On Tuesday, May 21, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s Emerging Leaders gathered for the return of “The Circuit: Professional Development Toolkit Series,” powered by Microsoft. This event, in its second year, aimed to enhance the professional toolkit of its participants through focused sessions on communication, professional branding, and strategy.

The day kicked off with a dynamic plenary session led by Second City Works, the professional services branch of Chicago’s iconic Second City theater. Titled “The Director’s Chair: Leading Dynamic Ensembles,” this interactive workshop drew parallels between leading a successful team and directing an improv show. Participants engaged in exercises designed to boost presentation skills, storytelling, rapid problem-solving, and active listening. The session emphasized the importance of recognizing individual strengths, maintaining clear communication, and fostering an agile, supportive team environment. These elements are crucial for creating teams that not only achieve but exceed their goals.

Following the plenary session, attendees participated in “The Art of Persuasion: How to Deliver Powerful Presentations and Influence Decision-Makers.” This workshop was led by Nisaini Rexach, Community Engagement Lead at Microsoft Chicago, and Jodi Bednar, Chicago Office Lead and Senior Partner at West Monroe. The workshop focused on mastering the art of persuasive communication. Participants learned proven strategies for delivering compelling presentations that resonate with a wide range of stakeholders. The session also included practical insights on using Microsoft Presenter Coach, a tool designed to enhance presentation skills. By the end of the workshop, attendees had gained valuable techniques for tailoring their messages to effectively influence decision-makers and leave a lasting impact on their audiences.

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