More people fear public speaking over dying, really?

Did you know that people are more terrified of public speaking than they are of dying? We learned this last Saturday when YWiB was lucky enough to host get vocalized!, a seminar put on by Pamela Hart, founder of Release Your Voice. Pamela is one of those individuals who exudes charisma, confidence, professionalism and class, and we were thrilled to introduce her to the YWiB community.

Pamela specializes in public speaking and presenting with confidence, and has an unparalleled ability to inspire and empower anyone looking to increase the effectiveness of their communications. Over delicious pastries, a splash of coffee and a lot of laughter, we all learned tips and tricks to improve our confidence and effectiveness when speaking in front of a large group. Pamela also taught us verbal and non-verbal techniques to improve our success in one-on-one conversations in both our personal and professional lives.

One of the biggest takeaways? That public speaking is a skill that even the best have to practice, and one we can all learn. The nervousness? It will subside with time, but when harnessed in the appropriate ways, a little nervousness can make you an even more compelling speaker. Above all, we learned that confidence goes a long way. If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you are a driven young woman who is passionate about creating positive change in both your community and your professional life. Basically, that means you’re kicking a** and taking names while carving your own path on this journey called life. What’s not to be confident about?

Much love to all of the attendees and of course, Pamela Hart herself. Until next time!

xoxo Liz

Public Speaking: We all doubt ourselves, until we don't

Every once in a while I’m lucky to be in the presence of an interesting, captivating and charismatic speaker that makes me wonder how they got to be as good as they are.  Sure they have practiced, practice DOES make perfect, but how did they acquire the skills to stand up in front of a large crowd with impressively straight posture, discussing an idea so succinctly for 20 minutes without shaking, stuttering or batting an eye? Recently, I decided to change my career path and underwent a certification program that involved a Public Speaking course.  As much as I wanted to take this course and learn to be a great speaker, the idea of actually having to speak in front of a room full of the people unnerved me.  I had never understood people who enrolled in Toastmasters.  After all, who in their right minds enjoys standing in front of a room full of strangers with judging eyes while you're forced to present a topic you likely know nothing about?  Then I realized, how else does one improve your skills?  Presenting to a mirror will only get you so far.

I’ll never forget the first day I went into that public speaking class. At this stage of the program our classmates didn’t know one another very well so I don’t think I’d be alone in saying it was like being in a room full of strangers. I’m sure we all had similar concerns about what was in store for us over the next couple of hours, feelings of self-doubt and worries of dare I say, choking, on the presentation stage.  Then in walked Pamela, our public speaking professor. Now Pamela at first impression can appear intimidating. She is a tall, excellently poised, noticeably professional and attractive woman who smells of confidence. And she hasn’t even begun talking yet. When she does I realize that while she not only smells of confidence, she exemplifies it through every perfectly annunciated syllable that comes out of her mouth.

But then, at some point, I realize I'm not feeling nervous anymore.  I’m actually relaxed and completely engaged in Pamela’s voice. Momentarily I have forgotten that I will at some point in the very near future, be expected to give an impromptu speech in front of all these strangers.  Pamela has that calming energy most of us dream we had. She can make a room full of clammy hand, nervous stutters feel like they not alone in their public speaking fears and can teach you the tools to remove that doubt. Throughout our first session I soaked up more speaking knowledge than I could have ever imagined learning. I left that first session excited to return for the second.

Pamela Hart, founder of Release Your Voice, can teach you to not only communicate confidently in front of a group, but to make people interested in what you’re telling them even.  She'll teach you the skills to pronounciate your words clearer, stand taller, and breathe the same confidence she does.  Our classroom transformed in ways I cannot begin to describe. Those who could not stand on day-one were leading 10-minute presentations by our last session without so much as blinking out of line.  Pamela taught us how to cater our presentations to individual needs and to ensure you have a “little something for everyone” in every presentation you deliver.  Her talent and passion for what she does is incredibly rare and that is why I KNEW I had to find a way for her to partner up with YWiB. I wanted to bottle her skill and share it with everyone I knew; family, friends, even enemies so they could be better people. She’s THAT good.

Pamela Hart is a game changer and I’m so proud she agreed to partner with YWiB and lead our Get Vocalized! confident communication event this Saturday, May 12th at SFU Downtown Campus. Do not miss out as these skills can be used in every aspect of your life both professionally and personally. Tickets are on sale until Thursday, May 10th at noon, purchase yours today.

chatting with...pamela hart

Sitting down, anytime, with Pamela Hart of Release Your Voice is a special treat.  Having met Pamela through the SFU Public Relations Certificate program where she teaches, I knew she was a connection I wanted to hold on to forever.  Pamela is radiantly energetic and passionate about communication.  She has the magical ability to turn the most nervous public speaker into an impromptu pro in just a few sessions.  It's for this reason I approached Pamela to do an event with YWiB to share her impressive skills with our amazing members.YWiB's newest member, Liz Sauve, was incredibly excited to sit down for a YWiB chit-chat with Pamela and share it with our wonderful community.  Check out her interview and then grab your ticket for our May 12th Get Vocalized! strategic communication event.

