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Episode 129: Public Speaking Coach Hannah Michelotti on Presenting Yourself Authentically

"When you're not authentic, people don't listen to you."

We're joined this week by Hannah Michelotti, public speaking and presentation coach. Hannah shares her best tips for giving presentations as a creative, how to dress authentically, what makes a virtual presentation different than an in-person one, and how to utilize storytelling to keep your listeners interested. This is an INCREDIBLE episode for anyone who gives presentations in a work setting.

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Episode Transcript

Hannah: When you're not authentic people don't listen to you. They can sniff it out. Especially creatives, I think. I think creatives have a great barometer for people who are not authentic.

[Intro music]

This is Outside by Design. Your all-access pass to the world of creativity in the outdoor industry.

Lisa: And we're back.

Iris: We're back. Welcome back, all our friends, listeners… every listener is our friend.

Lisa: You know, it's been years, like six years since we've been doing this podcast or something. And I have to say, we have a very loyal listening and we're also looking to grow this year. So I think you're going to hear some really cool new things, innovative things that we've been doing over here, and it's going to be awesome.

Iris: We are so excited about the list of guests we have lined up for the season. And if you know anyone that you'd like to hear on the show, let us know because we're always looking for more and more people to interview. But as far as the season goes, we can't wait for you to hear some of the episodes that we have going on.

Lisa: And we've changed our process a little, we're sending out a pre-interview survey where we ask pretty deep questions and that way we can craft interviews around what people have going on and how they answer those. So it's proving to work really well. That's been a nice little change to the way that we've been producing this podcast.

Iris: Yeah. So Lisa, who did you get to talk to this week?

Lisa: This week was amazing. I got to speak with Hannah Michelotti, and she is a public speaking and presentation coach. She owns a company called Articulate With Hannah. And I learned so much about how to give a good creative presentation. And I'm a creative director.

Yeah, it was a shocking amount of information around how to dress for success, how to present what you're saying in a cohesive way. There's a lot of good information in there for writers and photographers, anyone giving creative presentations. In-house teams will find value from this. So I have to say this was one where I personally learned so, so much.

Iris: Yeah, this is such a great episode. Hannah has a lot of experience in the outdoor industry and you can just tell by the way she speaks and presents herself in this interview, that she is very, very good at what she does. And she drops a lot of knowledge on us, so let's just get right into it. Let's listen to what Hannah has to say.


Lisa: Well, first of all, Hannah, thank you so much for being here today.

Hannah: Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited.

Lisa: I am also really excited because we have never had anyone on the podcast in your line of work before. And our audience is so largely creative that having someone focused on giving presentations and what makes a great creative presentation is just so exciting.

Hannah: I'm glad to be here, then. I kind of cocked my head when you said we haven't had someone like you on the podcast before, but I guess that makes sense, because if you work with creatives, it's kind of in that space that you would talk to people who do creative things.

I don't think people realize just how creative public speaking and presenting can be. I consider myself highly, highly creative. It's just a little bit more structured. It doesn't fall under the normal umbrella of creativity, I think.

Lisa: Yeah. And it's something that most creatives just don't get training in. So I think it's going to be very well received over here.

Hannah: Fingers crossed!

Lisa: [laughs] The first question we ask everyone is to describe where you are and what you're looking at.

Hannah: [laughs] Oh, fabulous. I am in my bathroom. This is the bathroom that my husband and I were standing in a decade ago. And we looked at our realtor and said, “This is the house that we want to buy. Based on this bathroom alone.” It's larger than our bedroom. It has heated floors. It has dual shower heads. It has his and hers sinks. It's got a separate toilet. You can do all the laundry in the laundry closet. There's a walk-in closet. And it's where I also happen to exercise.

Lisa: That's hilarious and amazing. Where are you in the country?

Hannah: Oh, in the country. Oh, goodness. Specifically I am in Portland, Oregon. I'm on the west coast of the United States.

Lisa: Okay. That's what I thought, but I wanted to make sure. I kind of want to start with a quote you had in your questionnaire. And you had said, “my work is my life calling. I was put on the planet to do this, but it took three decades of working to figure that out.”

