Martin Brooks on giving pitches and presentations with greater impact – MAF152

On the show this week, I talk to Martin Brooks. He’s an “Impacttologist”.

We chat about creating a greater impact in your pitches and presentations. How to convince, influence and motivate others.

Welcome to episode 152 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Martin Brooks on giving pitches and presentations with greater impact - MAF152

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • What an impattologist actually is
  • How a background in the travel industry shaped Martin’s career as a communication and sales trainer
  • Combining psychology with communication skills to convince, influence and motivate those you’re speaking to
  • Using tone of voice and rhetorical techniques to push home a message
  • How Martin’s digital coaching process works and cuts out the tedium of travel
  • How to keep your audiences attention and stop them reaching for their mobile devices

Who is Martin Brooks?

Martin describes himself as an “Impacttologist”. A person who studies the behaviour of the world’s top communicators to understand how they convince, influence and motivate others.

He’s an enabler of people’s potential. Through his feedback, coaching and advice, he helps people create the “impact” in presentations that are representative of their potential – rather than their current combination of confidence and communication skills.


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Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

“What if the audience think my messages are too simple?”

This thought came crashing into my mind as I sat in aeroplane thirty-five thousand feet above the Alps.

Beyond the oval window, I could see the clear blue sky, snow-tipped mountains and lakes glistening in the sunlight. I was on my way to a marketing conference in Montenegro to give a speech on fighting complexity in marketing. The organisers invited me because they saw a video of my performance at CMA Live last summer in Edinburgh. So, I should have felt confident, motivated and ready to rock that stage.

Instead, when the cabin crew lady handed me my coffee, I felt a sinking feeling and a rush of nerves.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

I thought, “What the hell are you doing?”

“In two days’ time, you’ll on a stage in front of an audience of 150 people for whom English is not their first language. And they’re marketing directors of big companies or marketing agency people.”

“Can I really teach them anything?”

“Will they be remotely interested in keeping things simple?”

I wondered what the odds were the plane would develop a technical fault and we’d divert to Austria. I guess a heavy dose of imposter syndrome came and hit me right between the eyes.

But here’s the reality.

I ran up the stairs to the stage in Podgorica top the heavy beat sound of UK hardcore techno-music (a link to my side hustle as a Body Combat instructor). Imposter syndrome defeated by the atmosphere of the event and the warm welcome given by the conference organisers and the other speakers and guests.

The speech went off without a hitch, delivered in my usual upbeat, motivational style.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

And do you know what? They loved the speech. I’d adapted it to compensate for the language difference. For example, they wouldn’t know what “muppetry” meant in the context of big companies doing stupid things. But mainly, it was the same “fighting complexity” speech I’d done in Edinburgh and many times since.

They applauded the simple messages. They wanted to talk afterwards about how simple marketing strategy could be.

My fear the audience would think my messages were too simple was unfounded. They positively embraced the simplicity. They were crying out for it.

After, I was somewhat embarrassed, but humbled some of the guests wanted to take selfies with me.

Fighting complexity in marketing and kicking the butt of impostor syndrome

I felt reassured my wish to help people keep marketing simple is the right direction for my consultancy business and for my future speaking engagements.

Companies the world over make marketing, especially the strategy part, far too complicated.

Young people shy away from it because it sucks the energy and creativity out of them. The veterans resign themselves to it because they lack the will to fight against it. Strategy sucked the energy and creativity out of them long ago.


Can I really teach them anything? Yes!

Will they be remotely interested in keeping things simple? Damn right!

Over the last 2 years as I’ve refocused on my speaking career after a short break. I’ve invested in some top-notch training and coaching. The World Class Communication course with Marcus Sheridan helped me become a better teacher.

Now I want to get out there more and help others find the simplicity they crave.

Now it’s your turn:

I’m taking bookings for 2018. If you want me to give my “Fighting Complexity” speech at your event please visit my speaker page to find out more about what I can do for you.

And if you want to see a little more of the beautiful country of Montenegro please watch my VLOG.

Exploding projectors, presentation segments and World Class Communication – WCCLive17

BANG! The screen went dark and my presentation style changed forever.

That was 15 years ago. I was a prolific public speaker. Speaking at conferences all over the UK and in Europe.

I’ve been getting back into speaking in a big way in the last 18 months after taking a break for a few years. In 2017, people have enjoyed my “Fighting Complexity in Marketing” talk at CMA Live in Edinburgh, Talking Point of Business in Newcastle and Network 2.0 in Montenegro. It’s an exciting time.

But two experiences in my speaking career profoundly changed the way I present now. The day the projector lamp went “BANG” and World Class Communication (WCCLive) with Marcus Sheridan.

