With a post-graduate certification from XLRI and a Masters in Psychology, Prajeet Budhale is a Consultant, Coach (ICF PCC) and a Trainer with 23 years of work experience. Prajeet has worked with over 170 national and international organizations and 40,000 professionals from over 20 countries to help them enhance their effectiveness and productivity. He is the founder of a successful enterprise (www.fourthquadrant.in) that specializes in bringing Return on Investments in People and Process Effectiveness space.
Prajeet’s first book, INFIN-EIGHT, a national bestseller, was the result of his research and extensive work with clients in the area of professional success. His latest book, ‘Golden Books of Business Presentation Skills’ contains tried and tested ingredients for making a world-class presentation. Packed with useful tips on creating a blueprint of the presentation, to practising and going live with it – you will find all that you need to make an effective presentation. In a conversation with CXO Outlook, Prajeet talks about the most challenging part while writing a book, response from readers so far, change that he wants to see in our business community, and much more.
What inspired you to write the book, “The Golden Book of Business Presentation”?
I have been in consulting for more than a decade and have worked with more than 200 client organizations as a consultant, facilitator and a coach. I realized that presentation and communication is by far the most important skill that differentiates a professional. I am sure you have come across professionals, who are good at their work but cannot communicate effectively. Look at how it impacts their career.
During one of my coaching engagements with a CXO of an organization, the CXO asked me for recommendation of books through which he can continue his learning beyond our sessions. While I recommended a set of books, the CXO came back and said that these books gave some ideas but it was difficult to understand how to apply them in real-time.
This set me thinking. What if there was a book which gave you clear steps of how to go about business presentations. I mean, think about it. We have simple steps to tie a shoe lace right. What if we have simple steps for business presentations. What if the book enabled you to monitor and improve your own skill. What if we make this a DIY (Do It Yourself) book. That’s how the idea of The Golden Book of Business Presentation Skills was born.
Today’s professionals are smart, if you equip them with the right basics, they know how to bring the skill alive. With my experience and expertise I focused on making the skill simple and applicable.
What was the most challenging part while writing a book?
Presentations is a bit like swimming. Imagine telling someone that you will give them enough reading material and push them in water after they read about swimming. Will they be able to swim? The probability is weak.
So, the objective of the book itself was the challenge. Making the readers enhance their business presentation skills by reading and applying the read, which gives them the desired results.
To meet this challenge I decided to build the book as I experimented with it’s application in real time. The book got created over a span of time where I authored the key sections of the book, got it to a sample group of leaders and practiced the application with them. This enabled me to check the sections, that readers were able to apply easily and the sections that needed fine tuning.
Am happy to say that this process of iterative learning created a strong end product – the book. I am confident that facing this challenge and solving it has made the book a powerful offering in Business Presentation Skills space.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I am not a traditional author (while I have tremendous respect for them). I am a coach, facilitator and consultant who is working towards enhancing professional effectiveness of organizations. Every skill building I have been involved in is a research opportunity for me. I would say that my decade of research of best practices, experimenting with applicability at workplace for professionals and finetuning by tracking results lead to the book.
I did not start of writing the book till I was confident I had something to share that would be worthwhile for professionals. We work with lot of organizations and charge a premium for developing the skill in people. My commitment to the readers was to get these best practices at an affordable price to them. Imagine if we are able to increase the coverage of people who get exposed to the skill, the quality of conversations in the board rooms, meeting rooms and virtual conferences will be top class. That was the driving force for the research and execution (writing) of the book.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the writing process of The Golden Book of Business Presentation?
I work with some of the most sort after professionals in the country to develop their skills. I have authored another book before this (INFIN-EIGHT), which is a National Bestseller. This sounds like good enough expertise to author a second book with ease, right? Wrong! When I started authoring this book, I was surprised at the slow pace at which I was typing. Not because I am not good at a PC (laughs😊), I have a decent type speed. But because the book throws you a unique situation. In coaching and facilitation you know who the audience and learner is. In a book, you don’t know who the reader is. I mean, you have a target audience, but it is a varied group of people. This leads to a surprising pause in my writing.
I started off thinking that the book was meant for leaders as readers. But as I authored the first chapter, I paused for a week or so and thought. What good would the book be if it cannot help managers become leaders, an entrepreneur become super successful, a B-school grad ace his campus recruitment, a management trainee become a manager, etc.
I could compromise on the writing and funnel out some type of readers or I could write for every professional who is yearning to become better at presentation. I chose the second route. Surprisingly, once this decision was made that the book should benefit every level of professional, the writing took its own seamless course. I guess the clarity of purpose was important for the book to work.
How has been the response from readers so far?
In one word – ‘overwhelming!’ The book has got accolades from the corporates. We have launched a powerful learning program based on the book. The book has featured in Business India, New Indian Express and now with you guys. For me this response tells me that there is a need in professionals to make this skill stronger and I am happy I was able to do my bit to contribute to this purpose.
Tell us about the authors you like to read. What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I can’t speak for all authors (laughs). But I can tell you about me. I believe in life long learning. We grow when we learn. For me reading, listening to audio books and experts is a way to expand our understanding of the world. I believe every book (fiction or non-fiction) has something which will change the way you live forever, if you let it. The books that have influenced me the most in my life are 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey, How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie, Atomic Habits by James Clear, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, I can go on.. but I will stop here 😊
What does literary success look like to you?
I define professional success as ‘enhancing organizational effectiveness through individual effectiveness’. My endeavor to write books is also for the same purpose. I am creative and hence I visualize my visual. So pardon me for painting a picture. Literary success for me is when professionals who read my books are able to achieve greater heights in their profession because of the skills and concepts they acquired from my books. The books I named have made me a better professional, I hope my books do that to the readers too. So, for this specific book I picture leaders, managers and beginners walking out of a presentation, meeting or discussion with a smile on their face. A smile which originates from the self-talk which might sound something like this – ‘Yessss, I nailed the presentation today. Am happy I invested in the book and applied the concepts.’
What is the change that you want to see in our business community?
As a Coach, Consultant, Facilitator and Author who believes in development I think about two changes in business:
(1) We are good as we are: I came across the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ when academic award winner actor Meryl Streep spoke about it. In the marketing intensive world we live in, we are brainwashed everyday that our lives are not good enough – We don’t have the right home, the right car, we are not doing as well as we could professionally, etc. I think this deeply impacts people’s confidence. First thing first if everyone believed in their own ability and works with their utmost confidence the results they will achieve will astound them.
(2) Invest in future: The world is visibly changing. In one life time we have seen wired phones to wireless to phones as a life companion. In every aspect of life there is tremendous change. The only way to thrive in the future is to be adaptable and learn. I find it both funny and saddening that people invest in a Rs 1500 pizza without thinking but hesitate to enroll into programs, books or experiences that prepare them for future. I hope people prioritise their futures better.