For college women leaders
Take the Microphone to Grow Your Platform Like a Leader
By: Maria Pascucci, Founder & President, Campus Calm®
The following article is an excerpt from Campus Calm's
Campus Lead Her Success Kit
The leadership lesson that I resonated with most in Robin Gerber's book Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way was the story of Eleanor's learn-as-she-went approach to public speaking. Eleanor was by no means a great public speaker from the start. In fact, according to research that Robin cited in her book, Eleanor was a terrible speaker in the beginning. She was a terrified speaker as well! Robin wrote that Eleanor's "off voice and cadence would cause unexpected high notes; she appeared painfully self-conscious and giggled nervously." Eleanor had chutzpa though, which is gutsy audacity. She was brave enough to learn from her mentors, allowing them to give her feedback even when it was tough to hear.
When I first launched Campus Calm and began receiving speaking invitations from colleges and universities across the country, I was excited and terrified! My favorite class in college was Persuasive Writing; I even toyed with the idea of someday becoming a speechwriter. Never in a million years did I think I'd actually deliver my speeches though, especially since I'd never taken a public speaking class in my life!
Like Eleanor Roosevelt, my passion to share my message to grow my platform with a goal to help others trumped my fear of failure. So I jumped in, studied the great speeches, practiced, listened to my mentors' feedback, and improved one speech at a time. Thanks to video cameras, we can now watch our performances after the fact to learn. I will admit that watching yourself on camera is brutal in the beginning! I cringed every time my voice squeaked or I laughed at something I said and no one else laughed with me (cue to take out that line from the speech!). Even to this day, I learn something new every time I give a speech, and I often learn more from my "failures" than my successes.
After I led a presentation at the 2010 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders NCCWSL, two young ladies approached me to say, "WOW, you were amazing! We could never speak like that!" While I was flattered, I thought long and hard about those compliments in the weeks following NCCWSL. I came to the realization that I hadn't done my company mission and vision justice because I had let my ego get in the way of my message. I had become so consumed with trying to be the "perfect" rehearsed public speaker – the result was that I dazzled my audience instead of really connecting with them. Now I strive to be more real on the stage. While I take time to craft a meaningful speech and practice it until I'm comfortable delivering it, I no longer strive to be perfect. The result? Students relate to my message more, and many tell me that I inspired them to give speaking a try. When you can inspire others to give voice to their leadership, that's when you know you're leading effectively by example.
Let's collaborate to help your campus and community give voice to their leadership!
- Club It Up!
- Dish It Out!
- Share it Worldwide!
Create a "Give Voice to Your Leadership" club on campus, or in your local community. Invite group members to share their favorite TED Talk speeches. Discuss as a group what worked about that speech. Notice any patterns developing when watching one great speech after the next? Now give it a try! Remember to put your own flair on it because you have a unique voice to give to the world. Encourage each group member to sign up for a time slot to give a short speech during a club meeting. The rest of the group provides moral support, and meaningful, respectful feedback. Your classmates not only learn how to use their voices, they also practice giving and receiving constructive feedback, a mark of a great leader!
Host a "Leaders Speak Out Night" on campus and invite your whole community to attend. Invite your club members to share their speeches live in front of an audience. Talk about what your club members learned through this experience, sharing how their confidence grew as leaders. Recruit other students to your club. Give special press passes to your student media groups on campus, inviting them to get a behind-the-scenes look on how to conceptualize, promote and implement an event on campus so others can learn as well.
Start a "Leaders Speak Out" youtube or Vimeo channel. Have your club members share their speeches with the world. Take your video camera around campus and invite your classmates to tell the world what they care about and why. Invite others to upload their videos speaking out to grow their platforms. You just created a worldwide public speaking classroom! Not bad for your leadership resume. ;-)
Never pass up an opportunity to take the microphone and begin growing your leadership platform. We need your ideas, and we want you to lead by using your authentic voice!