From Center Stage to the Boardroom: A Learned Love for Public Speaking

  1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Whether I am questioning a founder, sharing an opinion in a board meeting, or giving my professional perspective on a podcast — I prepare. Invest the time and effort to be thoughtful in your articulations, understand your audience, and practice voicing your opinions out loud — just like a thespian would when preparing for a rigorous role. I have always considered preparation to be the best catalyst for confidence. So do the research, tap into the WeInvest community, practice in the mirror, and ask the dumb questions! Do whatever you have to do to feel prepared when the time comes for you to speak in public because this will boost your confidence.
  2. Listen, Listen, Listen: You can‘t always be prepared — that’s life. If you are a type-A personality like me, that is a fact you are unwilling to succumb to easily. However, if there is anything I learned from improvisational theater it’s that ultimately the winning strategy is getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Sometimes, on the spot, you have to improvise appropriately to asks or questions from your LP, founder, or partner. You won’t always have the right answers, but you always have the power to listen. When someone else is talking, don’t think about what you want to say next. Listen, that’s the key! In the words of Greek philosopher and theatrical influencer Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
  3. Master Body Language: Experts profess that 93% of communication is non-verbal. In other words, only 7% of what you are saying is actually coming out of your mouth. Therefore, it is imperative to focus on elements like eye contact, hand gestures, posture, appearance, stance, tone, etc. These things matter — this is theater 101. Here, I recommend you record yourself and watch it back. It might make you cringe, but you will uncover things you never knew about your communication style. With that as a starting point, look towards people you admire as public speakers, and study their style. How do they communicate without speaking?
  4. Be Yourself: Although it is good to learn from those you consider fantastic public speakers, don’t try to copy them. That always feels inauthentic. Be yourself — which means invest the time figuring out who you are as a public speaker. In theater, one character will be interpreted a hundred ways by a hundred actors — there is no right way. In investing, phoniness in founders and funders alike is easily spotted and little appreciated. Instead, find your unique voice and own it!
  5. Have Fun: There is so much pressure to be perfect when public speaking, and it’s counterproductive! I’m also guilty of taking myself too seriously sometimes. However, looking back, the best public speaking engagements I have ever been a part of are the ones that were the most fun — that’s what is memorable for an audience, joy and passion! In theater, actors learn not to overly stress about missed lines or entrances — oftentimes the audience doesn’t even notice. As an actor, you are taught to seamlessly react to the hiccup and move forward. So laugh at yourself when you mess up in public and keep going — the show must go on!
Natalia Gonzalez Vela

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WeInvest is a community of women investing in Latin America across Venture Capital, Private Equity, Family Offices, Accelerators, and Angel Investments.