Teaching Public Speaking Skills

I have been teaching public speaking skills since 2014. However, this year has been special because I am celebrating my 20th anniversary teaching a wide array of skills. I started my journey teaching pre-ballet classes, adult ballet, flamenco, modern dance, creative dance, dance fitness, ESL and now public speaking skills.

My Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy as a teacher, product of a background in performing arts, TESL, Toastmasters and Conference Interpreting, has evolved thanks to every student I’ve met along the away and can be summarized as follows:

  • I love to teach fundamental skills. I believe that if students have a strong foundation they can go on to developing their own learning.
  • I believe in positive and honest feedback. This approach takes a great deal of humility, respect and the ability to observe, diagnose and offer strategies based on different learning styles.
  • Hands-on learning. Why? Ask Confucius: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
  • In order to keep teaching I have to keep learning. Based on the principle that I can only teach what I know, I study and stay open to comments from students and fellow trainers.

Teaching Highlights of 2017

I generally teach Public Speaking skills for non-native professionals, and this year, for the first time, I have a review in Spanish. If you would like to get an idea of what my classes look like, go ahead and have a look.

Fortunately for me, that has not been the only review this year. Conference interpreter Aida González del Álamo was kind enough to publish a review of one of the workshops I taught as part of the InterpretimeBank program to reward its supporters. These workshops are unique in their kind because they bring together conference interpreters and speakers, both as trainers and as students.

Bringing Conference Interpreters and Speakers Together

Brussels1Conference interpreters often complain about speakers’ poor performance, but there are very few opportunities to discuss this issue and see how communication could be improved.

During the public speaking workshops I taught in Madrid and Brussels, we all learned some valuable lessons that I would like to share with you.

  1. Speakers and interpreters are a team with a common goal: communicating a message perceived as important by the speaker. We often ignore what our “teammate” does and the pressure each side has to face.
  2. Oftentimes, speakers get to be in conferences as a result of their position in an organization, but this doesn’t mean that they have had proper (or any) training to improve public speaking skills. Therefore, they may not have the necessary strategies to cope with problems such as nerves and anxiety, voice projection, articulation, speed, rhythm, logic, structure and relevance of the content.
  3. Interpreters sometimes forget all the pressure that speakers face when delivering a speech or giving a presentation.

Quotes from Students in Brussels

Read and draw your own conclusions.

Speakers are not as used as interpreters to receive feedback from their peers, so it’s useful to practice public speaking in a group. We can learn from our own mistakes just as much as we learn from seeing how others cope with theirs.

It is easy to see what aspects a speaker should improve from the outside, but it’s not easy to put oneself in their shoes and stand the pressure that comes with speaking in public. Only by doing that can we provide constructive feedback and help the speaker improve.

Practicing in a relaxed environment helps us to improve so we can later face less friendly situations.

   Being aware of one’s own breathing at a time of tension is quite difficult. That is why it’s important to practice breathing exercises that improve voice projection separately.

This workshop has taught me that breathing correctly and having the right posture can help shape the speech and reduce anxiety.

 Pauses help with intonation, which in turn make it easier for the audience to understand what has been said.

 Much like an interpreter, a speaker can really improve by practicing and receiving feedback, but also by giving feedback to others.    


My conclusion

Both speakers and interpreters benefit from getting some public speaking training. Join a club, take some workshops, get a coach. Ultimately we both are “the voice” in charge of delivering the same message to a multilingual audience, therefore, the necessary skills should be up to par on both sides.

Credits:  Photos and art –Lia Giralt. Proofreading –Nuria Campoy Sánchez. Communication –Anna Svalova, Mónica Díaz.




Feliz verano

El caracol y el mar

Feliz verano

Para hacer una buena interpretación ya sea simultánea, consecutiva o de enlace, lo primero, es escuchar. Para ser un buen comunicador, también.

Cuando era pequeña, mis padres me llevaron un día a una playa de arena dorada en el Pacífico mexicano. Cuando empezaba a atardecer salimos a dar un paseo la playa. Un caracol me llamó la atención por su silueta redondeada y sus colores arena y coral.

Mi mamá me dijo que me lo acercara y que escuchara con atención porque dentro del caracol se oía el eco del mar.
Este verano aprovechemos para respirar y reaprender a escuchar. Quizás,al igual que el caracol nos revela el eco del mar, escucharnos a nosotros mismos y a los demás nos revele el misterio de nuestra propia profundidad.

Toastmasters Speech 8: Get Comfortable With Visual Aids

This project is designed to examine the use of slides, transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, or props. In Madrid Toastmasters we don’t have a flip chart, whiteboard or an OHP, therefore, my visual aids were color printouts in A3 size that I showed during key moments of the speech. It is important to remember that your own body language is a very powerful visual aid because it makes your story three-dimensional and alive.

The steps I followed to craft this speech were the following:

  • I chose a topic which almost everybody knows about and that is very visual in itself.
  • I made several oral drafts that I recorded on my phone.
  • Then I listened to those recordings and started to write down the parts I liked.
  • Next, I worked on the written version. This process helped me clean out the structure and visualize the sections where a visual aid should be present.
  • The following step was to find simple and clear images that would illustrate the point, choose the most relevant ones and print them out in the most appropriate format.
  • I’m sure you guessed what the next step was: practice, practice, practice.

Since this time I first crafted the spoken version of the speech, when I delivered it I felt more comfortable improvising and taking some twists and turns based on the reaction I was getting from the audience. I felt I was actually involved in an amplified, collective dialogue. Some techniques I used to achieve this were:

  • asking questions to get the audience thinking and then provide my answer.
  • using actual dialogues with characters instead of telling them what happened.
  • showing the visual aid and pausing for a few seconds, explain and point when necessary and go on with the story.

I got a very positive feedback from my evaluator and from the audience, but the best thing was to see that people were coming to me and asking me more questions about the speech after the meeting was over!

Speech transcript:

To be or not to be… on Facebook


Please raise your hand if you have a Facebook account. Congratulations. You belong to the one billion users worldwide of this platform.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and guests,

Today it is a special day for me because I’m celebrating my second anniversary of a life without Facebook.

You might be thinking that I’m a black sheep and that I don’t belong to the 21st century, but that is not true. I am on Twitter, Linkedin, G+, WhatsApp and I have a blog. I just don’t have Facebook and I think my life is better because of it.

A few weeks ago I was in Geneva taking an intensive French course. I met some nice people and made some new friends. Towards the end of my stay I asked them to go out for lunch to say goodbye to them. We went to a nice restaurant on a top floor with a view of the Alps covered in snow. We sat at the table and could smell wonderful Thai food and were eager to share this moment, but one of them, Marylene, kept looking at her phone every few minutes. After a while I asked her, “Marylene, are you waiting for something important?” And she said “No, I’m just looking at my FB wall. I started wearing glasses yesterday and I wanted to see what people think.”

Obviously that was immensely more important than having an actual conversation with us, and the problem was, that after a while even I started to look at her pictures, and her friends’ pictures of their pets, and trips, and food. Do you see the danger here? There are several studies that suggest this very simple fact:talking to peopleBesides affecting the quality of our relationships with people, there is another very important thing that I felt Facebook was taking away from me:

My time.

An average user spends 421 minutes on Facebook every month. This is the same as 7 hours and one minute. Can you imagine what you would do if you had 7 extra hours every month? I can think of a few things I would do: sleep more, take a yoga class, and go have coffee with friends. In fact that’s what I have been doing ever since I quit Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, I was discussing with a member of Madrid Toastmasters, and with some other friends, the benefits of having a Facebook account. It is true that there are some nice features: you can centralize your photos and contacts, you can inform people of what you are up to, or you can follow interesting articles on fan pages. However I see two problems here.

The first one is privacy. Are you aware of who is looking at your content and do you really want them to know all those details?

If something is private or it affects your loved ones, don’t be narcissistic, and don’t put in on Facebook, you could be hurting someone without realizing it or you could be posting something you might regret later.

The second problem is information overload which is again related to time. My fellow Toastmaster was telling me that she is a musician and she uses FB to promote her gigs. There was a time when I was a performing artist as well and used FB to promote my gigs. I have to say that although it gave me visibility, the hundreds of likes didn’t actually transform into ticket sales, while actually talking to people or sending them personalized messages, did. In terms of following fan pages or groups, I would like you to think honestly if you have time to do all that, and read books, the press and your reports from work.

