Leadership Lessons & High Impact Public Speaking From Charities


Leadership lessons are abound in many of the worlds finest charities. Those leadership lessons extend way beyond culture. They impact their presentation and public speaking skills immensely too.

At Mindful Presenter our presentation skills training revolves around creating that all important emotional connection as well as an intellectual understanding.

Our team consider it an honour and privilege to work with some of the largest, most successful and influential brands in the world helping them to develop their presentation skills. The only time that excitement is surpassed is when we are asked to help charities to develop their presentation skills to help them to make the impact and desperately needed difference in the world they were created to.

As you may imagine, many of the businesses we work with have large learning and development budgets whereas by their very nature most charitable organisations have very little if any budget at all to train their people.

In addition to the financial disparity, we often see another significant distinction between the presentation skills of many charitable organisations compared to commercially driven businesses. The attitude, abilities and manner in which charities consider craft and deliver their message compared to some of the most innovative and highly resourced businesses in the world is generally far more mindful.

I recently had the great pleasure of leading a workshop for the Education Awareness Team at Teenage Cancer Trust. Under the brilliant leadership of two very talented and experienced managers most of the team were relatively new to the organisation yet despite that here is what I witnessed before we even reached the first break:

– A level of passion, energy and enthusiasm that is often lacking in commercial enterprises.

– A sense of purpose and visionary commitment that many businesses sometimes struggle to articulate.

– The authenticity and clear intention to connect with an audience emotionally as well as intellectually.

These three elements alone appear to be far more inherently a part of the charitable sector than the ‘corporate’. Interestingly, apart from this experience the last time I witnessed such creativity, authenticity, passion and humility was working with the digital marketing team at Cancer Research UK.

In general terms, regardless of size, success or budget it seems to us at Mindful Presenter that Charities; Cancer charities in particular, are clearly leading the way in high impact presenting and ‘raising the bar’ substantially for other sectors.

Why is it that many multi-million/billion pound commercial businesses who employ some of the most intelligent, talented and creative people on the planet are being so overshadowed by charitable organisations?

From what I see, it’s not about intellect, talent or creativity because the Charities I have mentioned have those gifts in great abundance too; for me it’s about something far more important.

I call it PURPOSE.

In theory, every organisation in the world must have its own purpose otherwise they would find it hard to function, survive and flourish.

The question is “how clear and meaningful is that purpose?”

If like some, it’s simply to be the biggest, best and to make a profit, then regardless of the calibre of the people you hire and the salaries you pay them many of those organisation’s presenters will be left at the starting line of high impact presenting.

Purpose is a far bigger, deeper and all pervasive energy because it shouts, ‘We are here to make a difference, to serve and change lives for the better’.

Whether you are selling insurance or flowers, sheltering the homeless, helping teenagers with cancer or finding a cure for the merciless disease I believe it’s about the clarity, quality and integrity of the organisations purpose that helps its people to find their true voice.

I believe that the organisations that have and demonstrate a clear purpose in the way they speak do so through:

Personality – In other words, everyone who works in the organisation has one and they are encouraged, empowered and inspired to help their individual personalities shine through. They are discouraged from becoming the corporate or organisational spokesperson and supported to truly be themselves.

Understanding – It’s the organisations who understand that it’s not about products, services, systems or processes that leads them to success it’s about people first and foremost. The organisations who make it their absolute priority to understand as much as they possibly can about everyone who connects with them are the ones with the strongest voice.

Respect – How many times have you heard an organisation say ‘Our people are our greatest asset’; then give them unrealistic targets and deadlines and the workspace suitable for a battery hen?

How many times have you heard some of the biggest brands in the world brag about how important their customers are to them, yet when you try to call them you are greeted with a plethora of numbers to choose from to find the correct department? When you do finally find what vaguely sounds like a good number to press you then have to listen for several minutes to a message telling you how important your call is whilst no one bothers to answer it.

The organisations who truly know how to treat people and connect with them don’t disrespect them like that.  They are human, straightforward and genuinely treat their staff and customers like the sons and daughters, mothers and father that they are.

Position – They know exactly why they exist and the value, significance and impact of their existence for everyone they connect with. That means they have a position and place in this world which extends way beyond making a profit.  It’s that position which supports and influences everything they do and fuels everyone associated with it to feel a part of it and want to do everything in their power to help it succeed.

Open – It’s the organisations that are transparent, honest and allow everyone to express themselves with complete openness that understand the value of the spoken word as well as the written. That openness serves to break down barriers, remove inhibiting boundaries and help people to feel free to be who they really are; to make mistakes and to learn from them, and recognise that its fine to be vulnerable.

Self – esteem – Given that we spend most of our time at work it’s the organisations that go out of their way to build, support and nurture its people’s self- esteem who have the greatest impact when they speak. The very culture of helping people to develop their confidence, self-esteem and personal impact encourages and helps people to be heard and understood.

Emotional Intelligence – It’s the organisations that recognise that everything we do as human beings we do so in search of a feeling. Whether its security, safety, significance, excitement or simply peace of mind, they know full well that it’s their job to create an environment where they know how people feel and are constantly striving to help them feel better, who have the strongest voices.

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling widgets, wine or weekends away, if you have something to say and you can’t say it with PURPOSE you will find it very hard to connect with your audience.

Unfortunately, whilst most organisations would not only claim but insist they have the level of PURPOSE I’ve described, when it comes to helping people to communicate their ideas I believe that many still have a great deal of hard work to do.

Despite everything we know about high impact presenting there are still far too many organisations whose PURPOSE is conveyed as:


Unnecessary detail






I’m exaggerating of course most businesses aren’t that bad; or are they?

I’ll let you decide…

We live in a complex and dynamic world full of intelligent, creative, responsible and talented people working hard to make a living and make a difference in their own way. Imagine what would happen if all of the leaders of today’s businesses recognised the value of PURPOSE as displayed by the charitable organisations I’ve mentioned and the many others who work hard to do the same.

I believe that it would radically transform the way in which we communicate and connect with each other as we present ourselves in business.

Every week we work with organisations whose people tell us that they find it really hard to present their topic effectively because it’s just so boring.

Our view is that there is no such thing as a boring topic, only a boring presenter. We believe that it’s the presenter’s job to look at their topic in the same way as the Education and Awareness team at Teenage Cancer Trust and the Marketing team at Cancer Research UK look at theirs, with PURPOSE.

That of course like most things in life is ‘easier said than done’ because the responsibility and challenge lies at the top amongst the executive and senior management team.

That is where PURPOSE is created, nurtured and cascaded so that everyone in the organisation lives, feels and makes their own personal contribution to it.

It doesn’t have to be as noble and profound as the work that so many of our brilliant charitable organisations are doing, it’s about leaders leading by example and creating the culture and climate for everyone to work in an environment filled with PURPOSE.

Does your organisation present with PURPOSE?

I really hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please feel free to share it through your preferred social media channels below and subscribe to our mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image: Courtesy of dreamstime.com/

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