“Your voice is your power.” – Veronica Armstrong
Last weekend, I volunteered for an event where the speaker talked about “How to make our voice(s) stronger” or how to speak more confidently in public or professional settings. I’m glad I got to listen to Veronica Armstrong spoke because a few days before the event, I was at another event where the attendees were put in five smaller groups and at time, I found myself feeling intimidated to talk to the others in the particular group that I was in.
Veronica is the President at Veronica Armstrong Law Corporation which focuses on compliance consulting for investment firms. Having worked at BC Securities Commission, her expertise is in Securities Regulation, Corporate Law and Corporate Finance. Also being a well-seasoned speaker and Toastmaster’s member, she is an expert in public speaking, which is why she came to speak about it.
Veronica asked what the attendees wanted to get out of her workshop. The top five things that came up were:
1) How to speak more confidently
2) How to overcome fears
3) How to overcome hesitation (knowing what to say but not saying it)
4) How to keep the focus on the message or the main point of what you’re trying to say
5) How to speak more comfortably with your own accent
To all of the things mentioned above, she said the first step is to “breathe.” As a firm believer in learning by doing, she asked all the attendees to practice breathing with her. So under her instruction, some sat and some stood in a comfortable position, let all our breath out and exhale as much as we could.
The second step is to make oneself comfortable. Here being comfortable may mean without fears or hesitation. She recommended finding out what that fear is and acknowledging what’s inside of you. She also taught us how to do the power pose by pushing our shoulders back.
The third and final step is to speak more slowly so you’d sound clearer. She recommended working on grammar and encouraged the attendees to embrace the beauty in our voices regardless of how we sound like (or our accents).
“Your accent is charming. It makes you sound exotic.” – Veronica Armstrong
Her answer for what to do when feeling intimidated in a group setting was to simply look for the person you’d feel comfortable talking and talk with that person.
“Have courage to be imperfect. But polish the diamond in you.” – Veronica Armstrong
At the end of the workshop, she asked all the attendees to challenge themselves. How? To spend 2 minutes looking into someone’s eyes without saying anything. When 2 minutes is over, talk to each other about how you feel.
Sounds uncomfortable and creepy? It could, she said. So I asked one of my volunteer-friends to try it out with me for fun after the event and asked another friend to time us. We were smiling, at time uncomfortable and at time feeling connected. Two minutes passed by quickly. We talked about how we would recognize each other’s faces so vividly even if we’re in a huge crowd and had a good talk afterwards.
I thank Veronica for allowing me to share her wisdom on this blog space.
I wish her best of health, love, happiness and success.
May all being be able to speak their minds without fears (and with respect).
May all being be able to polish the diamond in them.
May all being be happy.