It's How You Say It
AmondaRose Igoe once reacted like many people do when making a public speech. She experienced intense fear, shaky hands, nervous laughter, and lots of “ahs” and “ums.”
Today, she is a strategist in speaking success who has taught thousands of leaders, entrepreneurs and business professionals how to share their messages and make their best possible presentations and speeches.
“People who can present in front of groups will skyrocket themselves to the top,” Igoe said.
Igoe, a former social worker, decided to take a job as charitable gifts and annuities officer at the Deborah Hospital Foundation, which formerly had an office in Boca Raton, in 1999. That decision would eventually lead to her new career as a speaking expert.
“They didn’t tell me when I took that job that I had to stand in front of hundreds of people and speak and present. It was my worst nightmare,” Igoe said. “My hands would shake so badly, I had to sit on them. I was a horrible communicator.
“I thought, 'I could quit the job I or I can figure this out,'” said Igoe, a former Delray Beach resident who now lives in Stuart. “I invested in myself and learned the art of public speaking. In the process of doing that, I got accolades from the company, saying, “You need to teach everyone else how to do that."
After investing in public speechmaking training such as attending Toastmasters and reading books on the subject, she was able to give presentations that were fun and engaging.
“I felt this calling to be a speaker and a coach. I walked away from that job in 2004 and started my own business as a speaker and a coach. I have been doing that for 17 years,” Igoe said.
A mission: Training women business owners to be better public speakers
Igoe has written two books — “Pain-Free Public Speaking” and “Share your Story” — and is a contributing author to the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series. Her mission is on training women, primarily women business owners, in more than 20 countries in-person and online to become the best public speakers they can be.
“Most of us aren’t trained about how to do it. We are thrown into leading meetings and presenting information to groups. Most of us don’t have the background for it. It is expected we should do well,” Igoe said. “The reality is, there are skills that create a successful presentation that most of us do not know unless we invest time and energy to understand it.”
One piece of advice she offers is to focus on the audience and how they will benefit from what you have to say, instead of on yourself.
“If people find their voice is trembling and their body is shaking, if they do a physical movement such as snapping their fingers or clapping their hands, something they have planned in advance, that takes the focus off that nervousness they are experiencing at the moment. It puts energy into something else. Then the mind shifts gears,” Igoe said.
How the Rising Stars Speaker contest works
This week, Igoe is holding a new event, the Rising Stars Speaker contest, in which a maximum of 40 speakers will make five-minute speeches. The event is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Hyatt Place hotel, 295 Lakeview Ave., West Palm Beach. Contest participant tickets are $27, and attendee tickets are $17.
The top winner will receive a Rising Star Speaker Trophy; the opportunity to speak at Igoe’s “6-figure Empowered Speaker Event for Women,” which will be held Oct 7-9 on Hutchinson Island; a VIP ticket to that event; and 60 minutes of coaching from Igoe. Ten percent of ticket sales will be donated to support Florida nonprofits.
Becca Powers, an account executive supporting Fortune 500 companies at the cybersecurity firm Fortinet, is one of the six judges for the Rising Stars contest. She said her training with Igoe taught her how to engage an audience by telling a story versus providing information overload. She said she gained skills to deliver presentations with confidence, and that has helped her become a six-figure earner.
“When you are able to speak from a place of confidence, where your message is clear and concise, it shifts you into being an authority on your subject matter. When you are seen as an authority or as an expert, people are willing to pay for your services, invest in your programs, and most importantly move forward with you as their guide,” Powers said.
“My career both as Fortune 500 sales executive and an author, speaker and life coach began to dramatically shift once I felt confident in my story. I have AmondaRose to thank for that," she said.
Igoe said the Rising Stars event is designed to give women a platform they normally do not get, especially new or mid-level speakers, to present and share information before a supportive live audience. “It is geared toward women who want to improve their skill level, learn how to captivate their audience and overcome some of the common challenges,” Igoe said.
“One thing I know from all the years I have been working with women is that they are driven by wanting to make a difference. They want to have an impact,” she said. “This gives them an opportunity to present and also to have an impact on everyone else in the room in a positive way.''
The contestants can choose from three topic areas ─ Story Teller, Motivator and Educator. All topics must be respectful of others and cannot include anything related to politics; promotional selling; or degrading comments about race, religion, culture, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We want to make it so everyone feels comfortable,” Igoe said.
When her father vanished, it was a life-changing event
Igoe said one story she tells audiences is how her life changed after her father vanished, abandoning the family. The family never saw him again. Later, when she was 10, they read in a newspaper account that he had died in a fire.
“I went from being a really outgoing, happy-go-lucky kid to a really shy introvert,” Igoe said. “My confidence tanked. You always wonder why. What happened? Why did it happen? You always have that question in your mind.
"I am grateful for all of it because it does make me who I am today. It helped me to have those challenges so I can help other women overcome challenges,” she said.