Scaling Up Magazine Scaling Up Magazine April 2018 - Page 28

FOR SCALEUP Summit speaker Bill Hoogterp , author of Your Perfect Presentation , the path to a great public speaking career came about when he was just in his twenties . He was working with several nonprofit groups , presenting repeatedly to college groups on the topics of community service , hunger , and homelessness . When he began to reflect on his abilities as a speaker , he tried to evaluate his presentation ability objectively , rating his skill at about a four out of 10 . To his chagrin , with no source of feedback or coaching , he was only getting more comfortable in delivering his content — not necessarily getting better in any way .
Hoogterp looked deep within himself and made the emotional decision to train himself to be a better speaker . By focusing on the emotional aspect of his desire — and not just the intellectual — he was able to muster the patience and discipline he would need to analyze his weaknesses and do the work required to truly become better . While he never took a training class or read a manual in his effort to improve , he set out to “ invent , try and tweak new techniques ” each time he set foot on a college campus to deliver a talk . A couple of hundred colleges later , he began to improve .
“ I don ’ t think I have a great voice or even that much aptitude or charisma , but I made up for it in persistence ,” he says . When Hoogterp earned his first speaking fee —$ 100 — he was elated . The fees started climbing and he continued to improve , delivering his first commencement speech at Foothill College in California at the tender age of 23 . He ultimately became hooked on teaching others after being asked to help present an intensive training session to a client of the well-known executive trainer , Jim Mustacchia .
In 1999 , Hoogterp , the actor Andrew Shue and his childhood friend Michael
Sanchez launched CMI Marketing , the parent company of the wildly popular website , CafeMom . Based on a blend of humor , advice , storytelling and news contributed by moms everywhere , the site became part of CafeMedia , launching a variety of niche community sites and amassing a whopping one hundred million page views per month . After exiting the company in 2006 , Hoogterp turned his energy toward building his public speaking firm , Own the Room , together with his wife , Maria .
These days , Hoogterp is considered one of the best public speaking coaches in the industry —“ the best on the planet ,” according to past student Matteo Scaravelli , a vice president at Siemens . Through his business Own The Room , Hoogterp and his team of more than 50 coaches connect with thousands of executives each year , training them to lose their butterflies — which he refers to as “ trapped energy ”— and find a way to better connect with their audience . His clients have included representatives from technology superstars — such as Amazon , Facebook and Google — as well as companies in the financial services , healthcare , consumer products and media industries . While Hoogterp certainly does not claim that everyone he coaches will become the next Winston Churchill , he says he can help clients move from mediocre to good or from good to great .
Hoogterp and his team approach their public speaking training as a participative exercise , with what they consider their best coaches — video cameras , tablets and other technology — always in tow . They teach that one of the secrets to greatness is to “ get over yourself .” While this may sound blunt — as is Hoogterp ’ s style — it gets at the essence of realizing that the audience doesn ’ t care who the speaker is , and they certainly don ’ t care about you , per se . You are merely the vehicle through which a message they want to hear is being delivered . Once speakers can succeed in not caring about their audience ’ s perception of themselves , they can begin to lift the filter that exists between them and their audience and connect with them more authentically .
This is what he tells his participants : “ Do you know what happens when we put up our filters ? Those in the audience mirror us and put up their filters too . Now we have doubleblocked ourselves from the audience . Not to be too Zen about it , but when we try to send our energy out toward the audience , it instead bounces back off our own filter , creating that paralyzing feeling [ of stage fright ].”
It takes work to remove those barriers to effective communication , and Hoogterp will be the first to tell you that , although there are many shortcuts to improvement , you still have to put the work in . However , the presence of strong emotions behind your words , whether it is anger , passion , sympathy or any other feeling , can block out nervousness and surprise you with its sheer ability to empower you . Some of the techniques he teaches participants include voice modulation , using strong versus weak