Virtual Chapter Blog Post March 2024

Written by Petra Laranjo

It’s Professional Speakers Celebration Day!

I cannot help myself but say that that’s me in the corner, that’s (not) me in the spotlight. #ifyouknowyouknow

I was the shy kid at school – the one who blushed from ear to ear if the teacher or a cute boy acknowledged me in class.

Interestingly enough, “Diligent but likes to talk a lot”, and variations thereof, were often noted in my report cards in school as well.

So, if you’d told me then that, one day, I’d build a successful and fulfilling career as a professional speaker, I would have tilted my head – as my dogs do – frowned and then my cheeks would have contracted, pulling my mouth into a toothy grin, riding the line of fear and excitement would have been a simultaneous reality.

I pushed myself to overcome my shyness, by joining the debate team in one of the 7 schools I attended – no rebellious acts leading to expulsion.

I then landed my bum in the proverbial plant-based butter when I unintentionally booked my first, and then second television commercial, as a presenter for home-shopping network.

Although I’ve been crafting my professional speaking skills for 18 years now, I recently joined the Professional Speakers Association of South Africa because I want to keep leveling up.

Being the over-achiever that I am, I accepted the invitation to be the timekeeper for our PSASA’s Virtual Chapter’s evening and Speaker Factor contest on Tuesday.

Five wonderful contestants – along various points of their speaking careers – were spotlighted to present a 5-minute keynote.

Hennie Nieuwoudt shared a heartfelt story about a single missing puzzle piece from an 18,000-piece puzzle box. He expanded on this to include what he found to be the 4 strongest clues to finding purpose in LIFE – as an acronym.

Next up we had Zani B. who intrigued me with her keynote about the environmental impact and financial implications of digital technology and the responsibility of individuals and companies to make their digital footprint more sustainable. I’ll share some of her ideas in a follow-up post for JustOneThing365 #forourplanet

Michael Lee was the first to explore how we can use our breath – the very act of breathing in and out – to inspire ourselves and others.

Tim Wagner shared his journey of breathwork and how regulating our breath can lower our stress levels and improve our sleep quality. I’ve attended one of Tim’s sessions and can highly recommend him as a Breathwork Practitioner.

Our final contestant was Ursula Botha who asked, ‘What would the most empowered version of you do? A talk for recovering shy kids.’, which I completely resonated with, bringing my post full circle.

Guest speaker Marie Le Roux rounded up the evening with an a.c.e. up her sleeve.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our sterling MC Yoke Van Dam.

Huge congratulations to Ursula and Tim for going through to round 2, with Michael Lee as the next in line.