Hannah: Yes it did. [laughs] I figured out that I loved public speaking when I was 12. I gave my first public presentation in school, I was in seventh grade. Everyone had to give a speech. It was part of the curriculum. And you had to give a persuasive speech. So that ups the ante significantly, most people can inform others with a speech, but we had to persuade our audiences.

We got to pick the topic. I decided to persuade my peers as to why small dogs are better than large dogs. And I thought it was the coolest assignment that I had ever done in school to date. I didn't jive with math. I loved PE, history and social studies are kind of meh. Science is kind of meh, but if we were talking about animals, it was okay.

But public speaking, that was like a light bulb was turned on in my brain. I thought it was fantastic. And I wondered if people could do this for a living. I didn't really understand if that was possible, but 12 year old me wondered. And I decided that it was imperative in the presentation that I look professional. I had my mom go out and buy me a new dress. I still remember it. It was fluorescent orange and pink… very, very bright. I've never strayed from bright colors. I also knew that I had to have some sort of a visual. Because I know audiences respond well to visuals - or at least I thought that at the time - and then I also thought it was really important to have humor. I figured the best presentations and speeches were going to be the funniest ones. So that's part of the reason that I picked the topic. And it's also part of the reason that… oh, how do I explain it? That was something that I sensed in my gut that I could be good at, was humor. So I wanted to incorporate all of that when I chose the topic.

And then after, you know, grade school, middle school, whatever you want to call it, I went to high school, did drama, everything you can think of. I did mock trial, I did acting classes, I was in every single play, I was the munchkin mayor in the Wizard of Oz because I can use the munchkin voice.

Then I went to college. I essentially graduated in public speaking as a degree. And then I spent a decade in corporate America for a variety of different companies, doing a variety of different roles, but most of them centered around giving presentations, business development, sales, and product line management.

Lisa: Okay. Wow. So what was that like? What did you learn about taking your public speaking skills into this corporate America?

Hannah: Every job that I applied for, if it had public speaking or communication on the job posting, I was drawn to it. I thought, “oh, there's gotta be a job where I get to do a lot of this.” That, to me, was exciting, to be able to give presentations and speeches all day and connect with an audience and bring them in and draw them in. So the very first job that I had was with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, their slogan is, “we'll pick you up.” And while I wasn't doing formal presentations, it's a ton of rapport building. So you have to make an instant connection with customers and clients, understand their pain points and their needs and speak to them immediately so that you're able to get them the vehicle that they want and also offer them car insurance. You're essentially selling car insurance to people with car insurance.

The next job that I had was with KeyBank and that is where 80% of my job was to give presentations to external companies to bring them into our financial institution. So I was going to doctor's offices, dental clinics, CPAs, law firms, you name it. And I was giving presentations about our products and services to bring them on board or strengthen a relationship that we already had. And that's when I began coaching people on the side. That's when I began coaching my manager. I began helping people before and after work with their presentations, with their speeches, what they would say in meetings. That's when I realized I really had a knack for this in the corporate setting, at least.

Lisa: And I saw in your questionnaire that you worked at Under Armour.

Hannah: That was my final resting place, yes, in corporate America. I worked at Under Armour. Yes. That's where I did product line management for outdoor footwear. So it was trail running, hiking, hunting, fishing, and then what we called military tactical. At Under Armour I gave presentations at least monthly, if not more often, it's a big presentation culture. And it's especially important at Under Armour because I worked in Portland, Oregon, and they were headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. And it was extremely important that they had face time, or simulated face time. So they wanted these presentations to happen often to executives. So I spoke to members of the C-suite at least four times a year. The GMs, absolutely. VPs. You name it. I was talking to anybody that was high up in the company, whether or not they were in my silo of work. And I was explaining our products. I was selling them in, I was giving them credibility and value and telling them why they should exist in the line and live to see another day on the sales floor.

Lisa: Okay. Wow. So what did you learn through that experience of… I guess, it sounds like you're selling products to people who run the company.

