Teaching Emerging Leaders to Speak with Confidence

Recently, Volunteer Victoria’s Emerging Leaders Network offered a five-week public speaking course to a small group of individuals made up of mostly ELN members.  It was taught by Ginger Brunner of Dynamic HR Solutions Inc. and received rave reviews from all participants.  In this blog post, guest blogger Yasmin Rampuri (ELN member and on staff at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria) shares her experience as a participant in this important skill-building course.

Along with 11 other brave souls, I’ve just completed a five-week “Speaking with Confidence” course which was offered through Volunteer Victoria’s Emerging Leaders Network.

Our excellent facilitator, Ginger Brunner, took us on quite a journey.  We went from trudging up to the front to address the class like there was a funeral dirge playing in the background to deciding we better keep meeting now that the course has ended so we can practice more!

How did we get here?  We began by jumping right in, each doing a short impromptu speech on the very first day–and to our credit, every single one of us managed this.

We had two speech assignments during the course:  the first one was 3-5 minutes and about ourselves; the second was 5-7 minutes about something that inspires us or that we wanted to inspire our audience about.  In these assignments we explored speech structure, how much and what kind of preparation works for us, and built delivery skills.  We learned what “crutch words” are and counted them.  In both instances as we listened to one another’s speaking assignments, so much was shared about who we are and our lives, we feel very connected to each other now!

We also had a good review of pointers in giving and receiving feedback, and supported each other through our learning by giving honest, kind and useful comments to one another as we each took our turns at the front of the room.

At the end of the course, Ginger asked us what our main takeaways were.  Here is an amalgamated list of the top ten things we learned:

1. Practice!  Breathe!  Embrace the pause!
2. Strategies for reducing crutch words, such as umm, y’know, like, etc.
3. Speech structure (opening, body, conclusion)
4. Less is more; don’t include too much info, or make up stuff to fill time
5. Look at audience; engage them by expressing your emotions
6. Feeling more confident and courageous; more comfortable with impromptu speaking
7. Knowing what kind of preparation and what amount works for each of us
8. Remembering the audience is on our side and wants us to succeed
9. Constructive feedback is valuable, and best given in “sandwich form”
10. Knowing the space, audience and other details before presenting

We were also encouraged to carry on in some way, by finding a Toastmasters group that suited us (there are many in the Greater Victoria area), or by continuing to meet.  It seems we’ve chosen the latter.  Having come through this adversity together – doing something that is at the top of most people’s list of scary things to do – we are a very bonded group now, and I look forward to seeing everyone again as we begin to practice together on our own.




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