Carrie Beckstrom, chief learning officer, Power Speaking Inc. has more than 30 years of experience in the learning and development field. Her mission is to help take the Company, which has positively impacted over 300,000 people over the past 30 years, to new heights in leading-edge communication and executive presentation skills development.
Carrie Beckstorm’s exclusive interview with HRKatha, this ‘Women’s Day’
What is Power Speaking Inc.? Can you explain its over-arching goal in brief?
At Power Speaking, we are all about transformation—and the journey it takes to make it happen.
Our organisation is a global, women-owned business that delivers presentation and communication skills training for people at all career stages. For over three decades, our dynamic training and coaching teams have helped 300,000+ individuals around the world elevate their success by becoming better communicators.
Our conference speaking, presentation, and communication skills workshops are steeped in research, and delivered by skilled, dynamic master facilitators. The workshops are designed to fulfill the needs and demands of the target audience.
Via executive videos, participants benefit from the advice of C-level executives, which lend credibility to the strategies and best practice techniques taught in our programmes.
From our high stakes, Speaking Up: Presenting to Decision Makers sessions to our exclusive Confident Speaking for Women workshops, we meet people where they are and give them the training, coaching, tools, and inspiration they require to shine.
We’re passionate about the proven value of highly interactive, personalised training. Whether it’s a large-group workshop, a small-group class with individualised coaching, or a one-on-one personal coaching session, participants will learn how to use our step-by-step techniques to engage audiences, connect with clients, and get buy-in from decision makers.
How does power speaking help to create leaders and influencers and how has it been adapted to suit Indian markets?
Power speaking helps create leaders and influencers at all levels of an organisation, and is at the heart of what we do. For instance, when we teach individual contributors how to deliver their core message quickly, clearly, and coupled with storytelling narratives, we set them on a path to influence the outcomes in their organisations.
When we convince an engineer or scientist that the business imperative or meaning behind their data is more important than the data itself, we clear the way for brilliant ideas that make for profitable business.
When we show a mid-level or senior manager how to think like a C-level executive when asking for support for a promising project, we groom more leaders who can move the company forward, faster.
Thinking globally and acting locally is key to ensuring our programmes are adapted to the various markets, such as India, in which we do business. We have certified master facilitators in India who have immense expertise in the local community and business, and are therefore skilled at tailoring our programmes to the Indian culture.
In the Indian context, how can we connect power speaking with women leaders in particular?
Any woman looking to become a more powerful communicator at work, and use those skills to build a successful career, will benefit from our new Confident Speaking for Women workshop.
As we developed this workshop, we interviewed dozens of women leaders in the fields of high-tech, the sciences, nonprofit bodies, education, government, and the arts. Their insights and stories confirmed what our research revealed— If women want to lead, be heard, and move people to action, they need to be Clear, Confident, and Courageous with their communication.
Balance drives a better working world. That is our theme for International Women’s Day, and it’s a campaign we intend to celebrate not just today but for a long time to come.
For more information on our Confident Speaking for Women workshop and other programmes, contact Power Speaking Inc. master facilitators and senior business leads in India: Payal Gandhi Hoon – firstname.lastname@example.org, Anshu Arora at email@example.com
Please share more about the Confident Speaking for Women workshop. What are its goals, objectives and overarching values?
The ‘3 Cs’ – Clear, Confident, and Courageous – are at the heart of Confident Speaking for Women.
It is a three-hour workshop, wherein we focus on the following outcomes for women:
• Learn in detail how to be clear, confident, and courageous.
• Listen to advice from successful women executives featured in a series of video clips.
• Understand how “talk traps” undermine conversations.
• Practise increasing impact through direct verbal language.
• Comprehend how body language and vocal power project authority (or not).
• Evaluate your communication strengths, and walk away with a plan for improvement.
Throughout the programme, participants get opportunities for rigorous practice of these skills, and receive feedback from our master facilitators.
How do you bring in the agility factor in you programmes to suit individual needs?
You’ve hit on an ingredient that is critical to the success of our programmes and ability to transform people into more powerful, effective communicators.
In addition to group facilitation and coaching, many of our workshops include one-on-one coaching sessions with verbal and written feedback. The feedback is highly structured and tailored to each individuals’ strengths and opportunities for improvement.
Multiple personalised sessions are provided throughout the workshop, which gives participants an opportunity to immediately apply the coaching and enhance their skills and impact.
You use research to develop a deep understanding of the market needs. Please elaborate on this and share some insights.
Steeping ourselves in the literature is the foundation of all that we do—but our research practice goes far beyond mere academics. Through individualised video and audio interviews of leaders in the field, which are featured throughout our workshops, we capture the pulse and the first-person narrative of their career journeys with focus on the topic of communication.
How does the academic research square with their experiences? What is their personal statement regarding the content? How would they mentor and guide the next generation? What is their advice from the trenches?
Let us point to a specific example with Confident Speaking for Women. We have heard for years of women’s desire to explore articulate communication within a safe environment. We spoke to dozens of women, and analysed and bucketed information into the three themes that now serve as the basis of the workshop – clarity, confidence and courage.
To understand the Indian context, we captured the insights from three credible sources:
Starting more than 10 years ago, Bindu Garapaty, a valued client and senior director at Gilead, started teaching a variety of women’s courses in India.
Payal Gandhi Hoon, who has served over 15 sectors and 36 clients with an experience of 16 plus years is a former mentor to the Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women. She has specialised in cross-cultural communication and women’s programmes.
Anshu Arora holds an advanced degree in communication studies and has 18 years of experience facilitating her train-the-trainer courses.
Payal and Anshu continue to inform our work by serving as master facilitators and business development leads in India for Power Speaking, Inc.
Why is upskilling important for all employees irrespective of the industry and function?
Given the rapid rate at which technology is reinventing the workplace, employees must continue to develop and evolve their knowledge and skills in order to remain relevant.
Key skills employers seek in employees continue to be social capital skills —verbal and written communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively in teams, and to influence others.
So clearly, refining one’s communication skills can benefit any employee regardless of industry and role. And the case is strengthened by the fact that ineffective communication within the workplace can be very costly. For instance, a US survey has found miscommunication costs businesses with up to 100 staff members an average of US$420,000 per year.
We at Power Speaking Inc. are pacing with the times and have introduced digital workbooks and a vast library of on-demand microlearning videos, which support the ongoing development of programme alumni anytime, anywhere.
How do people identify the need for taking a course, and how does it help develop their careers?
Simply put, better speaking means better results.
However, speaking success means different things to different people.
To some, success may be advancing up the corporate ladder by becoming a composed and influential spokesperson. To others, it can mean learning how to truly impress decision makers, or how to present dense technical material in a way that’s actually compelling. Or it can even mean presenting as a key note speaker at a conference. Then again, success can simply be developing the courage to stand up in front of others.
That’s where Power Speaking Inc. comes in. We help employees and leaders become the presenters they’ve always wanted to be—focussed, relaxed, natural speakers who can engage others and get results.