Although I don’t think that Facebook in itself is inherently bad, I think it is very addictive and it can have a clear negative impact on your time and the quality of your personal relationships. Don’t you agree it’s worth looking into the use you make of it and see if you can make any changes for the better?

I would like to propose to you a 21-Facebook detox plan. For the next 7 days track the time you spend on Facebook. Start your stopwatch when you log on and stop it when you log off, even if you are multitasking. Write down your times and take note of the kind of things you do on Facebook without judging yourself. Just observe and note. If after those 7 days you decide that being of Facebook is still worth your time, set yourself a maximum daily use of Facebook and stick to it for two weeks. Be disciplined and honest with yourself. I promise you that after these 21 days you will notice small changes in your use of time and in the quality of your interaction with the people you love the most. The rewards will be worth it. I guarantee it.

Taller para hablar en público

El pasado 11 de junio tuve la oportunidad de impartir un tallera las consultoras de belleza de Mary Kay en Madrid. En dos horas nos pusimos manos a la obra para analizar por qué nos da tanta ansiedad hablar en público y qué podemos hacer para usar el estrés a nuestro favor sin que nos bloquee.YOGA

Es maravilloso ver cómo, con un poco de dirección, las participantes mejoraban in situ. Esto no quiere decir que con dos horas todos sus problemas de oratoria hayan quedado resueltos. Simplemente quiere decir que ahora cuentan con nuevas herramientas que han conseguido asimilar y que serán capaces de aplicar en su día a día.

Enseñar lo que me gustaría aprender

Cuando estudiaba danza en la Universidad de Nuevo México tenía un profesor de danza contemporánea con una fuerte vocación pedagógica y que escribió un artículo llamado a partir de una conferencia que dio y que se titula Teaching what I want to learn. Además de la historia personal de Bill Evans, lo que me impactó del artículo y de su filosofía como profesor era que lo más importante del proceso de enseñanza no era dar una técnica muy difícil para que los alumnos la repitieran y lograran dominarla. Lo más importante era encontrarle un sentido personal a lo que estabas enseñando y para ello era indispensable diseñar un entorno que favoreciera al proceso.

También en esos años universitarios aprendí que un entorno estimulante y amable fomenta el aprendizaje a través de todo el potencial de la inteligencia humana, con su dimensión cinética, visual, musical, intra e interpersonal. Es ecir, que hay que tomar en cuenta al alumno de la manera más integra posible y además hay que considerar el entrono. Es básicamente indispensable incorporar las dimensiones sociales, corporales, mentales, emocionales e intuitivas de la persona en el proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje. Sabemos que de esta manera no solo se potencia el aprendizaje, sino que también se ejerce una influencia sobre uno de los factores más importantes para que la persona logre o no logre una tarea. Este factor es la imagen que tiene de sí mismo.

En Toastmasters encontré precisamente este tipo de entorno propicio y amigable. La estructura de las sesiones además permite tener una interacción más directa con tus compañeros y con tu mentor, con lo cual se atienden varias de las dimensiones que mencioné anteriormente.

Volviendo al título de la entrada, en mis años como formadora, siempre he intentado ponerme en los zapatos del alumno y pensar en lo que a mí me gustaría aprender y en cómo me gustaría que me lo enseñaran. Intento tomar en cuenta los diferentes estilos de aprendizaje que tiene cada alumno. Hay quienes tienen una preferencia por los estímulos visuales, otros prefieren las referencias verbales, espaciales o musicales.

Ahora bien, trabajar con un grupo reducido o con un grupo regular es una cosa. Intentar trasladar esta filosofía a un grupo de más de 100 personas y adaptar el contenido de tal forma que todos y todas sientan que se han llevado algo significativo (es lo menos que se merecen por darme su atención durante 45 minutos), es un reto con sus propias dimensiones.

La metodología que usé para preparar este taller fue la siguiente:

1) Conociendo el funcionamiento de Toastmasters y las competencias que ayuda a desarrollar, busqué un área que suele quedarse un poco relegada en el marco de las reuniones del club. Además de mi experiencia personal como miembro, lo que hice fue simplemente plantearle esta pregunta a todos los miembros que pude: ¿si asistieras a un taller de media hora, qué te gustaría aprender?.

