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The Art of Great Presentations: Networlding Interviews Jeff Hornstein

After experiencing life altering events in his late 20’s, Jeff Hornstein discovered his passion. He became driven to empowering and inspiring people in a bigger way. Once he found his calling as a coach-speaker-consultant, he used his new found drive and philosophy of "Don’t Settle" to enroll his engineering firm in creating a training department which he profitably managed for 3 years. Realizing it was time to take his career to the next level, Jeff then landed a consulting job with a large player in the Communications-Public Speaking field. During the next 9 plus years, Jeff mastered his ability to coach people to improve their public speaking skills while developing and honing his managerial skills and business acumen.

Determined to leverage his experience, entrepreneurial spirit and "Don’t Settle" mind-set, Jeff launched Adams Communications Consulting Inc., whose mission is to help clients in create and deliver more powerful, impactful, and credible presentations. Following, is an interview I did recently with Jeff.

Jeff, tell me what is most rewarding about your work.

Without a doubt it is the satisfaction that comes with helping people overcome their challenges with public speaking and seeing their reaction when they see and feel a remarkable positive difference in a short period of time.  While all the client work is great, I’d have to say the most rewarding experiences are with clients that didn’t think they could overcome their fear of public speaking and they did.  To work with them and see how hard they worked to push themselves to break through their barrier is just the best.  It really is a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to help people in this arena.   

Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the good fortune of helping thousands of people positively impact their ability to delver their message with power and impact..  Whether working with a person that is about to hyperventilate or some high-level executive that is just looking for a little extra edge – helping all of them reach toward their goals has been extremely rewarding and fun.
 
How did you decide to get into the field of helping people improve their presentations?

Prior to getting into this field, I was an engineer for about 10 years.  Shortly into that career, I knew it was not what I was meant to be doing.  You know how many of us struggle to answer the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  From the time I was a senior in high school until I was in my late 20’s, it drove me nuts. Finally after having some life-changing experiences and finding the right mentors I became clear and figured it out.  I was supposed to be coaching, consulting, speaking, teaching and inspiring people to not settle for anything less than they want for themselves. Fortunately I have found a niche in the area of public speaking where I can help provide people with this most critical skill.

Public speaking is always near the top of the list when it comes to peoples’ greatest fears…what have you found is the reason why so many people are so afraid of it?

For the most part it boils down to peoples’ concerns over being embarrassed or looking foolish. We all want to perform well in front of other people, especially when we are speaking publicly.  The challenge is that many of us have an underlying thought that we they might not be good enough to be speaking about whatever we are talking about.  And if we make just he slightest mistake, we worry that others will think we are a fraud. When we apply such self-imposed pressure to be perfect, it is easy to see how anyone can be filled with anxiety and afraid to make any mistake, even while having deep subject matter expertise.

Consequently, we are concerned that if the entire audience is looking at us, they may see our mistakes, so we have a crazy hope that the audience won’t be looking at us.  I often hear some clients tell me “I’m worried that the audience will be looking at me”. I tell them, “They will be looking at you, but not in the way you think.” In other words, we believe they will be looking at us, and if we make a mistake they will perceive us as inept. However, so long as the audience perceives us as credible we will be successful. I show my clients how to be perceived credibly regardless of anxiety, fear, worry, etc. Many have experienced those feelings to some degree, but if they can get to the place (which I help clients with) where they create a perception of credibility they will find themselves growing more and more confident.
How long is a typical engagement for a client to go from a space of feeling scared to death of public speaking, to becoming comfortable with it? 

Engagements for us have been as short as 4 hours (half day) all the way up to 30 hours (split up over the course of several months).  It all depends where the baseline is for the client, how proficient they want to become, and how committed and coachable they are.  Certainly the less fear a person has going into the process, the quicker we can move into more specific suggestions to impact perception.  The greater the fear, more time is needed to help them realize they are not as bad as they think they are.  The greatest tool we use to facilitate this is the video camera.  While most people hate it, but there is no better way to capture exactly what the speaker is or is not doing. Pointing out the areas that need adjusting is critical, but equally as important is pointing out areas of strength.   When they see and start believing in their strengths, the fear starts to melt away.  The key is to identify and convince them of their strengths.       

What do you in your spare time?

When I’m not working, I’m spending most of my time with my wife and 4 kids.  For more information on Jeff, contact us at [email protected].   

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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