Hannah: Yeah, I got really good at presenting to executives. And I got really good at understanding what they wanted to know, what they wanted to hear, and how to frame that so that my team could have the success. And by success. I mean, these shoes that we were pumping out could actually make it through all of the cuts and the minimum order quantities, and finally make it onto the shelves.

But it was all about understanding your audience. Under Armour... not to speak ill of them, but many of the presentations were really dull and basic and boring and full of statistics and numbers, which is fine. But presentations come alive when you tell a story, when you have personal information. So I was this wild card. People were like, “whoa, she's doing things differently. She spent two minutes giving us the story of the shoe and how the designer came up with it.” That's what people want to hear. That's what gets them to buy the shoe. They don't buy it because of the features. They don't buy it because of two BOA dials. They buy it because of the benefits. What is this shoe or this hat or these gloves or this backpack, what's it going to do for me as a consumer? And what is the story that I can tell about someone who's wear tested that and has lived that story, essentially.

Lisa: Okay. So I guess this brings me to my next question, which is what makes a great presentation?

Hannah: Yes ma'am, let me answer that for you. A great presentation has… quite a few components, but if we boil it down so it's easy to understand, a great presentation starts with an opening that is catchy. It has to have a hook. And I really do mean it's the very first words out of your mouth. It's not, “Hi, my name is Hannah Michelotti, I'm the product line manager here at Under Armour.” No, no, no. The first words out of your mouth are things like “fire!” or “how do you sell a fire extinguisher?” or “who knows the three ways to deal with a brown bear when you encounter them in the woods?” That grabs people's attention.

From there, you want to move into your agenda. So what you're going to be talking about, what your audience can expect to hear, and what you want them to do, ultimately, with the information that you're sharing.

Then you want to have two to three main points, if you're speaking under 60 minutes. And I say two to three main points under 60 minutes because anything beyond that and your audience has a very hard time retaining the information. If I were to ask all of you listening if you can name off all of Snow White’s seven dwarves, most of you can get five. But it's really hard to get all seven. And that's because of our short-term memory. And the same is true when it comes to presentations. If we stick to two to three main points, we guarantee that our audience's short-term memory can retain all the information.

Once you've covered your two to three main points and you provide examples, analogies, metaphors, data, then you want to close. And you want your conclusion to be more than a Thank You slide with your name and your email, which I know is the safest thing in the world. Or questions with a slide that says “Questions?” You want to end on a high note. You want to end on the most valuable information that you've shared, what you want your audience to take away, what you want them to actually do with the information. I tell people, this is like the encore of a musical performance. So you go to a concert, I always talk about Taylor Swift. Let's say she's finished the performance, but everyone's clapping and they're begging her for an encore. What do you think she's going to play for that encore? Is she going to play a song no one's ever heard of? Or is she gonna play her number one hit that you haven't yet heard all night long? She's gonna play the number one hit. And you want your presentation to close out the same way. You want it to be the encore song. That's what you want people to take away from your presentation.

Lisa: This is fascinating. [Hannah laughs] So we have a lot of photographers who listened to this podcast. So let's, let's just pretend it's a photographer and they're presenting their work from a recent shoot to an in-house marketing team.

Hannah: Totally.

Lisa: What's an encore situation for that?

Hannah: An encore situation is where you are going to save the best photos for last, the photos that you think are going to sell in the most successfully. You can tease them. Let's say you've got five banger shots, you know, you can put maybe like one or two in the presentation to begin with, but you save those last 2, 3, 4 for the very end. Those are the clincher. That's what people are waiting to see.

And photography I understand is especially hard because that's your communication medium. You want to put the photo up and let the photo do the work for itself and do the speaking. That's why artists have such a hard time with an artist statement. They're like, please just look at my work. Why do I need to use words? So with photography save the banger for last, save the biggest baddest bestest photo you took for last. And I, personally, I would tell a story around it, especially if it has an individual in the photograph or it's especially symbolic or, you know, that will have a lot of meaning for the people in the audience. Let's say, you know someone at the agency and, you know, alpine lakes or mountains really speak to them or an experience that they've had. Talk to that experience, tell a story around it. Truly. End on a story with the best photo you've got in the portfolio, that would be my recommendation.

