Listen to what other people say


John Davey, Director at UniSmart

Michael has a highly energetic and effective style for helping to prepare a talk. I found this style to be very effective for me and my one hour keynote speech was duly put in shape, and I felt confident and well prepared when the time arrived for delivering the talk.

Tracy Ahern, Founder at Au Natural Skinfood

Ever been to a conference with an amazing speaker and then thought it looked easy and that you could do this? I did, what a disaster!

Before meeting Michael – I could not speak to a group of even 10 people nor was I able to pull together anything that was worth listening to; too long, too much detail, poorly structured.  

In a non-threatening way, that was fun Michael taught me to simplify language that I was using, into a way that others would want to hear what I was saying, he taught me simple tools to deliver and to be aware of about myself, eg. when I get on stage I walk towards an audience, this is threatening and I now have a wee Michael in my head making sure that I don’t do this.

Michael is particularly talented with words and storytelling and whether this is for public speaking or simply updating your LinkedIn profile, I highly recommend having a session with him.

I now consider Michael to be my friend and will look to him for coaching on an on-going basis.

Neville Gollan, Customer Manager at Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan Innovation leads a Kiwi delegation of ambitious SaaS businesses to SaaStr Annual annually. SaaStr Annual, held in San Jose CA, is the largest conference on the globe dedicated to helping SaaS businesses share, scale and learn. The 2020 Kiwi delegation to SaaStr Annual 20’ consisted of 175 founders, executives and leaders.

Prior to travelling and attending the conference Callaghan Innovation invests considerable time and effort to prepare every member of the Kiwi delegation so they can maximise the benefits of attending. This includes hosting preparatory workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.


Michael Philpott was invited by Callaghan Innovation to deliver executive speaker coaching at each workshop in 2019 and 2020.   

Ron Boskell, Chair at the Executive Connection Christchurch

Michael recently presented his very special 90-min Small Group Coaching session to our members of The Executive Connection, Christchurch.


Each of our members had past experiences over the years of this type of presentation, but this was different…very different!


Each member was engaged throughout due to the style of Michael’s presentation. Before we knew it, we were composing our ‘speech’, then delivering to small groups in many different ways and finally we were videoed (on our phones) with great take-away value.


One of the elements within The Executive Connection is ACCOUNTABILITY; hence everything we do…we measure, and that includes how we each rate our presenters. In Michael’s case, his presentation was the best and strongest 90-minute workshop we have experienced; his scores were the highest ever recorded by the group with an average score of 9.75+ across the following:

  • Presentation content (1-10): 9.75

  • Speakers delivery (1-10): 10.0

  • Take-away value (1-10): 10.0

  • Degree of relevance to you (1-10): 9.5


If you have read this far, and if you have people on your team who are presenting your business to clients or a large team that they will address on a business matter, this presentation will not fail to see immediate personal growth and the recognition of how important this part of being a leader is to your business.

James Jackson, Development Manager at NGĀI TAHU Property

In conjunction with a another colleague I had been tasked with presenting at the New Zealand Green Building Council annual summit.  A short ten minute presentation on our businesses approach to sustainable developments, including details of a recent project for an audience of 200+ industry representatives was the brief.


Michael helped distil a jumble of ideas into a few simple key messages that could be delivered in the timeframe available.  He also helped us arrive on a simple but effective set of slides to illustrate our message.  Through a series of coaching sessions we polished our delivery and become aware of our personal mannerisms.


The whole process was light hearted and enjoyable.  I’d definitely recommend Michael to someone facing a similar challenge and wouldn’t hesitate to call him should future speaking opportunities arise.

Hamish Brewer, Relentless Tattoed Skateboarding Principal

Having worked with Michael personally I can tell you that he will help elevate your game through a collaborative process, he has a clear passion for ensuring that you succeed. Having spoken all over the world, I can tell you that Michael really helped me enhance my game and I know he can do the same for anyone else out there interested in doing the same. Michael is in a first class speaking coach and even better person who has lived a passionate and full life!

