He was lively and energetic, as well as insightful and full of brilliant tips that we could all take away and put into practice for ourselves. In brief, these were:
• Make sure you prepare your presentations; this is your moment to entice your audience to want to know more about you. If you're prepared, you are less likely to fumble the opportunity.
• Make your message stick: start with something that will immediately catch the interest of your audience because it speaks to a desire or a pain that they are likely to have.
• Understand what the audience is thinking. Answer the questions that arise in their minds: 'So what? Who cares? What's in it for me?', and answer them quickly.
• Focus their minds with a few questions that go to the heart of a problem or frustration. Paint a picture of that problem or frustration and then one of a satisfied client. Use concrete examples from your business.
• Keep on the lookout for useful stories you can use as illustrations of how your business solves a problem or addresses a need; keep a story file of these to draw from.
• Always finish with something powerful: many people can throw away all their good work at the end. People will think about the very last words you say, so make sure they are right to the point.
Being from the US, and only in the country for a quick visit, Darren was also very 'American' in his style. So long as the message is valuable, nobody minds hearing an American being a bit 'out there' and extroverted, because it's part of the US culture. But Australians tend to feel less comfortable presenting ourselves in that way. I could feel, and hear, some of the people around me wondering how they could translate what he was saying to them into something that would be appropriate for an Australian, presenting in an Australian cultural setting.
My take on that issue is that Darren's messages were in fact spot on, and that the issue at hand was one of style, not substance. It's about using your own voice to deliver your own message, but doing that using the best ways to truly engage your audience and keep them interested. Using your own voice is not only easier to do, but it also reinforces your credibility.