Lisa: How, what do you recommend opening with, in that scenario?

Hannah: What I recommend opening with... interestingly enough, is a story. Anyone that follows me on social media knows that I am just like a story queen. I love stories so, so much. They're the most compelling element that you could possibly use in a presentation. To that end, start with a story, tell a portion of the story in the opening, and then conclude with the ending of the story.

So I'll give you an example. When I was working for KeyBank, I went out to Cleveland, Ohio to the headquarters, and I also presented to their executive team. I started off my entire presentation with this age old family story about a little boy who thought he was Superman during bathtub time. And he tied a towel around his neck and he flew out of the bath.

At the end of the presentation, I divulged that that was actually me and my brother and my brother looked at me and said, “Hannah, I'm Superman!” And he tried to launch himself out of the bathtub because he believed he could, he was so inspired. I did not include the part about how he broke his arm in two in that experience. I simply stopped with the idea or concept around how he felt so empowered by a comic book that he thought he could fly with a towel, just like a superhero could. Then that was the message I wanted to convey. So I started and closed with the exact same story. I just told portions of it.

And in the same way, if you're talking about photography, you can tease that.

So you're telling people about this photo or these couple of photos in the very beginning with a story, and you can tell them, “and I will show you the rest from the shoot at the very end of today's presentation, because I know that will have so much impact.” You can Telegraph that and let them know, “stay to the end folks. The best part is yet to come.”

Lisa: That kind of reminds me of TikTok. Are you on TikTok?

Hannah: I am not on TikTok. My husband is a software engineer. And when TikTok started, he said, “do you want the Chinese government to have all of your personal information?” And I said, “no.” And he said, “then I probably wouldn't join TikTok if I were you.” So I actually, strangely, as an older millennial, I'm not on TikTok.

Lisa: Yeah. I find it really interesting because TikTok is all about getting people to watch your video the whole way through. And there's a lot of teasing happening, where they say “stay to the end” or like you “bet you'll never believe what happens at the end.” So it's sort of like that.

Hannah: Yeah. Watch ‘til the end, same exact concept.

[ad break]

Lisa: Okay. You had another one-liner in the questionnaire that you filled out and this one-liner really made me want to talk to you and out of everything in the whole thing, I was like, I need her to explain that. You said, “when you understand that the mundane parts of your life are actually the pieces that connect with listeners, you tune into your routine and you look at washing dishes differently.”

Hannah: Yes.

Lisa: So what does that mean?

Hannah: Whenever I start working with someone on presentations, we get into stories really quickly, and we get into the power of metaphors, examples, and analogies. Most people that I work with go, “oh, but I don't… I don't do anything of import. I don't do anything exciting. There's nothing in my life that's worthwhile talking about in a presentation.” Not so!

I ask them to look at their normal routines. So washing dishes, for example, or starting the dishwasher, how can that serve as an analogy or a metaphor in your presentation? How can doing the laundry serve as a metaphor for what you'd like to discuss? So if we think about it, laundry is something none of us can escape. It happens every week for some people, you know, every two weeks. If you're like me, you sort things out into colors and lights and darks. And then we go into detergent and we go into different water temperatures, and then we go into the drying cycle or if you air dry… Okay. So it has a lot of nuance and components if you actually really look at it. How can we relate that to the work that you do? Something that's routine. So if we take photography, okay, so you're taking photos. Well, you also have to adjust the aperture. You're looking at light, you're looking at texture, so you can start to match up these similarities to the way that you do laundry.

And what happens is, if you explain your work in terms that other people do in a regular routine, they understand it and they connect with it. If you talk about how your photography is like doing a load of laundry, they are going to remember that for months. That is going to stick in their minds. And that is what you want. The most basic routines of your life serve as some of the most powerful metaphors.