Issac Giesen, First Kiwi to Solo Row the Atlantic

After coming back from spending 70 days solo rowing the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness around mental health I wanted to share my story and some positive mental health tips I used on my row and in life.


Growing up with dyslexia I find it very hard to express what is in my head onto paper (I am even struggling to write this testimonial). Michael has been the big boss and great help in helping unravel the stories and ideas in my head.


I very much like Michael’s teaching methods, he is straight to the point and doesn't beat around the bush.


Cheers for all the help so far Big Mike.

William Trubridge, World Champion & Double World Record Holding Freediver

When I started preparing for my TEDx talk in Christchurch I had public speaking experience, but was mostly just learning by experience as I went.  This was definitely one of those cases where, 'you don't know what you don't know until you know it'!  I was oblivious to what I had been communicating through body language, or to the subtleties of tempo and eye contact.  Michael Philpott opened my eyes to all of these and more vital parts of speaking, and did so in the space of only a couple of sessions working together.  It had a huge impact not just on the quality of my presentation, but the confidence with which I am now able to engage with an audience. For anyone looking to improve their speaking or presentation skills I could not recommend Michael more highly!

Michelle Sharp, Head of IoT and South Island at Vodafone

Not everyone has a full-time speech writer or communications and PR team at their disposal, that's why I get Michael to help me with my speaking. I always need someone with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective who challenges me to push past what I've become comfortable with. I want to continue to grow as a dynamic speaker and I know Michael will continue to help me achieve this.

Lilia Tarawa, Best-selling author & most viewed TED talk in NZ

Michael's strength as a speaker coach is his ability to dig beneath surface and uncover hard-hitting truths. Michael helped me choose the best stories to captivate my audience and convey a powerful, heart-wrenching message. That is the reason my speech is the most-viewed TEDxTalk in New Zealand and one of the Top 5 Most-Viewed TEDxTalks on the planet.


In our coaching sessions Michael helped me identify what I was going to say, how I was going to say it and how to condense my life story into the allotted 18 minutes. His immense knowledge of human psychology was vital to creating a talk people 'couldn't stop watching'.


Even though Michael takes his craft seriously he is fun to work with! He went over and above to encourage me, yet his critical feedback was on the mark. 


Michael did an incredible job teaching me how to regulate the mood and tone of my talk so the audience was able to 'live' the stories I shared with them. He taught me how to command millions of audience members by using raw emotion and powerful story-telling.


What makes Michael unique is that his speaker coaching is comprehensive. He coaches all aspects of speech-development, delivery and performance plus post-talk speaker care. He was able to predict obstacles I might encounter and prepare me to gracefully handle them.

After my talk was posted online his excellent speaker care helped me deal with hate mail, sexism, religious discrimination and social media abuse. Michael's coaching was CRUCIAL to the success of my talk and in my opinion, Michael Philpott is New Zealand's #1 Speaker Coach.

Mark Hubber, Director at New Zealand Financial Planning

We recently embarked on a challenging 10-year growth strategy, with the initial steps of executing this strategy requiring us to do some serious soul searching. 


As we are in the people business, guiding kiwis to financial wellbeing, moving to the next level requires us to focus on our team’s communication skills.


With this in mind, we engaged Michael as our communications coach for our whole team, aiming to improve our internal communication as well as our client relationships. We kicked this off with a 2-hour workshop at our annual conference in March 2019.


We were very impressed with the preparation Michael put in before the workshop. He made a huge effort to get to know us and our strategy, needs and goals.


The results have been great, and our team’s feedback was that his workshop was bang on target and helped us achieve excellent team buy-in.


We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Michael, as he helps us bring our growth strategy to life. 

Andy Freeman, Managing Director at Harcourts Grenadier

Michael was easy to work with and provided us with a new view on how we approach our external seminars.

