The Institute - Session #4 - The Fellows Tackle Public Speaking and Communication

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.

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Emily Tran
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Emily Tran is a licensed LVN and RCFE administrator since 2012. Her passion for advocating for older adults and their care is one of many driving forces that motivates her to...