02/12/2009 11:39 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Person-to Person at the Commonwealth Club

On Tuesday, at the kind invitation of Jim Koch, Professor of Management at the Leavey School of Business and Administration at Santa Clara University, I spoke at the Commonwealth Club in Silicon Valley. My presentation was about my newest publication, The Power Presenter. As support of one of the key techniques in the book, treating presentations as a series of person-to-person conversations, I showed a video clip of Liddy Dole at the 1996 Republican National Convention. Mrs. Dole, in an endorsement of her husband, Senator Bob Dole, departed from the usual dais speech from on high and descended to the floor of the convention. There, she proceeded make a series of one-to-one engagements with people who had been involved in projects with her husband.

After my presentation, Bill Peacock, a member of the Commonwealth Club's Silicon Valley Board of Advisors, and the man who had graciously introduced me, concluded the evening with a short story - about Liddyy Dole. She had been a fellow classmate of Bill's at Harvard Law School where they were involved in a special project to present a legal brief to a group of sitting judges; one of whom was a member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Because of the amount of research and the density of each brief, the law students were provided a lectern to hold their detailed information, and from which to address the panel of judges.

Each member of the class delivered the brief from behind the podium - except for Liddy Dole, at the time, under her maiden name, Elizabeth Hanford. She started from behind the podium for just a few moments, and then walked out to engage directly with each judge, in a series of person-to-person conversations. So effective was her presentation, she was declared the winner.

Liddy Dole learned the power of person-to-person conversations at an early age, and carried that insight throughout her career. It worked for her, it can work any presenter. It can work for you.