It was great to get personal one on one training with Michael to ensure the process and content changes were a smooth transition and was well practised before presenting to the public.

Michael was able to explain the reasoning behind the changes to provide clarity and ensure we knew why the changes were being made and how they would help make our evenings successful.


I would highly recommend Michael with any presenting challenges you may have or simply a refresh on any public speaking content and processes.

Ryan Higgs, CEO at OnSide

Being in the audience at different conferences and events, you see a range of speakers. I find great speakers set themselves apart which leads to great opportunities for themselves and the organisation they represent. 


Michael was recommended to me by a colleague and worked with me to craft a talk to a group of young leaders. Working with him was a ton of fun. He has an interesting and very effective process. I learned a lot about the technical aspects of how to construct and deliver a compelling talk. 


He has a great teaching style, is efficient and extremely dedicated to getting a great result. I will certainly use him in the future and look forward to it. Apparently, he has a book coming out? I can’t wait to read it.  

Blair Chappell, Managing Director at Williams Corporation

We engaged Michael to assist us in refining our presentation for our launch into Auckland, Michael did a great job of helping us build the presentation in a way that it showed a clear message, got our key points across all while being able to keep the audience engagement high and it resulted in a very successful evening. The presentation was more or less completely different to prior ones we had done based on Michael's facts and information around how to deliver a successful presentation, we can see ourselves continuing to work with Michael to refine future presentations.

Emily Blythe, CEO at Limpidity

Speaking in front of any audience would send my stomach into knots and have me stumbling as I tried my best to remember my speech word for word. Michael helped me to craft my talk to suit the knowledge base and interests of my audience. He made me aware of tone and speed of delivery and then worked with me consistently until I was confident on every aspect. The first talk I gave after our work together, I surprised myself and walked away with best pitch of the night. It was also the first talk that I really enjoyed giving.

Mark Rocket, CEO at Kea Aerospace

I really enjoyed working with Michael.  He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise.  Michael has helped take my talks to the next level and given clarity on how to structure an engaging audience experience via script development, slide deck refinement and improved delivery.

Karena Gibson, Southern Business Development Manager at Vodafone

Hey Michael, just wanted to feedback how powerful the 10 in 2 challenge was for us all.  It’s the 2nd team session you’ve led us through and the outcome on both occasions, much more than we expected!  Never … have I seen our Sales team (most of us with AD’s) on the edge of our seats for a development session.  You are one clever man with a remarkable energy and innate ability to teach.  There’s a real buzz to put our new skills to work and play.  Interestingly, not only for more powerful communication, but a good take out for effective feedback to.  We want more - will be back in touch soon.

Christian Sax, Design Practice Strategist at Jade Software Corporation

Michael guided us to deliver workshop sessions for 240+ people. Already in the first hour, he's worked out a tailored workshop approach to deliver our training effectively and safely. Without wasting any time, we were doing hands-on facilitation practice to get us stage-ready for our sessions that were just one week away. I can't recommend Michael highly enough to anyone who wants to get their workshop and training facilitation right.

Andrea Brewster, Director & Changemaker at Brewster + Associates

I worked with Michael to take my public speaking to the next level and develop a unique, compelling story for my audiences. Michael's holistic approach helped me to think differently about my presentation and he challenged me to do better in every session. From narrative development to posture and delivery, Michael helped refine every aspect and the result was an engaging, professional talk that got rave reviews! I love working with Michael and would highly recommend him to anyone looking to elevate their speaking and presence.

Steve Ardagh, CEO at Eagle Protect

Michael was referred by a colleague and I had also previously known of him as the TEDx Christchurch speaker coaching wizard. Our business was raising capital and the pitch presentations had to be spot on, we are also always presenting our ideas and stories to potential customers as well.

What I didn’t really realize about Michael was that he wasn’t just a great speaker coach, but a story teller who could listen to me ramble and pick out the nuggets of our story and then demonstrate how to get them across in the best possible manner. Being based 6000 miles away in California was no barrier and online coaching via video conference worked well. I would highly recommend talking to Michael about your story and how you can present it to the world!