Often I talk about driving cars, taking a shower, going to the airport is a great one, or, you know, airplanes on the runway. There's just, there's so many, there's an endless amount of them. But picking out what you do on a regular basis, make it easy. Take something you normally do and relate it to the work that you do when you're talking to an audience and they will instantly be able to connect with you.

Lisa: This is delightful. What's another example of that?

Hannah: Yeah. I'm trying to think of one that was… that was recent. Okay. So I was working with a company on the east coast and they make shoes, they do footwear. And they came up with this all on their own. I will not take credit for this, but their shoes kind of have this nylon cover. They've got some rip stop happening, but they're kind of this indoor/outdoor shoe. It's kind of like a slipper that you might wear to the store. It looks a little bit nicer. And a person on the team was like, “what if we called them sleeping bags for your feet?” And I said, “yes, exactly. They're like a little sleeping bag for your feet.”

The minute we take something basic, a sleeping bag, and we apply it to footwear, suddenly everyone understands exactly what that shoe is going to do. It's going to keep you warm, insulated, cozy, protected from the rain. All of that is wrapped up in a simple phrase of ‘sleeping bag for your feet.’

Lisa: I love that.

Hannah: I will not take credit for it. That was all them. I thought it was brilliant.

Lisa: I like that, because that kind of touches on all our product people and our marketing teams that listened to the podcast. What's an example that a designer, like a graphic designer, two-dimensional designer, might be able to use.

Hannah: Yeah, I was trying to think of that. Can you give me… let's see…

Lisa: Like, here's a logo.

Hannah: Yeah. Well, here's another one. I don't know if this necessarily applies to a logo, but I gave this one to my husband. So I'm happy to give it away again. He's an engineer and he was talking about how they're creating a product and it's not a run-of-the-mill product. It's a little bit more elevated, a little more elegant. It takes a little bit more care. And I said, “so you're kind of like making a Tesla and everyone else thinks you're making a Corolla.” And he said, “Yeah, we want to be the Teslas. We don't want to be the Toyota Corollas.” I said, “there you go.” To this day, it's been six months, he still has people on his team that are like, “oh yeah, the Tesla and the Toyota Corolla. Got it. Got it. Yeah. We want to do the Tesla.”

Lisa: I like that, because that probably connects very much with his engineering audience.

Hannah: [laughs] Yes. It makes a lot of sense on a lot of different levels.

Lisa: [laughs] I love that. What are some other, I guess, tips and tricks that you would offer to creatives specifically, maybe around wardrobe? You know, that's something I've never actually had a conversation about. Is… do you show up dressed as the creative director or the graphic designer or photographer? Like what's, what's your advice on that?

Hannah: It's funny. Working at Under Armour, we had a creative team that I worked with and they were definitely on the creative side of the creative spectrum. And I didn't necessarily understand the way that they dressed because it wasn't the way that I dressed. And yet we all worked in the outdoor space to show me there was so much variety.

So when it comes to dressing for a presentation, I recommend that you dress to impress. But what I don't mean by that is, if you are a creative and you have a certain style or you, you know, you're minimalistic and you wear grays and blacks and whites and tonal colors, don't go with a pantsuit that Hillary Clinton would wear. Because that is not going to be authentic for you. You want to look your best, but you also want to look professional in the best way possible for you.

So what I have people do is an exercise around their power colors. You have certain colors that look better on your body than others, and they are based on your natural skin tone, your natural eye color, and your natural hair color. You can pick these colors out because they're typically colors that you're drawn to and/or they're colors that when you wear them across the board, people say things like, “oh my gosh, you look great today.” They don't necessarily say that your clothing looks great, but they say you look great. They might go so far as to say, “that looks great on you” or “wow. What a wonderful color” that, though, that's in your color wheelhouse. Those are your power colors. When you wear them they make your natural features stand out in the very best way possible.

