GAP London - Photo by David Hume Kennerly

Photo Credit: David Hume Kennerly

Last month, I was in London for the Global Ambassadors Program, an incredible partnership between Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Vital Voices Global Partnership. This program recognizes that women are a driving force for economic, political, and social change around the world; it brings together women who are at a tipping point in their professional, business, and leadership paths and connects them with established women executives for mentorship and learning. This particular program in London focused on women from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe whose countries have faced a number of challenges, such as humanitarian crises, ongoing conflict, and post-conflict economic rebuilding.

“Although they come from very different countries,
they all face the same communication challenges…” 

As the communication trainer for the program, I taught public speaking, business networking, and media skills to these women. Although they come from very different countries, they all face the same communication challenges: How do you speak clearly, concisely, and persuasively in order to inspire a group to take action? How do you promote your work without sounding too self-aggrandizing? How can you overcome the butterflies in your stomach before you walk on stage or in front of a camera? Many of the women also faced additional challenges in being among the few women in their industry, needing to overcome gender stereotypes and cultural expectations.

One of the participants, Meryam El Ouafi, is a successful businesswoman in Morocco who is preparing to bring together the largest gathering of women entrepreneurs in her region for a conference that will propel the issue of women’s economic empowerment to the national stage in Morocco. For Meryam, developing her public speaking skills is critical to raising awareness for her cause: pushing Morocco’s economic growth forward through promoting women’s empowerment.

“…public speaking is more than simply giving  speech or presentation;
it’s about finding your voice and your courage to speak…”

No matter where we live or what we do for a living, we all need public speaking skills in order to build our business, raise awareness of our community’s challenges, or foster social change. Anytime we speak in public, we have an opportunity to educate, persuade, or empower a group of people to take action. Teaching the women in this program not only helped them in their professional lives but also improved their confidence and helped them raise their voices on behalf of their important work.

What’s the one thing you would like to improve about your public speaking skills? Please share it in the comments below. Let’s inspire those around us, one speech at a time. Also, if you have not already, please sign up for my monthly newsletter to learn new tips and tricks for improving your public speaking skills.

Remember that public speaking is more than simply giving a speech or presentation; it’s about finding your voice and your courage to speak. I look forward to helping you on that journey.