group performances became a safe, tell-the-truth M&A-version of The Voice, sharing our ‘live’ audience experiences. We laughed a lot and shared our reviews. Some of the best insight is what others see, and you cannot. Peer input and digital recording help you answer, ‘Did that really happen?’. I vividly recall two peer-group observations of my final presentation. And the digital recording confirmed it — I was a belt-buckle tugger. Adeptly, a peer also picked up that my eyes were wider when presenting than in one-to-one conversation. With humble appreciation I listened to these candid observations. The Deal Dog inside me knew the raw truth was valuable input to hone my capabilities.
Since our classroom practice, I learned that belt-buckle tugging is considered a speaker’s power leak, a distraction. Like filler words, your back to the audience, or reading the screen verbatim — the behavior takes away from presentation content and speaker delivery. It’s caused by a lack of confidence in some form, which can be eliminated by content knowledge and practicing aloud. That made sense to me, as I had not left enough time in my preparation for practicing aloud. Furthermore, body language experts suggest that eyes open wider, when we are around something that excites us. I could feel my ‘wide-eyed’ enthusiasm for each presentation, delivered to engage the audience and draw them in. These were two of a dozen or more valuable insights over the three-day weekend for even a seasoned Deal Dog to incorporate. The bar had been set and the inner stretch was accomplished.
I’m not going to spoil it for you by telling you all we did in three days. I can assure you the investment of time, energy and money were priceless. After a weekend of learning, you’ll wonder at how much detail you covered and what new tools are at your disposal. I would describe Course 600 as rewarding, insightful, fun, inspiring and career-influencing. Best of all, the peers you meet are exceptional professionals and good people.
A great deal of gratitude is due to Instructor Wayne Coleman, Assistant Instructors Robb Bingham, Monty Walker, Education Chair for MAS Pat McDonald, along with Laura Wright of MAS, who organized the venue and event. You are all professionals who nobly serve to educate others. To my fellow Deal Dogs: Always remember how much we learned from one another, especially when we laughed. Our time together is a keen reminder. Education is what remains after you’ve forgotten everything you learned. – Anon. This seasoned Deal Dog is a prime example.
Dave Wimer, CBI, M&AMI, CEPA is Sr. Vice President, Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, firstname.lastname@example.org. Since 2006 Dave has advised clients on the M&A process, exit planning, sudden exit situations, turnaround and executing strategic exit initiatives. His work has included companies with revenues up to $110 million and operating a Family Office overseeing operating assets with value in excess of $50 million. In 2014 he authored INSIGHT: Business Advice in an Age of Complexity, a story of his developmental journey from owner to advisor. His guidance has preserved and generated millions in enterprise value and cash flow for clients.