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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Public Speaking the USA Way
By Del Costello
As private teachers we have a broad range of skills that we need to cover in our curriculum. The art of public speaking here in NZ is not nearly as popular as the drama class but we all know, in most cases that public speaking is a life skill that will help our students stand out from the crowd, now and in the future.
My 2013 search for professional development lead me to the National Speakers Association Convention in Philadelphia, USA. 
The National Speakers Association (NSA) is the premier organization for professional speakers. Since 1973, NSA has provided the most comprehensive resources and education designed to advance the skills, integrity and value of its members and the speaking profession.  With over 1300 delegates at the convention this year, delegates ranged from authors, to motivators, to sports people, actors….you name it they were there. What we all had in common is that we are paid to speak.  Key note speakers, trainers, presenters, tv and radio personalities all turned out to extend their professional learning.  The NSA has four key competencies:
  • Eloquence – The art of speaking and the use of powerful and persuasive presentations. This means creating the proper setting for an effective presentation as well as the concrete skills related to presenting, performing and theatrical methods.
  • Expertise – The knowledge, skills and experience in a specific area. Speakers should know which body of expertise is ideal for them and be able to effectively research and develop their content.
  • Enterprise – The purposeful undertaking of a successful speaking business venture. This includes business management, sales and marketing knowledge, as well as the skills necessary to generate income through speaking engagements and other revenue streams.
  • Ethics – The principles or standards governing the conduct of those in the speaking profession. Ethics is the foundation and summation of the three other competencies. It is about who you are as a person — both personally and professionally – and encompasses your reputation, character and integrity.  
In total there were over 150 learning opportunities, daily key note addresses, and many opportunities for serious networking.
Over the 6 days I attended a fantastic range of sessions and in the next few CUE publications I will share with you just some of what I have encountered.
Philadelphia is a long way from Palmerston North and I can honestly say that I was quite apprehensive. I was travelling for 3 days around the other side of the world solo to a convention of huge proportions. I knew no one and this stretched me to say the least.  I certainly need not have worried.  The trip was enjoyable and there are many benefits of travelling solo (compared to travelling with my tribe of a family it was a breeze).
Once at the Convention I was warmly welcomed by everyone.  Even if I had wanted to, it would have been impossible to go under the radar.  Everyone were so interested in each other.  I meet some of the most amazing people. A Mormon woman from Salt Lake City who was a famous inspirational speaker, a guy who wrote “Facebook for Dummies” and many more.  Networking was number one and it did lead me to ponder a comparison of attending such an event solo in NZ. I am certain it would be a challenge to meet so many new people and if you wanted, I think you could go a whole 5 days in NZ without meeting someone new.  Networking does not come naturally to many kiwis- a lesson we could take from the Americans. “The power is in the people”

Convention Center-Marriot Hotel, Philadelphia

The technology was amazing!

Not much time for sightseeing so just a few famous spots.
I did meet the two other New Zealanders at the convention-lovely, motivational ladies who make a great living in NZ and Australia speaking.  The NZ Chapter of the NSA is an active organisation and I will be looking at joining next year.
The other big difference I noted about the convention was the willingness and openness when it comes to sharing personal intellectual property.  The sessions were practical, real and engaging.  I got an insight into a White House speech writers secrets, the low down on media interview from a consultant to some very big names- she comes with a very big price tag….just to name some examples of those willing to give away their knowledge.
I asked one presenter about the reasoning behind the open approach to sharing and the response was “We share, the industry grows, we all do better, end of story. Why wouldn’t you?”.
In NZ we are more cautious about sharing our knowledge and I think it does hold us back.
Six intense days in the USA had been a highlight in my life time of professional learning.  I have joined the NSA (international) and subscribed to “The Speaker”magazine.  The 2014 Convention is in San Diego California- here’s hoping I can make it!
On the last day if Philly I spent the day at the String Theory Performing Arts Charter School. Thanks to Twitter for putting me in contact with the CEO of the education organisation.  I spent the morning with the Principal and her junior team while they were planning (it was summer vacation so no kids). Had a tour of the school and lunch with the senior managers.  A revolutionary approach to education that means they have 1200 students and a huge waitlist. This is not a fee paying school and they are opening a high school in 2014.  Check out  From my observations this was a charter schools success story.
Once again, thank you Deidre Snedden and the Trustees-another opportunity provided by your legacy.  I will be sharing knowledge with all our members in CUE and at other PDS opportunities.
“We share, the industry grows, we all do better, end of story. Why wouldn’t you?”

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