Why do some people seem to have a natural gift for public speaking and others seem nervous or unorganized? How does one become a great speaker in the beauty industry? According to Bonnie Bonadeo and Alejandra Crisafulli, founders of Naked Audience Productions, the key component is authenticity.
In their three-day Stages workshop seminar, attendees delve deep into what captivates an audience—whether you’re engaging them in a classroom as an educator, on a stage as a platform artist, or in an auditorium as an industry leader, authentic communication is key.
“Although there is preparation involved in presenting your talent—training stylists, selling products, marketing a brand, or inspirational speaking—mastering the art of authentic communication means honing in on the real story of you,” says Bonadeo, “and why you chose to teach and challenge people to learn the skills you have—this is how you connect with an audience.”
The workshop begins with a discussion of what makes you a brand—not just the company you work for, but your personal skill set and story, and how to incorporate those skills into an engaging presentation—regardless if you’re selling a product or coaching a classroom on a technique for the salon (content speaker), or selling yourself and your story (inspirational speaker).
“Think of speakers who have inspired you,” Bonadeo says. “It was never about the products they were talking about or what they were wearing. It was their ability to lead you to a place you didn’t know you wanted to go but were completely inspired to be there. Some students think Stages is going to teach the skills to prepare and present a presentation.
But what ends up happening is we teach them a little bit about themselves.”
Students dissect their own stories—confronting “ugly truths” that may inhibit them when they get on a stage—a key component of connecting with an audience.
This is where Crisafulli comes in. She is a life and business coach who works with students on discovering their own truths and fears, and replacing them with a sense of awareness and ownership.
Unconscious Conversations are “verbal fillers”: the ums, ohs, ands, likes and you knows. Students learn that these are used when you are not being present or have disconnected from the audience and all of your triggers are being ignited and, in the moment, you’re not being authentic. “In the beauty industry, where we give so much of ourselves for our clients at the salon or the stylists in our training session, it can be easy to forget what really makes up who we are—the human side of a presentation,” Crisafulli says. “Connecting with our own emotions can take us to a whole new level of tapping into our passion to engage our audience.”
Connection Through Emotional Intellegence
Day two begins with what it takes to be a good leader. What are the characteristics of those who inspire us to be better? There are three “domains” those traits fall into: intelligence, technical skills or emotional intelligence. A group exercise demonstrates that nearly all of the powerful characteristics fall under emotional intelligence: honest, team player, compassionate, connects well with others, motivating.
What does this mean? Powerful leaders are in touch with their emotions. They effectively deal with, rather than store away, the triggers that have the ability to “hijack” and trigger memotional responses when we’re at our most vulnerable—on a stage.
“We are emotional beings, we were built to feel, yet we tend to store those emotions away,” Crisafulli says. “When we feel confronted or we believe we are being made wrong, it triggers an emotion and sometimes we start reacting when we’re in this ‘hijacked’ state.” Strong leaders and presenters know how to recover from a “hijack” to become “emotionally intelligent.”
Crisafulli and Bonadeo delve into the five components of what makes a good presentation. It begins with a solid opening—your name, role, story and intention; relevancy—how your audience can connect with you; body—where the information is delivered; call to action—the pitch; and the close, tie up loose ends. Where does your personal story tie into it? Where does your personal brand shine? Everywhere.
Educators Bonnie Bonadeo and Alejandra Crisafulli. The day’s session ends by discussing the sales pitch—how to avoid sounding like a sales person, and instead creating your personal call to action; be it, “invest in these products,” “try my way of blow drying,” or “refer your friends,” and how to work your pitch into your presentation in a way that won’t make your audience shut down.
The homework for the evening is to watch Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight presentation from the TED conference series. TED brings together fascinating thinkers and doers who are challenged to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. Stages students are challenged to create their own 10-minute TED presentation, to share with the class—tying in everything learned throughout the workshop.
On day three, when students share their TED presentation, the educators and class evaluates the presentations based on the five components and, of course, authenticity.
Following the workshop, each student is sent a video recording of their final presentations, and given a one hour coaching session phone call with Bonadeo and Crisafulli.
“Though educators and platform artists share the biggest and broadest message in the beauty industry,” Bonadeo says, “the truth is, if you’re a salon owner or stylist you’re still interacting with an audience every day. In that small space—the client is your audience and your station is your stage. Being an effective communicator, discovering yourself, your brand and your message is critical.”
“The Stages workshop opened my eyes to becoming a more powerful presenter—whether you’re trying to show someone a color or cutting technique, or explaining how social media can boost your business, it’s all about connecting with your audience on an authentic level. Students leave the workshop feeling exhausted, yet empowered. For some, they uncover fears that have inhibited them while on a stage. For others, who may have thought they were powerful public speakers to begin with, it was about saying goodbye to the ‘act’ or ‘performer’ and learning to be more authentic.”