An exclusive workshop was offered to the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) alumni community recently with a focus on improving public speaking skills.
On Wednesday, August 25, the successful Alumni Information Series launched itself into a new school year with the debut of its first interactive online workshop.
Five decades of alumni took part in the Words From Your Mouth workshop hosted by Sean Khan ’93. It featured three exercises, a test of silence, speaking on a topic while saying the punctuation aloud, and speaking on a topic again and mentally saying the punctuation.
“It makes people more self-aware and present. They participate more fully in all daily experiences,” says Khan, founder of Words From Your Mouth, a corporate communications instruction service. “They realize they are in control of their lives, the way they speak, and how others view them.”
“Sean’s opening remarks reminded us that the world sees us through our words. Whether we are speaking with our colleagues in a professional setting or casually with friends, our words are a projection of our personas,” reflects Michael Bakaic ’07, a frequent Alumni Information Series attendee.
Khan introduced and explained five areas that speakers struggle with:
- Filler words - used to fill the silence as the speaker organizes their next thought;
- Silence - being uncomfortable with silence has become a habit as we are consistently surrounded by noise;
- Self-awareness - being aware of different aspects of self;
- Self-consciousness - becoming overly self-aware;
- Words per minute that one speaks often influences how the audience perceives the speaker.
“The workshop presented key tenets to be employed in exercising one’s command over their voice. Sean's delivery was interactive, providing practical and actionable lessons. One clear point that I absorbed through this workshop was to slow down while speaking,” says Bakaic. “A slower cadence provides much-needed time to think before speaking and allows the audience to register meaning. The strongest endorsement of the workshop’s value came from the audience members: each one of us willingly engaged in the daunting act of public speaking with so much zeal that we went well over our scheduled time. I left the workshop feeling more confident and itching for the next session!”
Khan concluded the session by answering questions and offering tips that participants can use in their daily lives. They included, reading more as a larger vocabulary provides speakers with additional words to use instead of traditional filler words; meditating and spending time in silence; recording and timing yourself talking to slow down speaking time; and reminding attendees that the nervous energy felt before a public speaking event is okay and normal, it means the speaker cares. He suggested that the speaker should embrace the feeling but not dwell on the emotions, rather imagine them moving through the body.
“I hope the participants realize that filler word usage can be reduced,” shares Khan. “It will not only help you to communicate more effectively in a business context but also with family members and friends.”
“Alumni workshops like Words From Your Mouth hit on all aspects of the SMCS motto: Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. Goodness through time spent with our SMCS family, knowledge gained from Sean’s experiences, and the discipline to strive for constant self-improvement,” says Bakaic.
If you missed this installment of the Alumni Information Series ‘Words From Your Mouth’, watch it here: