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Six months of the year have whizzed by and before you know it we will be in 2012. I hope you have been able to grow your personal brand in the direction you want so far. Communication skills are an important part of this and I have three articles on presentation skills including the bane of all office presentations - PowerPoint. I also have included my latest article from KIM Management magazine. As always I hope you find these tips useful and continue to let us know your thoughts.

With best regards,

Derek Bbanga

Say it with authority

Communicating with authority and confidence has a great advantage. It is a great way to advance your career as it gives you the opportunity to be seen and heard whether it is by clients, peers or management. The voice is our most powerful instrument of communication, and it is vital that we use it well as it accounts for 38 percent of the impression you make on other people. A good voice enhances your professional stature as well as keeps your audiences attention when you speak. If your voice lets you down when it comes to communication or portraying confidence or you simply want a better idea of what you sound like to other people, try recording your voice and listening to it. The sound we hear in our own heads is not necessarily the one other people hear. I expect we have all formed a vocal image of someone at some time or another. It might be a potential client at the other end of the telephone or a radio personality you love to listen to in the morning. When you finally meet very often the voice does not match up, which can sometimes be quite disappointing!

Are you one of those when you talk always have others asking, “What?” or ask you to repeat yourself? Nothing screams confidence (literally) like a strong, clear voice that isn’t afraid of being heard. Your voice doesn’t necessarily have to resound like Obama addressing a crowd, but you should talk in a volume that can move easily across a room, and in a clear tone that everyone can understand. It is not surprising how many people have a problem with low volume, mumbling, or being monotone and unfortunately it’s not an area people pay attention to or make an effort to fix. It doesn’t matter what you say if people can’t hear you! Weak voices can give the impression of fear or anxiety – death blows when it comes to portraying a confident image.

Some people actually have good volume, and talk in a clear voice, but speak without emotion. The key here is the pitch which should be varied as much as possible. Emphasise points as you go along and be enthusiastic - it comes through in your voice. Whether you are presenting the driest technical subject or regaling a tale to your colleagues, if your voice has no expression no one will listen to it, no matter how important the message; so it is vital that we learn to use the vocal range that we all posses to its full advantage. Make it a habit to practice speaking more clearly with friends or colleagues. By doing this, you’ll build a voice that displays a confident attitude - one that shows that everything you say is worth being heard.

What can I do to calm my nerves before a presentation?

Before any presentation, worse case scenarios flood your imagination what if I forget or if I stumble over my words? Don’t think you need to be perfect in fact a recent study showed that that when speakers were asked to make mistakes during their presentation they were 30% less nervous than when they tried to perform flawlessly. Just don’t tell the audience that you are nervous, they are rooting for you to do well – nobody likes the cringe factor seeing someone fall flat on their faces but even if you make an embarrassing mistake the majority of the audience do not care or even notice and trust me you will NOT die of stage fright. Think positive thoughts by visualising success and concentrate on the message not the crowd. Stretch before coming on stage and breathe deeply to make those butterflies fly in formation. Don’t look to eliminate them completely as you need a certain amount of adrenalin coursing through your veins to give you positive energy. If you practice beforehand you should reduce any feelings of nervousness. And don’t just wait to practice in formal settings but in informal settings like at office meetings or in front of your boss, colleagues etc. Adequate preparation is also the key to success and success is the key to confidence.

6 signs you might be a bad boss

Bosses come in all stripes and shades with varying philosophies about how to manage or lead. You have to show respect for the people you manage, which in turn brings respect for you. As a manager the way you react to other people says a lot about you. Try and think of the effect your actions and reactions will have on others. Show that you care, not only about yourself, but the people you are leading. We are all human beings working together and sometimes life is a compromise.

I was speaking to good friend who has a great job with enviable pay and benefits for a high profile company but all this counts for nought as she gets next to no praise from her boss for anything she does. She is right now interviewing with two other companies. In fact, working for bad bosses is the main reason most people leave their job or and move to another company. Any boss with poor man management skills will cause a drop in work production that benefits no one. For any manager, self-awareness is a critical component of leadership. Do you think everything is going swimmingly at work or have you delved beneath the surface to find out the murky truth in your office and what your employees really think of you.

So here are six tell tale signs that you might be a bad boss.

  1. If your team or people around you are constantly afraid of you or are walking on egg shells around you. Ever look up from the desk in your office and never see people walk by your open door because they would rather walk down to the next floor and come up from the other side to visit the washroom than walk past your door. You should lead by example and positive motivation and not by fear and intimidation.
  2. Manners maketh the man (or woman). If you treat people differently depending on their "corporate standing." Great managers show respect and courtesy to everyone, regardless of position or company.
  3. If you micromanage everything and everyone around you till your employees feel their creativity is being crushed with your neurotic fussiness. You hired them because they could do the job – good, so let them get on with it and don’t be such a control freak.
  4. Do you ever get feedback from those who work for you? A poor manager will ride roughshod over everyone without finding out how they come across to others. Ignorance is bliss and if people won’t or can’t tell you how they feel then this is a breeding ground for revolt.
  5. This one tops the list in many a poll – taking credit for work done by your team or someone else. You know who I’m talking about, he or she hogs the limelight, doesn’t give credit where it’s due or fails to mention that it was a collaborative effort. This is not just being a bad boss but a selfish human being period.
  6. Indecisiveness is a poor leadership trait. You’re leading from the front; your team should trust you implicitly. No-one wants a boss who hems and haws at every turn, is scared to make bold decisions or worse still cannot make any decision. You need to give your troops a clear and compelling direction

