Interview: The Perks Of Speaking
Date: August 4, 2016
There are many perks of speaking; making a difference to the human race is one, and inspiring demotivated individuals is another. But for this cruise ship speaker and lecturer, travelling the world is also another.
We had the privilege to speak with newcomer to Shapiro International Dr. Emma Roberts. Emma talks on the art and design of countries all around the world and is regularly employed by cruise ships as a Special Interest Speaker.
Some may make the assumption that becoming a speaker is mundane and serious, but we found out that it can lead to many amazing things. Here’s what she had to say…
1. Hi Emma, what first inspired you to speak?
I always enjoyed attending cruise ship presentations on board ships when I cruised as a passenger from the age of 24 onwards. For many years, I had no idea how people acquired these roles, but it was always in the back of my mind that it would be a nice thing to do.
One day as a passenger, I was invited to the Captain’s Table on board a ship and the crew-member sat next to me suggested that I become a speaker on-board ships when I told him that I was a university lecturer.
He described how to go about this, so I applied and went from there! It’s a great addition to my daily work at university as a lecturer.
2. Would you say that your experience as a lecturer naturally progressed into the role of a speaker?
Yes, this is very much the case. I was lecturing on the topics of Art and Design History at various universities from the age of 21 onwards.
As such, I became comfortable in front of large groups of people. It seems quite natural to be a speaker now.
3. What are some common mistakes you see speakers make?
One thing that irritates me is when speakers ‘um’ and ‘er’. I do hope and believe that I do not make this mistake. Also, some speakers put spelling mistakes on their PowerPoint presentations. Again, I believe I don’t have this problem.
4. You talk about Art and Design of countries all around the world. Have you seen any in real life?
Yes. It has been my great fortune to see art and design in countries all around the world. I have seen temples and statues of Buddha in Burma, Aboriginal paintings in Australia and the inside of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, amongst many other things.
My personal favourite art work is American Impressionism which developed on the East Coast of the USA, but there is always something interesting to see and learn on any travels – it’s one of the perks of speaking.
5. Why do you think people want to hear what you have to say?
Although people are very often interested in art and design, it seems that most are too busy with their jobs or families to make serious efforts to find out about it for themselves.
I think they find it nice to have a compact package of information, along with images, presented in front of them. They can then choose to follow this up later by visiting the relevant sites where they can view the art first-hand or by reading further.
I also make efforts never to talk down to anyone by using technical phrases or assuming prior knowledge, but then I also go deeper into the topic once I have ‘laid the groundwork’ of the necessary background. This ensures everyone is starting from the same basis of information.
6. Due to the nature of your topics, do you constantly have to research the world and keep up to date with new art?
This is definitely the case.
Art changes every day as more and more is made, and I have to keep up with the developments for both my roles as a speaker on-board cruise ships and as a university lecturer.
It is great self-development to keep learning and find interesting things for the benefit of the audiences. Also, as I am usually asked to speak on diverse cruise itineraries, rather than repeat one from a previous occasion, I am always discussing new topics.
This means that I research what would be interesting to talk about for that specific itinerary; everything is prepared on a bespoke basis.
As a result, I am always building on my own existing knowledge and left amazed by the achievements of artists and designers from cultures all around the world. This keeps me fresh as a cruise ship speaker and also in my ‘day job’ at university.
7. What keeps you inspired and motivated?
I always need to keep busy and am not good with having ‘downtime’ and so preparing for new talks is ideal. Doing so means that I have a structured path of learning all set out before me.
Of course, one of the most inspirational things is that the role of a speaker has enabled me to travel to exotic parts of the world – like Indonesia or Bermuda. This would surely motivate anyone and is a perk of speaking!
I am so lucky to be able to travel as a result of my subject knowledge. I am always excited to find out where I will be going next and explore the best examples of art and design in order to delight the audience.
8. Do you ever get speaking anxiety? If so, how do you channel it?
I think it is normal for everyone to get speaking anxiety.
In fact, if there is no frisson of apprehension, then I become worried as it is that which enables the adrenaline to flow and for my performance to be enhanced.
In order to keep on top of speaking anxiety, I make sure to breathe deeply and evenly and also go to the gym regularly; working out takes away any excess tension!
9. What ways do you interact with your audience so they don’t become bored?
I interact with the audience by asking them questions and also by breaking out of my flow of argument in order to offer an anecdote or spontaneous observation.
I sometimes incorporate short videos into my PowerPoint so the audience see some lively moving images and have a break from my voice for a short time!
10. How important is it to believe in yourself?
It is very important to believe in oneself, because this produces the confidence to have good conversations and interactions with the audience.
As a cruise ship speaker, I am needed to socialise with the passengers as well as provide formal talks. So knowing the depth of one’s knowledge and having the confidence to project ideas and opinions is important for these occasions.
I make sure to remember that I studied for a long time in order to find out about art and design and, as I have mentioned, keep studying constantly to keep learning!
I am passionate about my subject and know this for a certainty so this makes my role as speaker much easier.
Dr. Emma Roberts is a great example of how you can turn your passion into a career. Her hard work, determination and enthusiasm for her specialist subject has enabled her to flourish and keep on doing so.