Alongside talks from key players in the film industry, Inside Pictures holds workshops dedicated to the development of leadership skills, conflict management, negotiation and presentation skills. These sessions are a very popular component of the programme, and are led by David Solomon, Managing Director of Sun and Moon Training.

DSDavid’s background includes professional acting, sales and learning design. He founded Sun and Moon in 2003 to bring his experience as an actor and salesman to empowering people to communicate more effectively. His work as a facilitator includes courses on team building, sales, negotiation, coaching, presentation, feedback and customer experience. In the last four years he has developed and delivered courses for Inside Pictures, Odeon, Icon, Studio Canal, Arts Alliance Media, NBC Universal and the Film Distribution Association. David’s sessions use interaction and participation to develop the skills and tools needed to operate with confidence in a complex industry. Participants speak highly of the contribution the sessions have their development as business leaders, and many find the techniques they learn go on to be invaluable in deal-making and company building.

We asked David a few questions about his approach, what it is about his training that yields such good results, and for some of his top tips for effective presentations and negotiations.

What are the objectives of the training sessions your run for Inside Pictures, and what methods do you use to meet these objectives?

Overall we aim to build on what people are already doing well and add new ideas to take them further. This means refreshing and refining existing skills and analysing where new ideas will take an individual further. We do this by keeping every session very interactive – a conversation not a presentation – and including as much individual feedback as is possible in the time we have available. Getting people to actually do things is always more powerful than intellectual understanding so we are always role-playing, practicing and presenting to put techniques into practice. Beyond that it has to be energetic and fun – to make the learning stick.

What are your impressions of the Inside Pictures programme and its participants? 

I’ve found all participants, regardless of their experience, seniority or competence to be enthusiastic to try new techniques and share old.

Do you have any IP memories that stand out? 

On one course someone shared that Steve Jobs had used a tactic in negotiations of extreme emotion – losing his temper and being quite aggressive – and that this had often resulted in good deals. So we secretly asked one member of each team to “do a Steve Jobs” in the role-play without warning anyone including their own team that they were going to do it. The results made great viewing – unexpected behaviour, curious sidelong glances from fellow team members and interestingly, better deals got struck in the process!

The topics your sessions cover include Negotiation Skills, Presentation Skills and Conflict Resolution. Are there any common tendencies that you notice in the way producers and executives in the film industry approach these areas? 

My main observation is that the issues on the table are often intangible, emotive or creative. That coupled with an industry that has more than its fair share of assertive people means that as a rule handling conflict is something most delegates fear and want to understand better.

Your sessions are a very popular part of the programme. What do you believe is at the heart of successful professional development training?  

I believe that many if not all of the answers are in the room so my job is to facilitate that and bottle it so everyone can use it. For me training is a conversation coupled with action and feedback. We all have a short attention span so however interesting we may feel we are, we have to keep changing the dynamic in a room to keep people engaged. I’ve always believed that it has to be fun. Not just because fun is fun but because laughter is powerful emotionally, so if you learn something when you are having fun you are more likely to remember it. If you remember it you are more likely to use it and that’s what makes training effective. I also think it is very easy to be complacent. What was successful with one group may not be so with another, so you have to be flexible and read the room. If it isn’t working then change the agenda. Finally, and I don’t want this to sound cheesy, I really love what I do and I’m sure that helps.

David Solomon’s Top Tips for Powerful Presentations:

  • Rehearse
  • Less is more
  • Open to engage and close with impact

David Solomon’s Top Tips for Effective Negotiations:

  • Prepare
  • Question and listen
  • Trade vs Concede