Develop Confidence in Your Speaking Skills Using an Online Journal & a Few Friends

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Are you finding yourself holding back from speaking up at virtual meetings, even when you are bursting with a new idea or critical feedback? The Women Seen and Heard Speaker’s Journal (Anita Perez Ferguson, PhD and Lois Phillips, PhD) provides an opportunity to overcome any anxiety you might have in speaking situations, including teleconferencing. The Speaker’s Journal provides a structure for thinking about why you might be reticent.  As you gain clarity about your conversational strengths, role models, and your core values, you’ll be more ready to speak up about what’s on your mind. You’ll also learn ways to prepare yourself and your remarks to ensure you’re on point and ready for the Q and A.

As a co-author of the Women Seen and Heard Speaker’s Journal, I realize that women enjoy discussions with peers and learning with other women who have a common goal of becoming a dynamic presenter. Group settings are more enjoyable and ultimately more helpful for many women who enjoy sharing experiences and “lessons learned.”

Women’s voices are needed to discuss and debate the issues that will shape the future in every sector of society. To foster this idea, my co-author and I have created a virtual workshop to help you develop your unique voice.

How to Initiate and Maintain Your Women Seen and Heard Virtual Workshop

WHO: Find 4-6 friends or colleagues who want to become more confident, dynamic presenters. Send them an email inviting them to purchase the Women Seen and Heard Speaker’s Journal and meet online to discuss the participants’ journal entries.

HOW: If the group cannot meet in person, they can meet weekly for an hour on a particular day using an online meeting software (i.e. Zoom, GoToMeeting, FreeConferenceCallHD, etc.).

WHAT: Choose an online journal entry format (i.e., Penzu Post, Goodnight Journal, or TBD). One person acts as Facilitator, opening a free online journal account and invites each member to join allowing group members to post and share journal entries online. This saves time and effort.

Using the stimulating prompts provided in each chapter of the Women Seen and Heard Speakers’ Journal, you will reflect on your background, values, interests, and share what you’ve learned from responding to the prompts and reading one another’s journal. Questions might include:

1.    Am I reticent to speak up in groups or at meetings and why (or why not)?

2.    How did those “dinner table conversations” with family members shape who I became in terms of a shrinking violet or lively conversationalist and confident debater?

3.    Who are my role models and mentors (or how can I find some if I don’t have any)?

4.    What is my particular style of presenting ideas and opinions?

5.    How have my speaking skills advanced (or limited) my choice of professional and personal goals?

6.    How my unique cultural/ethnic/racial background is an advantage at the podium or conference?

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PROCESS: Discuss each person’s postings without judgement and in order to find common ground. Participants can share what they’ve realized about their history, attitudes, behaviors, and then brainstorm steps to develop positive speaking experiences (e.g. being on a panel, leading a meeting, speaking at a staff meeting, speaking at a high-stakes board meeting or on TV).

SUPPORT: The Facilitator has three tasks: 1) provide log-in info for weekly journal submittals, 2) send virtual meeting invitations, and 3) send regular meeting reminders.

WHEN: Meeting weekly to maintain momentum is ideal. Prior to each meeting, participants post their own journal entry and should read each other’s journal entries.

BENEFITS: You can use this format to rehearse for upcoming presentations and gain suggestions from trusted friends and colleagues.


At your final meeting you should:

1.    Share what you’ve learned about yourself through this workshop (your attitudes, behavior, mentors, role models, etc.)

2.    Choose 3 steps you’ll take for continuing to develop dynamic speaking skills.

3.    Based on what you’ve learned about yourself, what will you do more of, less of, and/or differently in the future? (be as specific as possible)

Have questions? Post a comment in the Comments section of the blog or on the Women Seen and Heard Facebook Page!

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