Derek Bbanga (This article appears in the June edition of KIM Management magazine)

Recent Work

Since the last newsletter we have continued to work with the staff at Imperial Bank in Mombasa. Also we have ongoing training with assistant mangers at British American. We also worked with the senior management staff of Centum Investments. We worked on more joint trainings with Dolphins Consultants which included training of the management team of FARA Africa in Accra, Ghana.

Groups I spoke to included Deacons and the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors. I recently purchased a Flip Camcorder and have begun doing interviews of industry leaders that I encounter through training or presentations. Here are links to two interviews that I did with James Mworia CEO of Centum Investments (here) and Benson Wairegi Group Managing Director of British American (here) both talking about the latest developments at their respective companies.

Public Image and Dolphin Consultants will be running a two day Public Speaking and Presentation Skills seminar on June 30th and 1st July at the Stanley. Get more information here or call +254-20-2211362 / 382, +254-712-636 404 to sign up. We will also run a one day professional image and business etiquette course on July 22nd. here or call +254-20-2211362 / 382, +254-712-636 404 to sign up.

I was also privileged to be the Emcee during the annual dinners for the Greenhorn Mentorship Programme from the University of Nairobi and the American Chamber of Commerce of Kenya.

The renowned author and motivational speaker Robin Sharma will be in Nairobi on July 16 speaking at the Safari Park Hotel. See more information here or email


About Public Image


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills.

Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market


The problem with PowerPoint

While in Ghana I was working with a company on improving their presentation skills and PowerPoint was big on the agenda. Last year even the sharpest military minds in American were left baffled by a PowerPoint slide, a mind-boggling attempt to explain the situation in Afghanistan. Seen here

'When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war,' General Stanley McChrystal, the former US and NATO force commander, remarked wryly when confronted by the sprawling spaghetti diagram in a briefing.

Nick Morgan ( a Communications Consultant offers 10 things to do in your presentation to pep them up instead of using PowerPoint.

Use props. For most workers, in a cubicle world, it’s sensory deprivation from 9 – 5. The whirr of computers and the A/C. The hum of colleagues chattering away. The beige walls of the cube farm. The fluorescent lighting. It’s amazing anyone stays awake. Offer the audience, then, something physical. Instead of describing that new product on a slide, show them a prototype. Pass it around. Let the audience get physical.

Use music. We have an emotional response to music which is much more powerful than we do to most words. Especially words like “3rd Q results” and “product optimization.” So add a soundtrack to your presentation. It will bring it to life. Do obey copyright and licensing laws, please.

Use video. Video –good video -- has all the life in it that static slides lack. A good clip can enchant, move, and thrill and audience in 60 seconds. You can create the right emotional atmosphere to begin or end a speech – or to pick it up in the middle.

Use a flip chart. Create any visuals you need right there in front of the audience. No need for technology. Just a magic marker and your arm. The act of creation draws the audience in where a slide doesn’t.

Ask the audience. Of course, the best way to draw the audience in is to draw them in. Ask them to tell you their stories – as they relate to the topic at hand. Ask the whole audience or just selected volunteers.

Ask the audience – 2. Break the audience up into small groups and get them to respond to a challenge that you set, a question that you ask, or a problem that you pose. Then have them to report back to the whole group.

Ask the audience – 3. Play a game with the audience – relevant to the topic. Award prizes. Audiences love to compete. Just don’t make the questions too difficult or the prizes too expensive – or too cheap. Only Oprah gets to give away cars.

Ask the audience – 4. Get the audience to design something – new products, plans, or ideas. Give them plenty of paper, sticky notes, Ipads, or whatever you have on hand that they can play with.

Ask the audience – 5. Have the audience create video responses to what you’re talking about. Hand out a dozen flip cams and get them in groups. Give them a limited amount of time – 10 minutes, perhaps. Then show some of the video to the whole group on the big screen.

Combine any 3 of these to create huge audience buzz. Stop thinking of a presentation as a static activity where you show slides to a catatonic group of fellow humans. You passive, them active. Instead, treat them as co-conspirators in something exciting, educational, and fun. Nick Morgan

Feedback from recent training

‘Thank you for uplifting my etiquette skills. The training today was excellent, I have gained something very expensive that has no price tag to it. Thank you very much.’

‘I would like to thank you for the excellent training that you offered us. It was a cut above many training courses that I have attended. Keep up the excellent work!’


My video of the month is also one of the funniest. Check out Don McMillan’s hilarious take on bad Power point. here




Are you looking for a Corporate Emcee for your function – do get in touch

Is your company planning a training event, a sales retreat, or team building?  Find out how Public Image can help at or contact

Office location: 1st Floor at Luther Plaza, Nyerere Rd.

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