name three people you’d like to have a dinner party with

The first would have to be Michelle Obama.  She just seems really cool! I admire her as she doesn't appear to take herself too seriously, yet is a force to be reckoned with.  She has her own style and is not defined by other first ladies that we have seen.  Tommy Douglas is one of the greatest Canadians who embodies what I love about Canada and fosters a real sense of community.  I like the idea that one voice and one idea can change things.  Julia Child would make a delicious dinner.  I met her years ago in Boston shortly before she passed away.  I was in a play and she had nice things to say about every cast member when we met her, she was so gracious.

your career path hasn’t necessarily been linear - you were a theatre princess turned advertising and public relations director, and then in October 2008, you founded your own company, Release Your Voice. what would you say was the biggest challenge you overcame, and how did you do it?

Being in theatre is harder than being up in front of people and speaking now.  I found in theatre I didn't have control over my destiny, directors, they have the control not the actors.  Your destiny in theatre can be decided by factors such as your height.  A turning point for me was when a big actor in Vancouver refused to work with me because I was too tall.  I've worked with Darren Aranofsky and have been on Law and Order, although the experience was great, directors can love you one minute and then the next, they've moved on to another direction.

My biggest regret in leaving theatre would be not having yet won a Tonybut there's still time.  I still feel like I act every day!  I wanted more control over my life and got tired of someone else telling me what to do, so I founded Release Your Voice.  I became an entrepreneur and it blossomed into this business.  Never be afraid to reinvent yourself.

why did you decide to go into the business of coaching others strategic communication skills?

The company was quite broad when it started. I took an entrepreneurship program and thought I'd just do Public Relations but then this woman heard me speak and told me I was an amazing speaker and should share these skills with others.  I discovered that I have an empathetic ear and am good at coaching others in a positive way where people leave sessions feeling good about themselves.  My business grew through word of mouth and the next thing I knew I was off to Kosovo to work internationally.  There was a definite learning curve to being an entrepreneur and there is no such thing as an overnight success.  To be successful takes hard work, but if you love what you do, it's worth it.

 what skills do you find most women are hoping to learn from you?

Often times I find young women are looking to work on their voice because they sound too young and perhaps not professional.  A lot of it is just getting rid of small habits, such as the flirtatious head tilt that a lot of women do.  That is a subordinate behaviour, as is nodding all the time.  You can listen without nodding your head!  It's small, non-verbal things like this that can lead to a woman not being taken seriously.

In different cultures some women have been silenced.  Women need to learn they have a right to say whatever is on their mind.  Women are strong but you'd be surprised how many times I have been told that I've helped a woman find her voice after she has left an abusive relationship.  It's sad to me that so many women find themselves in those positions but it feels really good to know I have helped someone find their voice and feelempowered.

you list your interests as theatre, yoga, reading, and Africa. you also travel a lot for your work with international dignitaries and women in foreign nations. how do you juggle running your own company, travel, and still manage time to focus on your own personal interests?

This work-life balance has been the hardest thing for me and I'm just now starting to get a handle on it.  The first step is being able to say that I can't do it all, nor do I want to do it all.  Be realistic.  Ask for help when you need it because it's okay to not be great at everything!  Once you become more established, it's important to spend your time doing what you most value and surrounding yourself with positive people.

Try to find at least 25 minutes every day of downtime.  In Kosovo, I work with a lady named Bonnie, who was the PR Director for Prime Minister Mulroney.  She encouraged me to schedule everything - yoga, lunch, etc.  Also, fixing my technology has been a big thing.  Getting everything to jive together and working with someone else so that you don't wake up to 300 e-mails before you can start your day.  I'd rather spend a minimum amount of time on e-mail and a maximum amount of time planning my business, my future.

why do you think YWiB and the YWiB values are important for women in local as well as international business communities?

I think that these types of communities are incredibly important.  They are all about support and as women it's good for us to be able to talk with one another.  These conversations and having a sense of community, knowing that we are not alone, gives us power and acts as a sanctuary - a place in which women can be women.  We allow ourselves to have open conversations and laugh, give feedback and get reinforcement for who we are and what we want.

It's important for women to recognize they are not competing all the time for everything.  We can do the same things and still work together. This is one of the reasons I look forward to speaking at the Get Vocalized! Event on May 12th - I am so impressed with what YWiB is all about.  In the African American community, we have women called 'play mothers'.  Your play mothers are the wise people in your life, in addition to your biological mother, and I think it is really important to pass legacies off to future generations.  You know that saying "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger?", well I want you all to know what I wish I knew at your age.


To learn more about Pamela Hart and how to Release Your Own Voice – come to the next YWiB event Get Vocalized! On May 12th.  Tickets are on sale today and they will go fast, don’t miss out!  Location to be finalized.