Siegfried Haack has two passions in life: sales and public speaking. At a very young age, he had the painful experience of a failed oral presentation. His only obsession was to learn how to present more effectively.
During his 35 years of experience in sales and management for local, national and international companies, in both BtoB and BtoC, he realized that those who inspire the world are those who present their ideas and projects the best.
He continued his quest for public speaking and became a member of the Toastmasters International Association, whose mission is to help its members become better communicators and leaders. Siegfried was elected District 59 Director in 2018-2019. In this role, he led a network of 3600 people in 126 clubs in 5 countries (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and the Netherlands).
French Speech Champion (2012 – Luxembourg) and NLP Master Practitioner, he happily gives conferences and trainings on self-improvement, the art of selling and impactful oral presentations! His hobby? Storytelling!
Today, Siegfried helps his clients to present better in order to sell more of their products, their messages and… of themselves.
Me a story
Can you tell us a little story to introduce yourself?
Yes, of course. So, it’s April 1984 and I’m in the hallway of Auguste Renoir High School. Right next to Madame Bantou’s room.
Mrs. Bantou is my sales action teacher and I have to give a presentation for her in a few minutes. I usually prepare my presentations the day before for the next day, but I’ve been working on them for three weeks now. Three weeks to make the best presentation possible. But why 3 weeks instead of just one day?
Well, because Mrs. Bantou, I am a bit of a favorite (laughs) and I really like this teacher. She is also very pretty, which does not spoil anything.
So, I pass the door of the room, I am in front of it and she says to me “go ahead Siegfried, start”.
But after 10 minutes she stops me dead in my tracks and says: “Siegfried, I didn’t understand anything. You’re slurring your words, you’re talking too fast, you’re not using any structure. Listen, go home and when you have seriously prepared your presentation, come back and present it to me.”
I find myself in the same hallway 10 minutes earlier, but now I’m completely crushed. The first thought that comes to my mind is to stop preparing my presentations. Since the result is the same whether I spend 1 day or 3 weeks. But there is also a second idea: I need to improve my oral presentation skills. And that’s when it all changed
Toastmasters: What happened next?
35 years in sales. Yes, definitely. And a lot has happened.
Since my end-of-study internship in the USA where I had to sell books door-to-door to students. For 3 months, every day, I will knock on 120 doors, to make at least 30 demonstrations and 10 sales. That’s the deal!
That’s when I realized that the key to a successful sale is a good presentation. It’s not enough to have the best products. What you need is to know how to make people want to buy. This is something I will have to deal with during my early career. That’s why, throughout my career, I never stopped training with the best: Dale Carnegie, Transactional Analysis, NLP, Process Communication and of course Toastmasters International.
I even set up my own consulting firm where I teach all my clients the art of presenting their services perfectly.
And what did Toastmaster bring to you in the art of presentation?
It’s not only in the art of presenting actually. When you join TMI, you are told that you will become better communicators and leaders. My feeling is that when you become a better communicator, you automatically become a better leader. People who are articulate and have mastered public speaking almost always become more charismatic. They are trusted more too. They inspire and become more credible.
Afterwards, on a technical level, of course, I learned to better manage stress, pressure and stage fright. But also to challenge myself more, more challenges. To go beyond my limits, my comfort zone. And I see it in my daily life.
In terms of leadership, I have learned to manage projects, teams, and of course money. Because I was club president but also district director in 2018-2019 for example. All these responsibilities have allowed me to develop my leadership skills. Because motivating people who are paid is one thing. But motivating volunteers is clearly a step above!
Sometimes my kids say to me, “But why do you keep going to TMI?”
I tell them that if Lionel Messi (Football player) continues to train every day, it is precisely to continue to score goals! TMI is my training ground for public speaking.
But with all your experience, do you still need feedback?
Yes, more than ever! In fact, as I progress at TMI, I realize how much I don’t know, how much I’m missing. The more you master the art of public speaking, the more you become aware of how much you can still do.
Sometimes, you listen to a person who doesn’t speak much and who, with a simple anecdote, is able to move hundreds of people. And then you say to yourself: technique is not everything. I wish I knew how to do what she just did. I just wish I knew how to do it.
The power of the story, of the anecdote can transform a speech and a speaker. It’s a theme I really like and it’s what inspired my Keynote for the conference.
So, if you could tell us a little bit about the theme of your Keynote?
Well, first of all, it’s a huge honor and pressure for me to participate in this event. I’m flattered to have been called to participate.
However, in order to keep some suspense and not to give everything away, I will just tell you that the subject is still public speaking of course but with a different format. I will try to present things using a tool that I particularly like: storytelling. But I won’t tell you more. For the rest, you’ll have to wait for the conference in May!
Ok, we can’t wait to see you there ! Thanks Siegfried!
Thanks to you !