Becca Hawkins is the Director for Compassionate Care at Providence St Joseph Health, Oregon Region. She has an extensive background in oncology, hospice and palliative care. Becca has made contributions to the oncology and palliative care field as a nurse practitioner, educator, speaker, and writer.
Becca recently attended Red Sky’s Executive Speaker Training. The following post was written by Becca recounting her experience.
I’m what most people would consider a “seasoned speaker”. For nearly 35 years of my career in medicine, I have given presentations to audiences across the Pacific Northwest, the nation and in other countries on topics ranging from death and dying to physician burnout to oncology. If you knew this about me, you’d likely wonder why I would sign up for an executive speaker training with Red Sky. I took Red Sky’s speaker training about a year ago and went in with two main goals.
First, to validate that the way I was presenting was correct. Second, to see what new things I could learn, or more importantly, what
bad habits I could break.
Often, “seasoned speakers” think they have it down. They believe that they are doing well because their evaluations are coming back on the positive side. I personally think it’s dangerous to believe that you have nothing to learn, even when you do something often or professionally, like public speaking. With any skill, we can develop bad habits that we are oblivious to and could be better if we put ourselves in the position to receive feedback and expert coaching.
There are several areas of improvement that most speakers need to evaluate. A bad habit I often notice in speakers is the irritating yet common use of “um” or other fill-in sounds instead of training yourself to be silent and comfortable with a pause.
Another is the lack of understanding around how critical it is to present with your whole self, not just your voice. Where should you
be looking as you speak and for how long? How can you use your hands to emphasize a point and where should you place them when you aren’t? How loud should you speak, with or without a microphone? And how about the supporting materials you are using in your presentation? I’ve seen far too many slides that people try to present that are unreadable and ultimately distract the audience from what the speaker is saying.
Most speakers have learned by trial and error, with little feedback or training. I’ve found that being a frequent speaker does not make you an expert speaker. The kind of training that Red Sky offers is critical to speakers that want to share their expertise with an audience or want to be influential in their meetings. Speaking is both a skill and an art. It must be practiced to be perfected.
What I appreciated most about this training is the environment. It is supportive and welcoming, regardless of your level of speaking skills. They give specific and critical instruction of foundational speaking skills, while working specifically with you to craft and improve your personal speaking style. The skill development portion is concise and tangible and the practice, coaching and feedback is incredibly insightful. The knowledge you walk away with can be seamlessly applied to your next speaking engagement, meeting or conversation. Regardless if you speak occasionally or frequently, speak to large or small audiences, speaker training has something for you to learn and evolve.
The bottom line – influential leaders are skilled speakers who can communicate their vision, knowledge and motivation. What are you waiting for? Be the best leader you can be by being the dynamic speaker that you need to be.