"Good presentations are born in the torments of creativity" — why sommeliers need to know how to make presentations

Pasha Mnukhin

Pasha Mnukhin

Pasha Mnukhin - a sommelier, who delivers lectures and lays the groundwork for understanding wine. Co-Founder of the sommelier and gourmet school. He creates a course about the history of wine on YouTube in a format of video presentations.

Pasha graduated from the most prestigious global wine school WSET level 3 (Wine & Spirit Education Trust). Winner of the contest "Best Cavist of Ukraine - 2017".

He attended our presentation design courses twice.

— Tell our readers a little bit about yourself. Where do you work? Why did you choose this career?

— Hi, I'm Pasha Mnukhin and I'm a sommelier. I have been working in this field for over 8 years. Nowadays, I work as a brand ambassador and represent the brands of Wine Bureau company. Good Wine store is the largest alcohol and food store in Ukraine and Europe. I conduct product tastings and deliver lectures: basically, I just pour wine and talk about it. Product presentations take 80% of my time.

It all started when I went to work as a merchandiser in a company with lots of famous alcohol brands while studying. The work appeared to be very exciting. The field is not large, so you can become the best one if you make an effort.

— Why do sommeliers often have to make presentations?

— I am usually invited to sommelier schools to deliver lectures and the presentation is an essential part of it. The topics are complicated, with a lot of difficult words that come from German, Spanish, Italian, and French. So, the explanation is easier with slides. I also include maps of wine regions in my presentation. Moreover, I try to explain with the examples: mountains are holding up the air, it doesn't rain, and therefore beautiful grapes are grown. This process requires visualization.

— You are being interactive with the audience at wine tastings. Do you have any tips for handling any type of audience?

In my field, there are lots of terms that people simply do not understand. You need to explain them in plain and understandable language.

"If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself"

I make presentations under the motto: "If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself." I try to explain wine as if it was for a six-year-old child. You need to be simpler, more understandable and people will reach out to you.

Pasha always speaks the same language as his audience

Of course, you keep the audience engaged with jokes and questions. Active communication helps you to give presentations that don't put people to sleep.

— Have you had any failures while working with the audience?

— There is always a person in the audience who is smarter or trying to seem smarter. They always want to comment on each point. I had such a person in my first commercial presentation. He talked a lot and almost took my place as a speaker. So, it's better to say it upfront to such people, that you will be happy to hear them out at the end of your speech.

— Have you studied public speaking somewhere?

— Yes, I took different oratory courses. I attended "Oratory Club Svoia Rubashka", it's a part of the international network of oratory clubs Toastmasters International.

In the courses of Anna Bineeva, I learned to control and adjust my voice, and got rid of fillers. Working with your voice, trying to make it clear and vibrant is the most important part of oratory skills.

Pasha shows at his lecture how to use decanter

— Why did you take a PowerPoint course?

— Even though I worked hard on my presentation skills, presentations weren't great because of my bad design skills.

As a result, I decided to attend two small Reprezent workshops in Chasopys. I loved them.

Then I went through two full courses. I passed a large evening course and graduated with the second place in rating. The course was interesting, so studying felt like a breeze. Afterward, I attended the course again, but a shorter one. I would even like to attend one more. Why not?

To become a good specialist in any profession, one profession is not enough. I practiced oratory skills a lot to be able to talk about wine. I went to presentation design courses to complement my story with proper visualization. So, to become a good specialist you need to connect the knowledge and ability to visualize it.

There are three pillars: product knowledge, the ability to tell and the ability to show

— How did your presentations change after our courses?

— I learned about 70-80% of the tools I have never heard of before.

Also, now I know how to look for images and how to work with them.

Moreover, I learned how to work with fonts: font design trends, common rules of using different styles and methods of their combination.

The greatest discovery for me was Morph. This is the tool that moves maps through a seamless transition. For instance, if I show French wines, then on the first slide I show a map of the country. On the next slide, I zoom in and show a part of certain regions.

When I managed to use Morph, it seemed to be great for videos on YouTube. Using a picture of good quality is priceless.

— Do you make YouTube videos about wine?

— Yes, and for that, I use PowerPoint all day long. I'm currently recording the tenth video about the history of winemaking. Besides I have plans for a hundred videos about different wine regions, etc. It helps me to understand and learn more about the history of wine. It's awesome, if people like them.

— Tell me about your process of making presentations. Where do you start? How much time do you spend and what is the hardest thing?

  1. Firstly, I collect all the information about my topic in both Russian and English.
  2. I read the text attentively and divide it into small paragraphs.
  3. I give a title for each paragraph - this is the main idea for the slide.
  4. I am looking for appropriate pictures, draw charts.
  5. I make slide by slide.

On the courses, I learned that if there is a lot of text on the slide then either the text is unnecessary or the speaker is. People either read or listen. Before the courses, I had 3-4 sentences on the slide. It turned out that this was too many. One picture per slide. So, the presentation becomes more interactive, but the workload increases.

If there is a lot of text on the slide then either the text is unnecessary or the speaker is

For a long time, I was interested in perfectionism: aligning everything under the ruler, looking for animations, making everything perfect. As a result, making everything perfect could take 5-8 hours, just as much time as the creation of a presentation.

But now I use the Pareto rule in my life. 20% of the spent time will bring me 80% of success. I make a presentation to cover the topic fully and be technically sufficient.

— Share a secret on how to start understanding the wine?

— Ideally, you should go to the wine tastings. The ticket price is about 500-700 UAH. You come to the chamber institution and taste 5-6 types of wines among 10-15 people. A sommelier or facilitator tells you what to pay attention to and explains everything.

Buy wine with the price of at least 150 UAH and higher. Moreover, It's better to buy white wines, as they are more difficult to spoil. I recommend the Spanish ones.

Read Oz Clarke's book: "Introducing Wine: A Complete Guide for the Modern Wine Drinker". There is a cool platform, Wine-Searcher, where you can find the best wine in each region, their price, and average grade.

Drink Riesling grape wine. Delicious.

Drink, read, buy, taste

— We wanted to come up with a metaphor for a presentation connected to wine but did not succeed. Do you have any suggestions?

— There is a phrase, not about the wine itself, but about the vine - the vine must suffer. This expression is very common in the world of wine. It means that the best wines are obtained not from vines that grow on the plain or rich soil, but from vines that grow almost on the rocks. The vine suffers, sticks its roots while breaking through the rocks. These sufferings give birth to great wine.

We suffer like a vine. You need to suffer to make a good presentation.

To make a great presentation, you need to go through the torments of creativity

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