2) Obviamente las respuestas fueron varias y tuve que priorizar y tomar una decisión, porque no olvidemos que solo tenía media hora de ponencia y 15 minutos de preguntas y respuestas.

3) Una vez elegido el tema pensé en la manera de hacerlo interactivo y de aprovechar el espíritu de ayuda y compañerismo que Toastmasters fomenta. Así, diseñé una serie de ejercicios muy sencillos para transmitir ideas muy claras y directas.

4) Ya una vez delante del público, decidí que no se trataba de ser una conferenciante con un atento público, sino que quería crear un entorno de co-aprendizaje. Para ello les pedí a los asistentes que tuvieran más conocimientos que trabajaran con alguien que neceseitara más ayuda para el primer ejercicio. En seguida pedí voluntarios para que pasaran al escenario y pudieran interactuar con el resto del grupo. Este aspecto me parece especialmente importante porque creo firmemente en que como más se aprende es haciendo. Dice un proverbio chino:


Por último, si te sobran 47 minutos y quieres ver el taller, puedes seguir este enlace.

The Secret Language of Your Voice.

Programa del curso para hablar en público en inglés

A continuación se detalla el programa del curso para hablar bien en público en inglés. 


Sesión 1, 10 de marzo:

Tormenta de ideas: Oratoria efectiva, principales obstáculos generales y cuando hablamos en una lengua extranjera.
Vencer el miedo a hablar en público. Ejercicios prácticos de relajación y concentración.
Asociación de ideas, reactivación de vocabulario.
Discurso improvisado.

Sesión 2, 12 de marzo:

¿Qué es eso de proyectar la voz?
Respiración diafragmática.
Comunicación no verbal a través de la voz con ejercicios de entonación, ritmo, silencio y variedad vocal.
El cuidado de la voz.
Lectura de un texto preparado para aplicar las técnicas aprendidas.

Sesión 3, 17 de marzo:

La mirada, la postura, las manos, los gestos.
Práctica con discurso improvisado.
La lógica del discurso. Cómo estructuro mi discurso: el público, el objetivo, el orden de las ideas.
Repaso y aplicación de todo lo aprendido con un discurso preparado.

Es posible elegir clases sueltas que tienen un precio de 30€. Para mayores informes puedes dejarme un comentario, escribirme un correo, o puedes contactar con Eva Rodriguez en el 915632148 o por email: eva.rodriguez@hexagone.es

Hexagone Language Solutions
C/ Meléndez Valdés, 14  28015 MADRID
(metros: Quevedo, San Bernardo, Argüelles)


Si necesitas mejorar tus habilidades para hablar en público en inglés, ¡este curso es para ti!

  • Adquiere confianza en tus propias habilidades en un ambiente distendido y amigable.
  • Aprende técnicas básicas de respiración y de relajación.
  • Mejora el contacto visual y el lenguaje corporal para hablar con más naturalidad.
  • Técnicas del uso de la voz (proyectar la voz, volumen, tono, ritmo, etc.)
  • Mejorar tu pronunciación para que el mensaje pase con más claridad.
  • Improvisación y discursos preparados.
  • Escucha activa, retroalimentación constructiva.

Si quieres leer las opiniones y comentarios de antiguos alumnos haz clic aquí.

Para participar es necesario tener un nivel intermedio alto o avanzado de inglés.

Fechas y horarios:

Martes 10 de marzo 19:30-21:30
Jueves 12 de marzo 19:30-21:30
Martes 17 de marzo 19:30-21:30

Coach: Aline Casanova es intérprete de conferencias, Toasmaster y profesora de inglés. Ha realizado estudios de danza, técnicas de voz (canto, declamación) y oratoria en EE.UU. y en España.

Hexagone Language Solutions
C/ Meléndez Valdés, 14  28015 MADRID
(metros: Quevedo, San Bernardo, Argüelles)

Matrícula: 85 €

Curso bonificable a través de la Fundación Tripartita Hexagone se encarga de todos los trámites por un coste adicional de 10 €.
Si estás interesado en participar, puedes inscribirte antes viernes 6 de marzo en el siguiente link: Inscripción

Si tienes cualquier pregunta puedes contactar con Eva Rodriguez en el 915632148 o por email: eva.rodriguez@hexagone.esunnamed

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