I, for example, have discovered that I have to wear navy instead of black. Black completely washes me out. I have very fair skin. I have freckles. I have Hazel eyes. I have blonde hair. And it's like, you know, dishwasher, blonde, but black really washes me out. Navy just gives me a little bit more umph to it. My power colors are hot pink, orange, coral. Those kinds of really rich jewel tones. So pick your power colors, go with what's most comfortable and make sure you're dressing to impress. Because when we dress casually, that's the other side of the spectrum, casual usually comes across as scruffy and bedraggled in a presentation, which you do not want. You want to look impressive. You want people to say, “dang, they really showed up for this” instead of, “oh gosh, they could have put in some work.”

Lisa: I'm loving this. How does this translate to digital presentations? Because we all know Zoom isn't going away.

Hannah: God bless it. Zoom is not going away. Yes. When it comes to digital presentations, same story. Still wear your power colors, but digital presentations really are about light, framing, and clarity. So if all of you could see my screen right now, it would be atrocious. I have light coming in only on one side. I'm awkwardly leaned over. You want to have your camera at eye level or above. You want to make sure that everything in your background is clean, whether that's a bookshelf or a solid wall color. I will warn you though, if you have a bookshelf, if people lose interest - which is normal and it happens in your presentation - they will try to read the spines on your bookshelf. So just be cautious of that. You can have an attractive plant, but it's really about the light and the framing and the clarity of the camera, essentially, when you are doing something digital. That's what you need to be aware of.

Lisa: Okay. How do you, I guess, how does your work translate into this concept of Zoom fatigue, where everyone is staring straight into each other's faces and, you know, you're in a Zoom call for like two hours, ‘cause you know they drag on. Like, what are some kind of ways to navigate that and mitigate that unrealistic interaction?

Hannah: One way is to simulate eye contact. So whenever you're speaking, you want to look directly into the camera. And what it does is it makes everyone watching you feel like you're actually looking at them with your eyeballs. Eye contact is the number one way to non-verbally communicate with others. If you think about it, you know, you got that ‘look’ from someone at the bar or your mom gave you that look, or your kids gave you that look, eyes do so much. So simulating that as much as possible by looking into the camera is going to be great.

And second, when it comes to Zoom, truly cut down your presentations. Don't take the full allotted time. Anytime I give a workshop it's 45 minutes or less. I save the extra remaining time for Q and A if people want to ask questions, but never, ever, ever, am I on a presentation or a workshop for over 60 minutes. Because I just know audience attention spans can't last, especially when everyone's already taxed from looking at a screen all day long. It's a different story in person, of course, our attention spans are better. But cut down your presentations. People will love you for it. If you're the presenter that gives them back 15, 20 minutes in their day, gosh, they will love you. They also love it when you get straight to the point, which is another great reason to cut down your presentation time.

Lisa: I love that. What's a way that creatives can cut straight to the point?

[Hannah laughs]

You have the hook, you know, you have the hook and then you want to kind of what, tell people what you're going to tell them, or…?

Hannah: Yeah.

Lisa: …start building and building your framework?

Hannah: Yeah. I call it your table of contents. And that's the opening part of your presentation. So you've got the hook, grab everybody's attention. Awesome. And then I think this is probably the hardest part for creatives because it's direct. And it uses extremely concrete language, but letting people know what they can expect to come in the next chapters of your presentation is really critical. So you hook, you state your name, you state your title if necessary, and you say today, I'm going to be covering X, Y, and Z. And then I always recommend, “so that” phrases. What's important for the people taking away your message to do?

So let's say you're going to talk about the omni-channel approach for the marketing efforts for Q4, so that our brand can hit all of its targets. Or so that the brand can exceed all of its revenue targets. That's what a lot of audiences want to know, especially when they're executives. Just an example, but those “so that” phrases are really critical. Why is this important to your audience? Give them the table of contents and add the “so that” phrase.

[ad break]

Lisa: This is amazing. How can people, how can people contact you and work with you and kind of what are these… I know you built this really amazing 10 week program.

Hannah: Yeah.

Lisa: So, I don't know. Do you want to walk us through that?

