Interview with ‘Is there a TED-style talk in you?’ graduate Damian Richmond

When you have an idea to share and a mission to accomplish (especially one that will contribute to a better world) you just have to take that leap of faith and speak up about it! Assisting conscious, conscientious business leaders to do just that is the motivation behind Slow School’s “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” course.

Damian Richmond, Community Development Manager at bankmecu, presented his TED-style talk “Making a difference everyday” at our March 2015 speaker graduation night. In the following interview, Damian speaks with Slow School founder Carolyn Tate about his learning experience.

Damian Richmond Making a Difference every

Carolyn: Tell me about your role as Community Development Manager at bankmecu

Damian: I look after not-for-profit organisations that are community customers of the bank. I work to understand their issues and then provide personalised banking services to help them achieve their goals. bankmecu is an amalgamation of credit unions originally formed to support regional or occupational communities, such as teachers, where everyone has the desire to support each other. The co-operative movement is still at the heart of what we do and overlaying that is our commitment to the environment. I’m very lucky because I get to do good in the communities we’re involved with.


Carolyn: Why did you do the “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” program?

Damian: In my role at bankmecu I often present to forums or conferences and talk about the values alignment. I try to explain the uniqueness of bankmecu as a customer owned responsible bank, and the products and practical matters of banking with us, but it can come across as a ‘sales pitch’ rather than emphasising the social or environmental values banking with us offer. Clearly the products and service are important but they’re not why people bank with us. We have so many great stories to tell that truly demonstrate just how dedicated we are to the environment and our communities and making a difference. Being able to present our stories in a TED-style would be a great way for me to talk about responsible banking.

Carolyn: So what are some of these stories?

Damian: There are so many to tell. There are stories like the fact that for every car loan we give out we plant around 17 trees at our Conservation Landbank to offset carbon emissions, how we choose our suppliers according to their environmental impact, the biodiversity projects connected to our goGreen products and the way we run traineeships in Gippsland to support jobs in the local community. We have a responsibility and commitment to be a responsible bank and help all Australians. There are many very specific stories we can share about individuals we’ve helped and even our own personal stories as employees.

Carolyn: How did you feel before turning up to your first class?

Damian: I was nervously excited. Like most people, public speaking is one of my fears. The course was always going to be a big challenge but also a tremendous opportunity for professional and personal growth. I hoped it would give me some great skills that I can use internally and externally at work, as well as personally.

Carolyn: How do you think the course will help your team?

Damian: In our first class I learnt a lot about how to tell our stories in a way we haven’t thought much about before. I’ve already been able to pass on a few ideas to my team and got them thinking about stories they could share that will bring out their passion and purpose. We have a unique advantage in that we are unlike any of the other banks. For example, we don’t reinvest in coal or fossil fuel mining. What we don’t do is as important as what we do do. We have awesome stories that need to be shared both internally and externally.

Carolyn: Now that you’ve finished the course and performed your final presentation, how do you feel?

Damian: I definitely feel a real sense of achievement now that I’ve completed the final presentation, knowing that all the time, all the work and all the hours debating what to say and how to say it all paid off into that one event. It feels like the same sense of pride that you would get as if you had just handed in a thesis or just completed a marathon that had taken months of training in readiness to the big event.

Carolyn: How will you use what you’ve learned?

Damian: We spoke about the idea that ‘every sentence must have its place and every word in that sentence must earn its place’ in a presentation. This really taught me that every presentation I do from now on needs far more preparation time. I’ll definitely be practicing them many times over to ensure I am happy with how I will communicate to the audience each time I’m offered to do so.

Carolyn: What have you taken from the experience?

Damian: I initially thought the course was around ‘public speaking’ but it is much more than that, it’s about public communicating. The course really forced me to rethink the preconceptions that I had around presenting at any forum event or group presentation. There’s also been a lot of support from my colleagues and they’re all really proud of how I went, which is a bit of a buzz.

About the course

The the last “Is there a TED-style talk in you?” program was a five-week course generously supported by bankmecu. 14 students were guided through a series of classes designed to help them unearth their big idea and craft a five-minute talk around it. The course culminated in a public graduation night on Tuesday 3 March, where the graduates delivered their talk in front of a live audience.

This course is facilitated by four of Australia’s leading speakers and facilitators: Jon Yeo (curator of TEDx Melbourne), Yamini Naidu (business storyteller), Sandy McDonald (TEDx speaker) and Rob Moorman (creative and videographic strategist). Our next course commences on 14 April.

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