By Hilary Morefield
For our forth Institute session, the group delved head first into public speaking strategies and communication skills. The Fellows worked together to share small stories with each other and construct them into larger pieces to narrate their personal missions. At the end of the day, each of the fellows presented a short speech in front of the entire group, facing the challenges of speaking to inspire as well as dealing with conflict resolution in public presentation.
Here are a few of the take-away lessons from the session:
Watch for what you like
Sometimes it can feel difficult to connect with certain audiences. In any kind of speaking scenario, when we watch for what we like with whom we are speaking, it generates a shift in our body and mindset that allows us to naturally mimic the listener and be more in-tune. By increasing our external awareness, we can more easily access those we are speaking to and shift how others perceive us as well.
Check in with your listener
As speakers, we have a tendency to attribute certain things as facts about our audience (that person is bored/hates me/is falling asleep). Doing a simple check in with your audience or listener can help turn around these assumptions into actual facts. Check ins range from a quick “how are you?” or “how are you feeling today?” to “do you get this?” or “does this resonate with you?” Who knows. You might be surprised to hear what your audience is thinking.
Not the what, not the how, but WHY
In the end, it’s not about what word we are saying or how we go about presenting them. What really matters is why. What is the value of what we are saying? Why does it matter to the audience? Why does it matter to you as a speaker? By first understanding and expressing why we are speaking on something, we give value and purpose to the what and how of what we’re saying.
A number of our fellows piped in with their own advice on public speaking strategies from their own work and experience. Sarah Saez recommended that the best speaking policy she uses is to simply “to approach people without judgement and with respect”. Kate McDevitt shared that in her work, she usually attempts to ask questions rather than talking first and attempts to learn why her audience is there, so she can better shift her presentation to fit the needs of her listeners.
In the final part of the day, the fellows delivered their own stories with conviction, emotion, and a little bit of humor. Even through nerves, each spoke to their own causes, missions, and goals with true passion.