Hannah: Yeah, so the ways that people can work with me. I take on one-on-one clients for anyone that wants to work with me one-on-one. I meet every person for what's called an introductory session, and that's where we spend 60 minutes chatting. I break it down into three segments. The first twenty minutes, I want to learn about you. I want to learn about what you do for a living. I want to learn why you've contacted a public speaking coach, what you're looking to achieve. Then I'll spend 15 to 20 minutes telling you a little bit more about me. And then finally, I'll talk about the different ways that we can work together, which are these: you continue with one-on-one work with me and that's hourly sessions. And I recommend people meet every two weeks with me to see the most improvement and skill change. Or, you can join my 10 week program. And my 10 week program, I only open twice a year because it's accelerated and it's very time intensive on my part, which means that I am putting my most energy and time into these clients for those 10 weeks.

And in the 10 weeks you go through three phases. First, we work on building up your confidence. So if you are someone that is under confident, when you speak, you have high anxiety, you get really nervous, major sweating armpits, you feel like you totally lose your train of thought. You're afraid of judgment, which… when you're creative, that's a really big deal because you are putting things out there to basically get judged by your audience. And that's scary. I will say that firsthand. That's really scary. So how to move through that. We build your confidence in phase one, and that helps you to become an authentic speaker. Because when you're not authentic, people don't listen to you. They can sniff it out, especially creatives, I think. I think creatives have a great barometer for people who are not authentic.

Next, we work on creating a connection with your audience. So you can’t create a connection with your audience if you're not first authentic. So creating a connection with your audience is all about driving impact. When you're impactful, your audience remembers what you've had to say. They say yes to your proposals. That's where you're getting talked about, your message is being repeated and they take action on what you shared with them, which is ideal.

And then in the third phase of the program, we work on polishing and packaging your delivery. So that's tone of voice. That's facial expressions, that's nonverbal gestures. And one of my all time favorites, slides! Your visual aids. Most people use slides as a crutch. They use them as speaker notes or presentation notes. Slides are not that. Slides are solely meant to help your audience better understand and retain the information you've shared. If they're not doing that, if you're using them as a speaker note or a secret note card, I will sniff that out. Believe me, it makes a huge difference when you change up your slides. And we go over, you know, what do I do if someone says, “oh, I would like the deck of your presentation.” That's kind of code for, I want your entire speech notes set.

So those are the three phases that we go through. And what it does is it helps people to become these authentic, impactful, engaging professionals so that you can advance in your career. Because the better you can articulate your work and how it has meaning to your audience and you're engaging, the more likely people are to promote you, pay you more and give you the raises that you deserve.

Lisa: This is such important work that you're doing.

Hannah: That's why I call it a life calling, because it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had in my entire life, probably next to nannying kids, because that means that a small person is in your, in your care and you have to keep them safe, but this is the most important work I have ever done. And it's the most wonderful work. I absolutely love it.

Lisa: Cool. I guess, is there anything else that I haven't asked you that you think our audience needs to know?

Hannah: I will share this technique. As a creative, I know it can be hard to explain your work in a way that makes sense to someone who's not creative. For example, if you're a photographer, it's hard to explain to an engineer that doesn't have appreciation for photos, why your photos matter or why your work matters. If you're in marketing, it can be especially hard to break down what you do into dollars or sales. What I recommend for you to do, if a presentation is coming up, is, I want you to call up one of your friends. I don't want you to call a yes person. I don't want you to call the friend that's gonna be like, “oh my gosh, you're so good. You're so talented. I love hearing about what you do.” Don't call them. Please. Don't call them. That's like calling mom. You're not calling mom. You're calling the person who's going to give you actual critical feedback. This is the person usually that has great boundaries. They tell you, no, they can't come to your party. That's the person you want to call. I want you to give a segment of your presentation, the part that you're probably the most worried about. I want you to give it to them. And I want you to ask them for critical, honest feedback. Do they understand what you're talking about?

And the excuse of, well, they're not in my industry, so that's okay. No, no, that doesn't work. Because they're not in your industry, you want to make sure that your content makes sense to them. Give them a portion of your presentation and ask for that critical feedback and see what they have to say. They will be honest with you. They will tell you what makes sense and what doesn't make sense, and they'll have a real discussion with you about it. It will help you to gain perspective of what other people at your company or at an agency might think or feel about what you’re sharing.

