Public Speaking Workshop: Overcoming Nerves and Creating Connections

By Kristen Drew
Graduate of Gilbert Leadership Class XXVI and member of the program's Board of Directors

Let’s face it, I don’t know anyone who LOVES public speaking. I have done it a few times and I always get nervous and think I am going to freeze, forget what I have to say, or completely flub my words! I took the public speaking workshop as part of the Gilbert Leadership program, partly because I needed to earn some points and partly because I really wanted to get better at this public speaking thing.

In preparation for the class I was given a topic to speak on ahead of time, so I could prepare. I was also assigned to “wrap” someone else’s presentation. The class was fairly small, with about eight people, which meant I could not just sit back and hide, I actually had to participate! Facilitator Mark Newman was kind and welcoming and was a great example of how to speak in front of a group and setting the tone with a nice balance of professional, yet comfortable. His wife, Mickie, also assisted by listening to the first few speakers and then recapping, or summarizing, what she heard, also called the “wrap”. This was new to me but really helped my listening skills, which I was not expecting, and considered a bonus. We all got to try this, and I have used this technique many times since.

My time speaking included the usual nervousness, but the facilitators and the others in the workshop offered specific feedback and tips, that I have used and practiced, to help when I speak in front of groups of any size, including one-on-one conversations. The participation of everyone in the workshop allowed me to learn some valuable nugget from every speaker.

In addition to enhancing my presenting and listening skills by practicing both, I felt equally rewarded by what was shared from the other speakers and the value that listening to others tell their stories brought to me. I learned some very personal things from classmates that I did not know very well, and those moments in that workshop brought us closer as classmates, and as humans. The personal connections we made that day are as vivid in my memory as the speaking and listening techniques. It is one of my favorite memories of my time in the Gilbert Leadership class and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone to participate in this workshop.

Alumni are invited to attend the next Public Speaking Workshop on Saturday, January 22, 2022, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Click here to learn more and register.