Continuing the dog theme in posts lately, this one is great – and it relates to presentations. Meet Balou and Joey Asher (Balou is on the left).

Joey (Mr. Asher) is the president of Speechworks and Balou is his black-lab mix that was adopted at a PetSmart rescue day last year in Sandy Springs, Ga. And today’s post is a guest spot by Mr. Asher and Balou.


This is Joey Asher and I know if Balou could only talk and use PowerPoint, I’m sure he’d be a great public speaker. That’s because he understands how to connect with people. It’s about connection not perfection, and Balou understands that you can do a lot wrong if you establish great rapport.

Balou makes lots of mistakes. He eats the insoles out of shoes, chewed the upholstery on our nice living room sofa. And I won’t bother describing the “gift” he left for us in the basement on Thanksgiving. But we forgive Balou’s mistakes because we love him. When I’m working at the kitchen table, he sits at my feet. When my kids come home from school, he runs to the window and starts barking for joy. And he does this hilarious thing with this ratty stuffed panda where . . . Well you get the idea.

Like Balou, great public speakers understand that you can overcome mistakes with connection. They’re not worried about forgetting a point, using an awkward phrase, or having their hair out of place. They know that if they connect with the audience with energy, eye contact and stories, all will be forgiven.

Balou displays lot of passion, and if Balou were a public speaker, his best trait would be his passion. Balou has no trouble expressing his excitement. When I’m about to take him for a walk and he sees me grab his leash, he goes berserk. He leaps, twirls, and sneezes repeatedly (Sneezing is how Balou shows excitement). That excitement is contagious and endearing. Great speakers also show passion.

Balou makes great eye contact, and to connect with people, you need great eye contact. If I say, “Hey Balou”, he looks up at me. If he wants to go outside, he looks at me and barks. When I come home from work, he shows he’s happy to see me by looking right at me and wagging his tail. Similarly, great speakers understand that eye contact is critical.

Balou just loves you, because Balou understands that you win affection by showing affection. We love Balou because he loves us and shows us in dozens of ways. The same is true with great speakers. They show their affection for their audience by addressing their key concerns rather than giving a generic speech. They leave plenty of time for questions. They then answer those questions with a helpful, sincere tone. Audiences return the love that you give.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that Balou knows how to sell himself so well. His livelihood depends on it.

Joey Asher, and Balou


I have not met Mr. Asher, but I like his approach to presentations. I read his newest book “How To Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You From The Competition” recently and found it full of great tips and analogies for presenters of every type. More of his wit and insights are at his website,

– Troy @ TLC