Darragh Madden: ‘I would absolutely recommend the course to others. There are a lot of different courses of this nature out there, but I think this one is the most useful.' Salesforce Director of Solution Engineering Darragh Madden decided to do the Smurfit Executive Development Communicating for Results course to sharpen up his presentation and other skills after an extended period of remote working.

“The pandemic meant that everyone was working from home for a very long time,” he says. “There are specific ways of presenting in an online format and it’s a very different style than doing it in person. I deliberately waited until the spring of this year to do a course. I purposely decided not to do an online course. I was looking for a way of getting back into presentations through an in-person course.”

He has been with Salesforce for the past eight years and leads a team of 30 people which covers the UK market. “Presenting to colleagues and customers is a key part of the role,” he says. “In person presentations went from being a key part of what I was doing to just about zero almost overnight due to the pandemic. Presenting skills can be very easy to forget. I wanted to warm up those muscles and refresh the skills and knowledge that I might have forgotten during the pandemic. The practical approach taken by the Communicating for Results course was very important to me. I wanted the in-person experience in the classroom.”

That practical approach involves a blend of communications theory, interactive presentations, and discussions. During the three-day course, participants learn how the combination of compelling content along with emotion, purpose, vocal tone, physical and virtual presence can impact, influence, and inspire people. Practical tools and techniques are coupled with opportunities to present with feedback to ensure that participants take their existing skills to a higher level.

Darragh learned about the course as a result of his previous experience at UCD Smurfit School. “I did the Masters in Technology Management at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in 2010,” he explains. “Since then, I have done Smurfit Executive Development short courses including Leading for High Impact Results. That’s how I heard about this one. It was one of the first courses to open for in-person education when the public health restrictions ended.”

The course met and exceeded his expectations. “It was fantastic,” he says. “The first thing that struck me was that being in a room with more than 20 other participants was a great opportunity to network again and talk to people and learn about what they did in their roles. We had to present within the first hour. I found that quite daunting as was I wasn’t used to it anymore. But it was a safe space to get back into doing it. Barbara Moynihan is a great facilitator. She explained that it was a practical course and we would be doing that every day. The course doesn’t just look at skills in isolation or in theory. I was slightly nervous at first because I was a bit rusty. We had to present on a topic given to us just a few minutes before. After that we would sit down and discuss it with the group and get good, honest, constructive feedback.”

The tools and techniques learned on the course had an immediate practical impact. “Learning to feel comfortable with silence during a presentation was probably the most valuable thing to put into practice,” he says. “Being able to stand up in front of a room full of people and pause for impact was very powerful for me. It’s about slowing down the pace of the presentation and pausing for impact. When people are nervous there is a tendency to speak faster and try to finish quicker. This helps you to avoid that by learning to slow down.”

Another technique he found quite powerful was the use of body movement and gestures instead of props. “They teach you how to use hand gestures instead of a prop like a pen during a presentation,” he says. “We learned how to be comfortable with our own body movements. Instead of using a prop like a pen they taught us how to use hand gestures and body movements to add colour to our presentations. That was very interesting for me. Having techniques like that to work into presentations was a huge benefit going back to the office. It has definitely helped me in my work. It has given me another level of confidence in presenting both to customers and my colleagues in Salesforce.”

The course tutors were of invaluable assistance. “Barbara Moynihan brought cohesion to a group of strangers very quickly,” he notes. “The classroom dynamic is very important. Within a very short period of time, we were getting open, honest feedback from a bunch of strangers who had never met before. That doesn’t happen by accident. It’s down to the people running the course. They also made the course fun. I found myself looking forward to the next day the night before. Fun is a very important element of a successful course.”

He gives the course his highest endorsement. “There are a lot of different courses of this nature out there, but I think this one is the most useful,” he says. “I would absolutely recommend the course to others. One of my team members and another colleague have already done the course since I did it. I have recommended it to a number of people and will continue to do so in the coming years.”

Join us for our breakfast briefing to find out more about our Communicating for Results course on Thursday, 16th February 2023. REGISTER ONLINE HERE.

Click here for more information the next intake of Communicating for Results from 28th - 30th March 2023.

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