“Aerospace MBA Delegates have to be aware that what is important is not what they know; it’s how they let others know what they know”
Interview of Chris Creed*, expert speaker in the Aerospace MBA
Soft skills trainer, Chris Creed has worked for companies such as L’Oreal, Pierre Fabre, ATR and Airbus. He is today at the head of Active Learning Solutions, a company based in Toulouse, working throughout France and in the United Kingdom. His specialties: presenting, convincing and arguing effectively.
Since 2011, you have taught a module called “Effective Presentation Skills” for Aerospace MBA Delegates? What does that mean?
From my own experience of presenting to an audience of several hundred people, I developed a specific program, targeting development of cross cultural effective presentation skills.
I wanted to help people going through what I did. There are many different styles of presenting, it especially depends on culture. The idea is to move all kinds of people to a mode of being able to present a complete topic in a way that is adapted to the audience in front of them. The context is the MCTP -multi cultural team project-, which runs for all of the MBA Delegates, every year. It consists of a presentation made by a team composed of people from very different culture, who have to present a project as a team, not as a collection of individuals. The MBA participants also have numerous individual presentations to deliver throughout the MBA course – this helps them be more effective for those presentations too.
What are the aims of your sessions?
In fact, the object of the course is to get the Delegates to deliver amazing presentations, in harmony. They have to learn to understand their audience and grab and maintain the attention of every one in the room, whether they are from a technical background or not.
The challenge? To get participants to change. Challenging but achievable targets. The average age of the MBA Delegates is 37 years old; these people know what they are doing, they know their jobs, they have made presentations before. They are very smart and intelligent people, but they have to keep firmly in mind that what is important is not what they know, it’s how they let others know what they know.
What is your pedagogical approach?
If I was just to stand up and say “well you know, you need to change”, it will never happen. So I use extensive self-evaluations tools. I film the participants and let them see how they appear to their audience, I encourage the feedback of the team, without judgment. Many people are stressed at the idea of delivering a presentation – my message is: “stress is a good thing, anxiety is not”. My job consists of helping Delegates manage to transform anxiety into positive stress, which is energy. At the end of the course, some participants and teams did not deliver just good, but exceptional presentations, and they get to the point where they enjoy doing presentations.
How is your class organized?
I see the Delegates several times for the training, and half a day for the MCTP towards the end of the course. The training sessions start at the beginning of the year and take place until just before the MCTP. The Delegates are divided into groups of 6 people maximum (any more and it would dilute the effectiveness of the course), the training is centered and adapted to each group.
Which achievements and outcomes are expected for the participants?
The soft skills development is a pillar of the MBA. It helps delegates in their transformation within the program, to prepare them for their future careers and leadership: to be brilliant and effective leaders, and they cannot be brilliant and effective leaders unless they are able to inspire, influence and enthuse others – that is what Effective Cross-Cultural Presentation Skills is all about.
*Chris Creed is currently writing a book on Effective Cross-cultural Presentations: “Better than before – Deliver presentations that influence, inspire and convince your audience.” To be published in January 2019 through CreateSpace