Anthony Baxter, CEO at Firefly Digital

I engaged Michael as I was looking to rapidly improve my speaking skills. I know how important this skillset is for business growth and personal development so I was ready to work with some to coach me through this process.

Michael is the real deal, a rare mix of practical and theoretical advice who brings real life experiences to the table.

Since working with Michael, I have delivered two presentations. One of them has helped me secure a large contract that has easily paid for Michaels service for the next year.

Michael has also spent time with my team, getting them ready for Firefly events which have received fantastic feedback. Thank you!

Marian Johnson, CEO at Ministry of Awesome

My new role as chief executive at Ministry of Awesome is a very high profile one with multiple networking and speaking engagements. The only trouble is that the thought of facing crowds of 100+ had me very nervous, unprepared, and completely stressed out. Michael helped me construct my first hour-long talk to sector leaders and worked closely with me to improve my confidence, my poise, my body language and the overall flow of the story I was telling. The result of our work together was that I knocked it out of the park and I’ll happily give Michael all the credit for that success.

Troy Billborough, CEO at Bacon Bros. Burgers

Michael helped me plan, prepare and deliver a graduation speech to 500 people. It was a goal that I couldn’t have achieved without him. Michael turned my simple speech into a powerful message, and I will use him in the future to further my presentation skills and develop stronger communication techniques.

Jordan Watson, How to DAD (Youtube Celebrity)

I usually hide behind a camera at home, in private, then edit my mistakes and deliver it to the world. TEDx was a whole new challenge but Michael had some bloody great tips to help me through the whole ‘LIVE’ process - Cheers!

Eduard Liebenberger, Director of Technology at Jade Software Corporation

Michael has been instrumental in every talk or pitch I delivered over the past 18 months or so. Every time I start out with more confidence that I now know what I’m doing. And every time Michael shares another level of insight which turns my drafts into something much more impactful. The level of engagement and awareness of both my personal work and my organisation has sky-rocket since working with him - and the results have been nothing short of amazing!

Robyn Twemlow, Director at Tourette's Association New Zealand

Michael coached my daughter Analise and I for TEDxChristchurch in 2015. I thought I knew plenty about public speaking - until we started working with Michael. What he taught me about body language and the unconscious signals we send out while in front of an audience were right on the mark and with his help, I felt much more in command on the day. Analise adored working with Michael. He took the time to understand her fears and work with her to overcome them. Even though she was only 11 years old at the time Michael treated her as his equal. His extensive knowledge combined with his patience and naturally affable personality make Michael a superb speaker coach and someone I would recommend to everyone from complete novice to seasoned professional.

Kaila Colbin, Curator at TEDxChristchurch

Michael Philpott is our speaker coach for TEDxChristchurch and he is AMAZING. First of all, he is hugely technically skilled at what he does - he has a phenomenal ability to take a presenter from an early idea to a confident presentation onstage under the bright lights. But almost more important is his passion and dedication. Michael regularly goes far above and beyond in his commitment to supporting our speakers - whatever it takes to make sure they succeed. I recommend him unreservedly.

Alex Tan, Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at University of Canterbury

I have been in the teaching profession for over two decades now and in the course of my career have received numerous teaching awards. So when I was preparing to give a TEDx talk in Christchurch in 2018, I thought I knew how to speak to an audience effectively.

Not until I worked with Michael did I realize that there is so much room for improvement to make me an even better speaker. Working with Michael, who is such a consummate professional, is not a chore or a task but a truly enjoyable learning experience. His expertise in speaker coaching made me more aware of my own verbal and body language and how to use them to be an effective and clear communicator of my ideas.

I have benefited so tremendously from my coaching sessions with Michael that I have transferred that knowledge to my own classroom teaching and this has resulted in even better responses from my students. I wish speaker coaching is available for university students as undoubtedly it will help them become better communicators.