Lisa: Does that also work when you flip it where you are like the account manager, speaking to the hardcore creative team, trying to articulate what a client wants?

Hannah: Oh, yes. Oh yes. It works both ways. Yeah, because account managers don't necessarily speak the creative language. Yes. You want to make sure you get on the same page with the same words and language that makes sense to everyone.

To that end, I talk about this a lot - you want to use what are called concrete terms. Concrete terms are specific and definitive and they mean the same thing to everybody listening. Abstract terms on the other hand are vague and ambiguous. They have a different meaning for every single person listening, which is a problem. Ambiguous abstract terms are words like ‘best practices’ and ‘synergy’ and ‘execution,’ ‘strategy.’ These are buzzwords. These have different meanings for everybody listening.

So if you're talking about how the client wants us to execute on a strategy that has a lot of synergy and works off of the best practices of the company, every single person in that room is going to have a totally different idea of what that means. It could mean they're talking about mushroom hunting. It could mean they're talking about playing tennis. We have no idea. So you want to be as concrete and specific and definitive as possible. If you're talking about taking pictures of a body of water, what kind of body of water? Is it a pond? Is it a lake? Is it a puddle? Is that the ocean? Is it a sea? Get specific. Please, please, please. In my gentlest voice, please get specific.

Lisa: I love that. Is that where we can bring metaphor in as well, and to kind of bridge those gaps between - I'm just going to use an agency, the accounts team and the creative team, you know, can they build that bridge out of metaphor?

Hannah: Totally. Yep. And those metaphors are the routines. So washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, driving to school, driving a car, picking up takeout. Yes. Those metaphors are excellent because what that does is it takes something that both the account manager and the creative do on a regular basis and it brings them together in the same, in the same go. So yes, absolutely use metaphors there.

Lisa: I love that. And I have really enjoyed your wisdom and energy and topic. We, again, we just never have had anyone like, like you on the podcast before. So I think this is a really robust episode and I've loved it. I've loved talking to you. So where can people follow you and find you and hire you?

Hannah: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. All the things. You can find me on YouTube, you can look me up under my name. Hannah Michelotti, M-I-C-H-E-L-O-T-T-I, my first name is a palindrome, H-A-N-N-A-H three letters, backwards, forwards the same way, just like a race car. You can find me on Instagram and my handle is @articulatewithhannah. You can find me on… ugh, I'm also on LinkedIn. I'm not a very alive on LinkedIn, but I'm there. I've got a profile, I'm there. And you can find me on my website and that's probably the easiest way to get in touch with me. And you can book an intro call with me. And my website is Also, if you just straight up want to email me, I'm great with that too. My email is That is my direct email. You are getting a human being. It's not a robot or a team. There's no Royal We, it's me. I'll respond to you.

But those are the ways you can get in touch. And if you do get in touch, please let me know. You listened to this podcast and that's how you found me. I'd love to hear that.

Lisa: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And we will put all of that in the show notes.

Hannah: Thank you so much for having me.


Iris: Thank you so much for tuning in to Outside by Design. This show is produced by WHEELIE.

LISA: Wheelie is a creative agency that specializes in helping brands articulate and amplify what they stand for, what they believe in, and make really cool creative work that serves as a gift to your community. So if you are a brand looking to amplify what you stand for in the world and use capitalism for positive change, we are your people. So you can go to the website, And as far as this podcast goes, how can they support it?

Iris: Well, they can visit to find more episodes, transcripts, and the show notes. We are also found on Instagram at @wheeliecreative. Please subscribe, leave a five star review on your podcast app and share this podcast with a friend that really helps us grow.

And you can also support us by visiting one of our affiliate links, which you can find in the show notes.

With that. I'm Iris.

Lisa: And I’m Lisa.

Iris: Thanks for being here.

Lisa: Talk to you soon.

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