By Stephanie Bickel and Madina Behori
We’ve included Dr. Virginia Sharma on our “Best Public Speakers” list because of her visual presence along with her commitment to diversity and inclusion. She is the Marketing Head at Google Cloud India and has a lot to share when it comes to top-notch leader communication.
We reviewed Dr. Sharma's speech during the 2021 BrandMasters award ceremony where she emphasized the hard-working teams that support the achievements of leaders. She asks the question, "Is an award for an individual or [is] the award for the team?"
Dr. Sharma’s greatest leader communication skills:
Visual Presence: Dr. Sharma maintained eye contact with the audience and kept a relatively still posture. This makes her appear more confident and poised. At the same time, her facial expressions were warm and inviting.
Diversity and Inclusion: Dr. Sharma asked the 'uncomfortable' question about female representation during the process of choosing the award recipients. As she says, "you may not be able to solve the problem of representation on your own", but she encourages the audience to do their part by creating an awareness in others, sponsoring female team members to attend professional events, and coaching them on how to network.
Speaking from the Heart: At times, speakers can get lost in their thoughts and rush their delivery -- especially when they have memorized a speech or are using notes. However, that is not the case with Dr. Sharma. She appears connected to every word. It truly feels like a message from the heart.
What Dr. Sharma could do to improve her leader communication skills:
Fillers: At the end of her speech, a few "ahs" and "ums" began to slip in. It could have been that this part of the speech was more improvised. If that's the case, we recommend she pause and take a breath to collect her thoughts. Check out this post for more strategies to eliminate fillers.
Gestures: While she did demonstrate the pincer (1:07), heart touch (1:52), karate chop (4:08), and open palms (4:22), it would have been more impactful if -- in between these gestures-- she reset to a neutral position with her hand at her side. We also recommend refraining from swirling your hands (0:53) as this can take away from the message.
Strong Close: She ends with a powerful statement in which she says, "it's a responsibility on us to support the next generation of stars". Instead of then thanking the audience for their time, we recommend she loop it back to the individuals and teams that are being honored. By also increasing in volume in this moment, she will be ending the message on a vocal and verbal high.
Developing leader communication skills is easy when you work with Speak by Design. We work with clients from around the world to help them master the art of public speaking and strengthen their presentation skills. We work with individuals, groups, and entire organizations. Your voice is powerful...if you know how to use it. Contact us today to learn more.