In mid February I attended an introductory class for a small speaking group led by a brilliant woman named Lynn. I wasn't able to attend her official month-long class at the time due to scheduling, but now I am! The class is different from Toastmasters (the public speaking group I have attended for the past 3 years).
When it comes to public speaking -Toastmasters focuses on 3 main things:
1. Helping you achieve competent speaking ability by giving you 10 manual speech guidelines to work through over the course of about a year -each new speech building off the basic fundamentals of the last one.
2. Feedback from the group you speak in front of as a whole, the person specifically assigned to evaluate your speech that day based on the criteria in the manual, and the individual roled people like the AH Counter that counts how many times you say "uh", "eh", "ummmm..."
3. Attempting to teach you leadership skills by having you facilitate meetings, lead portions of the meetings, and possibly join the Officer Team for the club.
What Lynn's group focuses on, which Toastmasters doesn't, is focusing far more on the individual -making more of an impact in a short amount of time by:
1. Having the group mention only the GOOD qualities they see in you as a person when you speak (aka your natural talents/energy)
2. Supporting you to open up about deeper thoughts and feelings you wouldn't normally share publicly -thus encouraging you to open up more in a safe space
3. A few select techniques about how to Connect To The Audience and make them connect to you.
To build rapport within this new group of Lynn and 4 women she's guiding, there are opening exercises we do to better connect to the people in the group.
We did the eye staring thing again. I find it's hard to stare at a person for longer than 2 minutes because the whole time I try to smile, but at some point realize the person in front of me is also faking a smile and it becomes uncomfortable for me because I want to stop smiling but I also don't want the person to know I was "fake smiling" and that I'm not really that happy because then they might judge me or think less of me. You really open up to people when you stare at them and you can really "see into them" as well.
Then there's a guided meditation for about 10 minutes which is awesome. The meditation I'm used to is based (like this one was) on the Chakaras. My normal meditation focuses on the heart chakara and the upper -head chakaras. There is also a lot of emphasis on "grounding". Lynn's meditation consists only of the heart chakara and grounding. She says the "womb" space is where creative energy comes from and is deeply needed for women to fully express themselves and succeed.
Lynn argued that everything we've been taught as women has kind of screwed us over. Women stand feet close together and kind of turned inward while men are more open-stance take control. Women are also taught to suppress their sexuality, which then puts them in a male frame -but not the empowering ones like open-stance but the negative ones like being stern/mentally-oriented/and robotic.
I realized after her thoughts were shared on men v. women, it really comes down to a Race to Grace. The best leaders are those who can find a balance between yin and yang and hold spiritual grace in their actions. Women currently stand a better chance of actually achieving and excelling at this than men do right now. Women start off with YIN inherently, and since women suffer far more and there for are far more motivated to become empowered/strong in a male-dominated world they will achieve YANG far more easily and have a balance between the 2. Men on the other hand would have to come down the step latter from YANG and embrace peace/grace/sincerity with YIN -which is far less likely to happen.
I think Men are better leaders than women when they have Yin/Yang balance than women with Yin/Yang balance -but those men are fewer are far between.
Anyways, so I spoke first in front of the group and actually discussed my other meditation experiences and how it empowered me to connect to what I call "God" but also called to the group a "higher power" because some people are stupid and still haven't come to terms with the fact God exists and instead call Him the "universe". Then I listened to the other women speak. Then there was a final 3 minute round of speaking where we talked about what inspires me to live life to the fullest.
After the 3rd speech like we'd done the first time I met Lynn, each person listed 1-2 positive things that they got from who you are.
My first listed was:
My second list from last night was:
I think if I do enough of these I can maybe see some repeating trends and get a better sense of how I'm perceived by people and what qualities stand out the most.