Lindsay Chan, Founder of Watch This Space Christchurch

Thank you for that awesome speaker session plus follow-up run through. I, and I’m fairly sure I can say on behalf of all of us, found it extremely useful.

I am so glad you rewrote the talk because the guy before me had a format similar to what I had originally, and it just dragged on. People were not interested. It was painful to watch.

During my speech, I remember doing an engagement check by scanning the audience a few times, eyes were peeled, right on me, so that’s good. No one was yawning, talking to their neighbour or scrolling through Instagram.

When I did the pull out your phones things, no one pulled out their phones. So I then followed with, “No, really, it’s ok. Pull out your phones.” (With a big smile on my face and arms wide open) And everyone magically obeyed my orders. It was great.

I also used your line from the Seb Humphreys/Calendar Girls mural: “Does anybody recognize this building? Please raise your hand... just a little bit higher... everybody look around the room. These are the people to avoid on the bus.” They ate it up. I felt cheesy, but they loved it. The MC, who is some famous comedian did too.

I went to dinner/drinks that evening. The entire three hours I was there I was talking to people about street art, and it wasn’t that kind where I had to go and walk up to people and introduce myself.


People wanted to come up to me, some even came up mid-convo while I was talking to someone else and interrupted it. That was a first for me. People really wanted to talk about what we were doing.

Fiona Bain, Human Resources Business Partner from Hertz and Ace Car Rental

Thanks for running the half-day session at our annual conference. I received a lot of positive comments directly and then heard via third parties and by ‘word of mouth’ that there was a buzz generated with people expressing how much they enjoyed the session, branch managers in particular.

In addition to this session nicely complementing our personal development curriculum, it filled the “fun” L&D brief too. And I was surprised that in a number of evaluations, what seemed to be the smaller items covered, made such an impact & resonated with attendees to the extent they did. 


So overall a great session, very positively received. Thank you.

Peter Beggs, CEO of Antarctica New Zealand

Antarctica New Zealand worked with Michael from Smart & Wise in 2017 as part of our Annual Leadership Workshop. Michael was able to take the desired state and work backwards to develop a programme which enabled our leadership team to grow, bond and develop a greater sense of teamwork.


Michael’s leadership in the session was professional and well-tailored to the audience. Enough guidance was provided to ensure the team stayed on track, but equally, he let the team drive the programme and make their own discoveries and learnings.


Michael’s adaptability when the planned activities were not possible was appreciated and allowed the team to still achieve the key learnings despite the change in plan. Michael not only responded well but was able to build the experience into the learnings for the session.

Kim Joy, Senior Manager of Westpac

Our Leadership Team Day in December was focused on developing leadership capability, supporting our people and delivering to our customers. We spent time reviewing what was important to the business, setting key objectives and agreeing actions, that we could lead as a team. Wanting to inspire new thinking and challenge ourselves to reach new highs and operate outside our comfort zone, we asked Astella and Michael from Smart and Wise to manage a team event. The result was amazing – they tailored an event that focused us on achieving above the norm, and pushing ourselves to strive for something we had no idea we could do! An enjoyable learning experience we would highly recommend.

Sam Johnson, Chair of Student Volunteer Army

Michael has vast expertise in facilitation, confidence building and story creation with groups or individuals. He played a pivotal role in several projects I have been involved in and operated sessions that our team and clients greatly benefited from.

Andrea Wilson, Regional Training Manager of Fulton Hogan (Canterbury)

Michael Philpott of Smart & Wise has been delivering a very successful ‘Leadership Communication’ workshop for Foremen & Supervisors throughout all areas of Fulton Hogan Canterbury and our southern regions, commencing early 2014. These interactive, thought-provoking workshops have proven effective and popular with this leadership group. The many hands-on activities and group discussion sessions help embed the learning for all.

Fulton Hogan looks forward to continuing the good work with Michael this year.

