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Best Public Speakers Series: Rainia Washington

Updated: Jun 7

By Caitlin Stegemoller

We included Rainia Washington on our "Best Public Speakers" list because of her compelling storytelling, easy and confident style, and great vocal variety.

Best Public Speakers

Rainia L. Washington is Executive Vice President – Chief Human Resources Officer. In this role, she leads FINRA's People Solutions team, overseeing the organization's talent recruitment, training and development, diversity and inclusion, compensation and benefits, and employee relations.

We reviewed Rainia's 2022 talk with colleague Marcia Asquith, titled "Moving FINRA Forward: One Year and Beyond - FINRA’s Racial Justice Task Force", where they share thoughts on their personal experiences, FINRA’s efforts thus far and the work that lies ahead.

What are the main communication takeaways?

  • Compelling Storytelling: (0:16-0:40) Rainia uses the "SCR" structure to present how FINRA created the Racial Justice Task Force. She clearly addresses the Situation, the Complication, and the Resolution. She then goes on to give two clear points on how the Racial Justice Task Force works in practice. By using this structure, she helps the audience understand exactly how the organization is addressing a specific problem in easy terms.

  • Great Vocal Variety (0:59-1:15): Rainia asks a question: "Do we understand what diversity and inclusion really means?" - and she genuinely asks that question of the audience. She then goes on to say "And that's not just race and gender. It's diversity of thought and diversity of background". Rainia uses volume and pitch variety to get the audience thinking along with her,. She also uses a facilitative, inclusive tone that allows the listener to be drawn in.

  • Easy and Confident Style: Rainia clearly demonstrates a confident mindset, particularly in the way she cares about her audience. Her energy is focused on the listener and her message rather than on what she is saying. This translates into her vocal tone, her hand gestures, and allows her to exude a sense of calm. All of these behaviors help to put the audience at ease and trust her.

How could she improve?

  • Filler words: Rainia does tend to use 'uh' as she moves through her thoughts. Taking a moment to pause and allowing silence is always ok.


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