One of the hardest things anyone can do is put themselves out there in front of an audience, big or small. In fact, the fear of public speaking, glossophobia, is believed to affect up to 75% of the United States’ population. It’s an incredibly common form of anxiety — and it’s a problem that DECK tackles head-on.
DECK, founded by Emerson alum Mike Teixeira ‘94, is a company made up of presentation designers, coaches, and writers committed to taking flat or otherwise unengaging presentations and changing them to something truly unique. In short, they help companies, teams, or leaders tell their stories in ways that have the most impact.
We recently connected with Mike Teixeira to learn more about his company, the philosophy behind it, and what opportunities await past or current Emersonians.
How would you describe DECK to someone unfamiliar with it?
“We’re a presentation consultancy and design studio.”
What’s the “problem” DECK is trying to solve?
“At the high level, we’re trying to make presentations less awful. And that means less awful for people trying to put them together and less awful for people to listen to. More specifically, we’re teaching people how to put together a presentation in a more concise way. We have a whole method for helping people map out presentations that saves them time, a design philosophy that is simple, and training to get whole teams (and leaders) comfortable with presentations.
Being a refugee of the corporate world, I saw fear and wasted time over and over again when people tried to create presentations. Weeks and weeks or months and months of people wringing their hands, getting together, and trying to figure out what to present, how to present, putting slides in, pulling slides out… We’re trying to get rid of all that so people can get back to their main job. It’s a save-time, save-money kind of thing.
The other thing is that we want to help companies increase clarity. It gets crazy now with all the communication channels and how many people get involved with overall marketing and communications, and so we want to help specifically leadership clearly state what their goals are, what their ambitions are and how they’d like to transform the world.”
How would you describe your company’s culture?:
“I like to describe it as a group of responsible adults. I came from a company that wanted you there the full eight hours (if not more), they micro-managed you every step of the way, they penalized you if you took too much time off. It was just a police state.
When I was starting my own agency, I read this great quote from Ian Sohn, the CEO of Wunderman Thompson Central, about how he wants a company of responsible adults. I believe DECK is giving you a mission paying you to go out and make a change in the world.
If you want to execute that mission, then this is the place for you. And we won’t nitpick you — we trust you; you’re a responsible adult. If the work doesn’t get done, then we have to talk. Other than that, come and go as you need to.
So we have a very open culture. We allow parents to bring in their kids, run household errands, visit colleges, whatever makes their life less stressful. We are in a new world of 24/7 connectivity; let’s stop pretending the “office” is the only place where work can get done. It’s been great so far. It’s exactly the culture I was hoping to create.”
What are some examples of goals that DECK sets each year? How do you work toward those goals?:
“One major goal that we have in the office, that stay mindful of, is the number of people we’ve helped. So this year we helped 25 new clients build presentations and communicate better.
We’re always trying to get more and more people out there that we’re helping. That keeps it personal and makes us mindful of the impact that we’re having. Our goal is not to make more money; it’s about improving communication.
We also want visually beautiful presentations. We want visuals to wow and excite, to bring beauty into the workplace. That’s the other thing that makes us excited to help clients.”
What interests you in recruiting from Emerson College?:
“I went to Emerson College. I remember the communication fire that was lit there, and I want to hire people with that fire in their belly, people who really believe that clear and empathetic communication can change the world.
I find Emerson students — not always, but a big majority of the time — really appreciate that world view.
The other thing I like is that they do have to go through public speaking. They can usually articulate their ideas really well and speak up when interacting with clients. And lastly, the hands-on training at Emerson is really great. A lot of schools teach theory first and don’t let their students really gain that hands-on experience.”
What are some examples of opportunities for current or past students?:
“We’re always looking for freelancers. We have three full-time team members now, and we’re going to grow into six over the next couple of months.
We also use an army of freelancers. We do that because it just makes sense in the creative field. Illustration is a great example. We sometimes have people and clients who need illustrations that are very technical, complex, and in-depth, while sometimes we have clients who need something a little simpler and fun. We couldn’t staff all those different types of illustrators under one roof, so we really need a strong network of people who are available and that we trust.
The other way Emersonians can help is to spread the word. Read our blog, follow us on Instagram, connect us to your network, and try to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. Think about instilling what we’re about into your own company and presentation culture.
We don’t want to be the keeper of the knowledge. We want more and more people to learn how to present better and to teach others.”
Do you have any advice for students currently pursuing an internship or career?
“One thing that I was thinking about before our call was:
If you’re a current student, take some time to take a business course or read a business book and understand how businesses create goals and how companies go about planning their year. Think of your discipline as a way to help companies reach those goals.
Picture how your major could apply to the business world. Then, you’ll be ready to leverage what you learn at Emerson in the “corporate world” and make a living out of it. This is the key, even for those who want to pursue less commercial avenue, doing what you love for corporate clients can help you to afford to pursue your passion projects on the side. Not to mention you can make a wider impact.”