Sali Mann, Safety Quality & Training Coordinator of Fulton Hogan (Otago)

We have been working with Michael from Smart & Wise for a few years now and every course that he has run has had nothing but good reviews from our staff. Quite often the groups are quite apprehensive about the course, but they become comfortable quickly and open up in discussions and share their experiences. The sessions are thought-provoking and have proved very popular with our Foreman and Supervisors, so much so that we are seriously considering rolling it out to our Management teams.

Kim Stephenson, CSI Safety Advisor of Fulton Hogan (Timaru)

We have used you to deliver Leadership Communication to our foremen and I was lucky enough to be able to attend this myself. I was impressed with how well engaged they all were and the big test with these guys is to get them to participate and you achieved this with ease. There was positive feedback from them. From an organiser’s point-of-view, you are extremely easy to do business with. 


You do what you say you will do, you turn up when you say you will and arrive with the gear you needed to run your sessions. I would be more than happy to have return business if it is all presented in the standard the previous sessions were.

Tyler Brummer, COO of WeVisit

Michael has a natural ability to immediately identify what is holding someone back and take them on a journey of self-realisation where they can accept and move past these barriers. Michael helped us at WeVisit design a programme to help a diverse group of people work through their emotional and psychological trauma to achieve the skills and emotional intelligence needed to connect with themselves, the community around them and feel confident to get into the workforce.


Michael’s no bullshit coaching style and facilitation skills help people quickly make mindset shifts that will last for the rest of their lives. His value is never confined to the job hired for. He analysed and reflected on all levels of our team dynamics which helped myself and my team understand how to better work together. I would highly recommend Michael for any job to do with helping people reach their full potential.

Fleur Evans, Organisational Development Consultant of Meridian Energy

You guys are great. Your workshop was enjoyed by was great for individuals confidence and really helped to bring people together.

Deborah Gilkinson, National Sales Campaign Manager of Cookie Time

The training session that Michael and Tim created and delivered was a fantastic high energy one that had our sales team fully engaged. The result from this 3-hour session was it built seller confidence which positively impacted sales and enabled us to achieve our strategic goals.

David Binstead, Founder at Twice Podcast

Working with Michael will positively shift organisational or individual development perceptions to a whole new level. As a recent workshop participant, I came away impressed with practical and actionable take-outs shared engagingly and professionally. He exhibits mastery of both theoretical learning and development processes and brilliantly judged delivery. For any organisation or individual seeking to reveal and leverage human potential into tangible and immediately beneficial outcomes, I wholeheartedly recommend collaborating with Michael.

Linda McKitterick, Senior Lecturer, Department of Business, Ara Institute of Canterbury

To train 30 diverse young adults to present in a tertiary education setting is a challenge, to say the least. Reducing barriers, gaining confidence and instilling belief in these young people was the value Smart & Wise provided. That was only the beginning. With tight deadlines, language, and in some case culture issues to deal with, Smart & Wise were able to break through and provide lifelong communication skills for these individuals. What is outstanding is Michael’s utter commitment to the client’s achievement. With his professionalism, he was able to gain trust very fast and this enabled learning to occur. When the students saw tsunamis, Michael trained them to not think of them as a barrier, but how to ride right over the top and have fun on the way down! Smart & Wise are a genuine client focused company with compassion and they do positively change lives. This is not only a skill but a gift…Thank you from all of us at Ara.

Erica Austin, Experience Awesomist of Ministry of Awesome

As part of my role in various organisations, I’m required to facilitate workshops and deliver presentations in front of a crowd. For someone who is not comfortable nor confident in doing this, Michael has supported me right from the start of this journey from running through content to effectively using body language, he has helped me build confidence in all areas of public speaking. After working with Michael, I have grown as a public speaker and have embraced every opportunity I can speaking in front of a crowd. Whether that’s to 10 people or to 500 people, Michael’s coaching has provided me with another skill set that’s valuable professionally and personally.”

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