Presentation Summit 2019: Conversation with Ilene Bergelson

Presentation Summit 2019: Conversation with Ilene Bergelson

Created: Thursday, August 22, 2019 posted by at 9:45 am

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Ilene Bergelson

Ilene Bergelson
Ilene Bergelson is an NYC-based, presentation coach who loves adventure and has supported speakers from six out of the seven continents to embrace their adventurous side. Boutique firms, as well as Fortune-500 companies have sought Ilene’s expertise to optimize presentation content, increase confidence and prepare keynote speakers, panel groups and moderators alike to deliver excellence, improve outcomes through facilitated discussion, and enhance interpersonal communication within teams. Upon noticing that many brilliant people undermine their expertise by the way they communicate, Ilene developed EmpowerSpeak™ with the intention of elevating the level of effective and conscious communication in the workplace.

In this conversation, Ilene talks about the Presentation Summit, being held in San Antonio, TX this year from October 6 to 9, 2019.

Geetesh: Ilene, you are doing a crash course on Sunday, Present with Presence, and a session along with Nolan Haims on Monday, If I Only Knew. Can you step a little beyond descriptions, and tell us what attendees can expect to learn from your talks?

Ilene: Yes. Rick Altman and I were talking about of the passion this audience has for meaningful messaging and designing an experience. That experience includes delivery, as well as design. And whether a field professional is a presenter or not, each of us has something important to say, so all the more reason to be our most effective.

Have you ever sat in the audience and felt like the presenter was engaging yet also relaxed, and was confident yet also approachable? Our message will be received more fully if it resonates with our audience — whether that audience is 1 or 1M. To do that, it’s actually essential that we be ourselves when we deliver —and that we understand that process, whether we are the ones leading the room or supporting someone else to do the same. This is why Rick and I first discussed bringing Present with Presence to the Summit.

During the 2-hour session, we’ll take advantage of specific tools, skill builders and best practices straight from the theater (where I made my living for many years). We will be on our feet often to get lots of practice at purposeful connecting. There will be improv games and other experiential and self-reflective segments. As many of us know, the skills for presenting with presence takes effort, experimentation, self-awareness, and risk. It takes being fully accessible to the audience, relating to them and leading from who you are, rather than leading with what you know. It takes practice to fully draw on everything you bring to the table as an individual: utilizing your body, breath, voice, personality, etc. and I believe that practice should be fun whenever possible!

On Monday, I’m really looking forward to If I Only Knew with Nolan Haims, Nolan and I had been trading war stories and we realized that there was a lot to be gained by presenters and designers having a better understanding of each other’s creative process, and some procedural steps that can help both parties bypass common (and painful!) pitfalls that can undermine (or totally derail) everyone’s best work. We will give tips on what questions to ask each other, what information is important to share and how to align on design — upfront. We’ll also wade into the sometimes tricky waters of exchanging feedback throughout the design process.

Our goal is to bridge understanding for a better partnership… and for everyone to have an easier time delivering their best.

Nolan and I feel strongly that the audience be able to raise questions and issues that they are having around the speaker-designer dynamic too, so we are including a very open, honest and, of course, confidential Q & A segment where we can discuss and offer solutions.

Geetesh: What is it that brings you to the PresentationSummit?

Ilene: Nolan Haims! Nolan is a friend of many years, trusted colleague and he has designed a number of my presentations. He was the first person to introduce me to the Presentation Guild and the Presentation Summit. Nolan, as many people know, is multi-talented and I respect him greatly. The way he described the Guild members and the passion for bettering the presentation experience was really exciting. Then Sandy Johnson and I had several rich discussions about the Guild, which led to Rick Altman and me having a couple of brainstorming sessions…and all of it made me want to be a part of things even more.

Geetesh: You run EmpowerSpeak™. What exactly is EmpowerSpeak? Also, if there is one tip you can share with Indezine readers that will help them become better presenters, what would that be?

Ilene: EmpowerSpeak is the name (and brand) for all my trainings, coaching and tools. It stems from the belief that effective communication connects both parties — and that can be truly empowering.

One tip to be a better presenter? Gosh, it’s tough to choose.


Breathe whenever you feel stuck in your head (from forgetting what’s next or distracting yourself with negative self-talk), when you’re deep in the weeds and getting off-track, when you’ve disconnected from yourself and/or your message (out of nerves or trying to micromanage what you are doing), when you’ve lost the pulse of your audience…breathe and take a beat. The mere seconds you take to breathe can plug you back into the moment so you are able to respond to the audience right there in front of you. After all, it is about them 🙂

Big 4 Connect EmpowerSpeak

Big 4 Connect EmpowerSpeak

What is the Presentation Summit?

Presentation Summit 2019

Presentation Summit 2019

For nearly two decades, Rick Altman has been hosting the Presentation Summit, a highly popular event that is geared towards users of PowerPoint and other presentation platforms. is the official Media Partner for the Presentation Summit.

Date: October 6 to 9, 2019

Location: Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, San Antonio, TX, United States

Register now!


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