Interview with Mark DeVolder
What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations?
There is a common thread through each of my presentations. Whether I’m speaking on change, engagement or leadership, the message I want people to take away is this; it’s all about people.
In essence my philosophy can be summed up by my phrase, “The business of relationships.”
How do you prepare for speaking engagements?
All of my presentations are highly customized and designed following in-depth interviews with members of the leadership team. Often, clients will send me important background information, articles and memos to help me prepare for a laser focused presentation. Because of this collaborative approach, I often receive enthusiastic feedback and return engagements. Frequently, I hear comments like, “it felt like Mark DeVolder was one of us.”
How do you handle change?
My approach to handling change is to focus on transitions.
When leaders reflect on the successful implementation of organizational changes, many admit that, initially, the bulk of their efforts focused on change management: what needs to be done, when and by whom. Later, when it came time for the changes to occur, leaders encountered surprising difficulties: dependable employees resisted making the prescribed changes, confusion and conflicts in the workplace, costs escalated and increased sick leave, to name a few. Unfortunately, many leaders assumed that if they planned the change carefully enough, the transition would follow automatically.
Transition Management looks at helping management and staff reorient themselves so that the changes can work. People leave my presentations with tools and a template to effectively navigate transitions.
How are your keynote presentations unique?
My presentations are entertaining, energizing and engaging. (After all, I speak on Engagement so my presentations had better be engaging!)
I am known for cutting-edge content, valuable takeaways, entertaining audience interaction, all illustrated by unstoppable humour and memorable stories.
Let me say a bit more about the interactive elements of my presentation because this sets me apart from many other speakers. You’ll notice that there are three distinct kinds of interaction: my interaction with the audience as a whole, the hilarious and poignant interaction with volunteers and the interaction amongst audience members. This last interaction allows participants to personalize and integrate my content for maximum impact.
What are some tips for improving relationships with customers?
Customer relationships can be summed up in four key areas: competence, clarity, influence, appreciation.
First, customers want a high quality product/or service, and they want it delivered with competence. Customer service is enhanced when we communicate with clarity, providing valuable information in a friendly manner. The third element is influence. When we encourage and invite feedback from customers, it not only helps us to respond to their needs, but creates a cooperative relationship with the customer. The last component is appreciation. When customers feel appreciated, it creates loyalty.
What makes a keynote speech memorable?
Presentations that are memorable stay with people for a long time.
Certainly the entertainment factor is important: stories that people relate to, humour that disarms, content that inspires. In addition, for a presentation to be memorable, it must be engaging;
I’m convinced that participants will be engaged if they make a personal decision and respond. So there must be opportunities for people to respond and integrate the material.
The power comes when there is a swell of commitment to do things differently. Consequently, memorable presentations bring about clarity, simplicity, consensus and buy in. Individuals need to be motivated and equipped to unite together with others to make a profound difference.
This note I received from NASA Spaceport Operations sums it perfectly. “We all left with a better grip on our own humanity and tools to soar higher.”
How does humor factor into your presentations?
Humor is essential in my presentations and I provide lots of opportunities for it.
Humor is not only fun and entertaining, but a valuable learning tool. It disarms, unites, creates a sense of camaraderie and a fun atmosphere. Earlier in the interview, I mentioned three distinct kinds of interaction. Some of the funniest and fun elements in my presentations are the serendipitous interactions that occur with volunteers.
How do you define successful leadership?
A simple definition of a leader is someone who leads. But of course it all comes down to “how” they lead. I believe a leader is and becomes who the team needs them to be.
In a poignant and pointed posting on the website FireYourBoss.com, employees listed the following top six reasons to “Fire their Boss”,
- Lack of trust and/or integrity (32%)
- Micromanagement (24%)
- Lack of feedback (12%)
- Lack of opportunity to grow (12%)
- Taking credit for the ideas & work of others (10%)
- Lack of coaching/support (8%)
In summary, leadership is still the business of relationships.