Motivational speaker Bonnie St. John is an Olympic ski medalist, amputee and author of several books, including Live Your Joy (FaithWords, 2009). She spoke at the 2010 Texas Conference for Women in Houston on the subject of “Enhancing Your Executive Presence.” In a very lively presentation, she talked about learning to use “presence” until it becomes a habit.
The What, How and Who in Business
Women especially need to learn how to speak with authority in the business world. St. John said the three points she teaches in respect to business interactions are to focus on: what you say, how you say it and who hears it. “What you say” refers to the content of the message, and having something of interest to say. She advised, “Be alive. Read the paper. Ask a question, engage the other person.”
“How you say it” relates to staying focused with short, two minute meetings. “Err on the side of being succinct,” she said. Listen to the quality and tone of the voice you use, and if it needs improvement, St. John said, “Take singing lessons.” If body language is not as good as it could be, then take acting lessons. Avoid distractions, such as shifting weight from one leg to another. Join a group like Toastmasters to hone your public speaking skills. Make a video of yourself and watch it for areas that need improvement. And, she suggested, “Warm up your voice every morning. That exercise lasts all day.”
“Who hears it” is a key factor in being recognised, whether it is by a superior, the client, or another important audience that is influential in career success. She asked, “Where are you showing up? Be present in various places. Go to trade shows and conventions.”
Precision, as St. John used the term, refers to learning to speak in the present and future, rather than the past, being dynamic in manner of speech, being pro-active and working in a team or community. She said, “Talent is a given. It is the energy, the presence, that made an individual stand out from everyone else.”
The third point she made was about having purpose. In her life it was exhibited by having lost one leg, and yet going on to win Olympic medals. She was the first African-American to win Olympic medals in ski racing, winning a silver and two bronze medals in the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
When a purpose has been defined, then a person is more motivated to get it done. St. John advised that purpose can be accomplished by “sharing it with another person, teaching to someone else.” The goal is to make this goal, or purpose, a habit in everyday life.
Live Your Joy Radio Shows
St. John is a warm, energetic and talented speaker who is asked to appear at about a hundred events per year. She is also a host of both a television and radio program, web-based, centred around the Live Your Joy theme. From her web site, people are invited to join her every Wednesday at Noon Eastern (9AM Pacific) time for her weekly Live Your Joy radio show on the VoiceAmerica radio network.