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WTS Ted Talk Event: “How to Speak So People Want to Listen”


Author: Margaret Czachorowski, HNTB

On September 15, 2016, 25 attendees gathered at the WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff office for a Ted Talk viewing and discussion, facilitated by Margaret O’Meara (Vice President/Northeast Client Services, WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff).  The WTS Boston Mentoring Committee organized the event and chose the Ted Talk: How to Speak So People Want to Listen, by Julian Treasure, chair of The Sound Agency - a firm that advises worldwide businesses on how to use sound.  The 9-minute talk hit on a variety of topics related to public speaking and everyday conversation, emphasizing the importance of both what you say and how you say it.  As Mentoring Committee co-chair Susan Nichols (Director of Environmental Planning, VHB) said in her introduction to the event, the Ted Talk was chosen because public speaking is something that so many people struggle with.

Ted_Talk_2In the Ted Talk, Julian Treasure first presented what he called the “7 Deadly Sins” of conversation: Gossip, Judging, Negativity, Complaining, Excuses, Lying/Exaggeration, and Dogmatism.  He then outlined his suggestions for speaking so that people want to listen, using the acronym HAIL: Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, and Love.  Julian next delved into the toolbox of tricks the speaker can use to enhance their speech, including register, timbre, prosody, pace, pitch, and volume.  Finally, the attendees in the room stood and joined in as the Ted Talk took us through some vocal warm-up exercises, which helped us kick-off our discussion.

Margaret O’Meara brought her extensive mentoring and coaching experiences to the table, facilitating a lively conversation about public speaking and communication.  Attendees came from a wide variety of experience levels, ages, backgrounds, public/private sector, etc., which contributed to an illuminating discussion. Topics discussed included how to be authentic and let your personality show in a professional context, how to speak up in a group when others are more outspoken, knowing your audience, challenges communicating as a woman in a male-dominated field, accents, posture and body language, and confidence.  Tips were exchanged, funny and inspiring stories were shared, and it was ultimately a fun and fruitful event.

Ted_Talk_3Recognition: HNTB, Mentoring Committee Co-Chairs Allison Sweeney, MBTA and Susan Nichols, VHB; Lauren Ballou, VHB; Facilitator Margaret O’Meara, WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff



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