An annual 2-day event in Edinburgh, WCCLive helps speakers develop, improve and become, literally, world class. In fairness, it’s not just an event for speakers. WCCLive can help you in all areas of communication. Workshops. Managing staff. Team meetings. Even how you communicate with friends and family.

This week organiser, Chris Marr, and Marcus invited me back to WCCLive as a guest to share my experiences. I stood in front of the students, in the incredible Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh and told them my story.

Exploding projectors, presentation segments and World Class Communication - WCCLive17I started by asking them what is the first thing they do when asked to put together a presentation?

One person said they panic!

Another told of how he draws a mind map.

Other said they moved their mouse pointer towards PowerPoint.

That was me 15 years ago.

Death by PowerPoint

If my boss came over and said, “I need you to put together a presentation on the top 5 advantages of our product line”, I’d click on PowerPoint.

If someone asked me to deliver a speech at a local business event, I’d go straight to PowerPoint.

It’s what most people do first. Is that your experience too?

It doesn’t help that bosses often say something like, “Can you put a deck together on the top advantages of our product line.” Asking for decks reinforces the perception presentations start with PowerPoint.

Once in PowerPoint I’d build a load of slides.

Heading. Bullet point. Bullet point. Bullet point.

I was the Master of PowerPoint. I took death by PowerPoint to the next level. Genocide by PowerPoint you might say.

I’d turn up at gigs and the AV guy would say, “Have you really got 180 slides?”.

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “But you only have 20 minutes.”

I said, “I talk fast”.

Despite the piles of slides, people told me they liked my speeches.

But then, “BANG” everything changed.

I shared with the WCCLive students the 3 phases of my speaking career.

Exploding projectors, presentation segments and World Class Communication - WCCLive17Phase one was the PowerPoint Phase.

When everything started with the slides.

Then one day I was speaking at a major financial services event. They’d pre-loaded their laptop with my epic presentation. I’d also take my own laptop along as a back-up. And I had the presentation on a CD-ROM as well. Just in case.

Yes. A CD-ROM. A time before USB sticks.

It was one of those conferences with different rooms for different sessions.

About 75 delegates sat waiting for me to begin. The room host gave the audience a little background and then introduced me.

As I opened my mouth to start I heard that “BANG”.

The bulb in the projector blew.

The screen went dark.

The AV Guy was panic-stricken. They had no spares. Their laptop, my laptop and my CD-ROM were all useless.

I had no choice.

I did the presentation without slides.

No prompts. No graphs. No pictures. No words. No bullet points. Nothing.

Fortunately, I did know my material. It felt weird but strangely liberating to improvise. After an unsteady first few minutes, I hit a confident stride.

At the end, they gave me a standing ovation. I guess they were impressed I managed to talk for 45 minutes without PowerPoint.

How do you think I felt at the end of that presentation?

Here’s the thing. It was one of those conferences where the delegates go from one room to the next.

A round robin.

I had to do the presentation 3 more times. Without slides!

Each one was better than the last.

For me, that marked the end of my PowerPoint era.

Next came my scripting era.

I’d write out each talk. Fresh each time. Of course, I might copy and paste some stories. And then I’d do a few slides, mainly pictures, to back up the stories. But I never relied on the slides ever again.

The third era of my speaking career started 2 years ago the first time I went to WCCLive and Marcus Sheridan taught me about segments.

Exploding projectors, presentation segments and World Class Communication - WCCLive17

WCCLive created learning overload. There was the “Columbus Principle” – the skill of using questions to get your audience to find the answers themselves. The improvisation technique of, “Yes…and” to deal with mishaps, questions and unexpected situations.

And segments.

Segments was the game changer for me. Those of you who know me, know I hate jargon and management speak. People overuse the term, “Game changer”. But learning about segments was a game changer for me.

Power of Segments

Marcus teaches segments. Rather than writing whole presentations create a series of segments. And when someone asks you to put together a full presentation simple construct it from the most relevant segments in your segment locker.

The key to each segment is the story.

I’ve always littered my presentations with stories. Always believed stories are the best way to engage an audience. But until WCCLive, I’ve never thought about them in the context of segments before.

Marcus divides a segment into 4 blocks.

  • A question.
  • A story.
  • The result.
  • Call to action.

It’s so simple. You can use this structure for presentations, webinars, Facebook Live videos, pre-recorded videos, anything.

Now when someone asks me to speak – what do I do?

Reach for PowerPoint?


I start with the message I want my audience to learn.

Then I pluck one or a few segments from my segment rack.

And there is my speech.


Now it’s your turn:

If you’d like to book me to speak at your event please have a look at my speaker page. I’d love to bring my “Fighting Complexity in Marketing” keynote to your event.

If you’re a speaker or presenter, or just want to take your presentation skills to another level, check out World Class Communications Live (WCCLive). It’s a game changer.

Exploding projectors, presentation segments and World Class Communication - WCCLive17