Boone County Emerging Leaders Hosts Session on Improving Public Speaking Skills

On May 25th, Boone County Emerging Leaders, a Boone County Development Agency (BCDA) program, offered the third of four sessions on improving communication. This session, Public Speaking 101 – I Can Do This, provided participants with knowledge and tools to speak with confidence both in the workplace and in their volunteer work.

Public Speaking 101

Eight leaders from across Boone County participated in the event, which was hosted by Highway 14 Brewing Co. and led by Molly Brummond, assistant dean of student development at the University of Nebraska College of Law and Erin VanDeWalle, speech coach and language arts teacher at Riverside Public Schools.

Topics included managing anxiety, creating a plan, and practicing stance and delivery. Throughout the session, participants were asked to engage through role play and practiced various tools such as body language and eye contact as they were discussed.

Anxiety and Public Speaking

In the first half of the event, participants learned how to identify and address their anxiety by forcing themselves to use positive language about the upcoming experience. This included identifying what success would look like and visualizing themselves in front of an audience. They also learned breathing tools, how to pose and relax their muscles.

Professional Tips to Get You Through Your Next Speech

During the second half of the session, attendees learned key public speaking lessons from VanDeWalle, which included:

  1. Be poised: identify your nervous ticks, appear confident no matter what, and turn your focus from yourself to keep the audience engaged.
  2. Use compelling visuals: make your visuals large, avoid including full sentences, utilize a consistent theme, be conscientious with color and use pictures with humor.
  3. Utilize your most powerful asset: be intentional with eye contact and try not to look at the wall behind your audience.
  4. Attempt vocal variety: pauses can be your friend, use pacing between your ideas and show enthusiasm through your tone and pitch. 

Communicating With Impact: Session Four

The fourth and final session of the 2023 Emerging Leaders program is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., June 22nd. This session is titled: Getting to Yes: The Art of Making the Ask and Getting the Response You Need. Participants will learn strategies to create buy-in and bring followers along so they not only say “yes” but feel good about doing so. Each session is free and anyone interested in participating in the second session is encouraged to register at: