An Evening with the Professional Women’s Network and Touchstone Training

Recently, one of our members, Rebecca Aftergood, attended a PWN Network event in Vancouver, BC. Seeing the opportunity to network with other women in our city, Rebecca also sent us this great post about her experience. Enjoy and be sure to check out PWN sometime for yourself! rebeccapwn

Last night I attended the Professional Women’s Network event “Presenting yourself with big impact”. The speaker was the engaging Katrina Dunn of Vancouver’s Touchstone Training. The PWN is a Canadian non-profit networking agency, connecting women in business to each other. The Vancouver chapter has over 800 members and they host 6-10 events per year, open to both members and non-members.

The evening started at the offices of Fasken Martineau, the network sponsor. After walking in, I made a B-line for the wine, then changed my mind and headed for the food table… first things first. I didn’t even notice the spectacular view that greeted me out the back window until I had my plate of food in front of me. (I hadn’t eaten in a while).

The first hour was general non-structured networking. Last night there was an abundance of experience in the room, from entrepreneurs with successful companies to executives at large corporations and everything in between. One of the volunteers told me that the make-up of each event changes with the topic.

Last night’s topic “Presenting yourself with big impact” was focused on public speaking, and, naturally, the event was full. At 6pm we all took our seats (most with a glass of wine) and were introduced to Katrina Dunn, the keynote speaker. For 17 years, Katrina has been the artistic director of Touchstone Theatre. In 2002, she developed Touchstone Training, which is now the leading provider of acting-based presentation skill training, with workshops across Canada.

She was, not surprisingly, an extremely engaging and confident speaker (and funny too!). Coming from a background of actor training, her lecture was different from all others I’ve attended on public speaking. Katrina’s focus is on the physical body, how it looks and sounds when you are presenting, and the impact it has on the audience. She is focused on ensuring that your vocal and physical presence does not undermine your content. Katrina’s “3 keys to big impact” are: being heard, standing your ground, and generating confidence.

With these keys in mind, Katrina led the whole group through vocal exercises (like the ones you see actors doing on TV). At first the atmosphere was a bit uncomfortable and self-conscious. After a few exercises that all changed. Eventually the audience was happily belting out “oh”s and “ah”s, massaging our jaw muscles and sticking out our tongues with ease. The audience last night got a taste of Katrina’s workshop, limbering up our vocal systems, which helps a presenter project, breathe, and not trip over her words.

In her training, Katrina borrows techniques from her years as an acting coach. When an actor is trained, she told us, they work to strip away their own idiosyncrasies to become vessels of expression. This is one of the main ideas behind Touchstone Training. We all have idiosyncrasies when speaking (touching our hair, shifting, fiddling etc) that take away from our content. And, after all, many of us are acting when public speaking already – acting confident and self-assured.

Katrina’s lecture was fun, informative, and gave me a new point of view from which to consider public speaking. All in all, I’d say that my first PWN meeting was a success, and I will definitely be attending the next one.

For more information on PWN and Katrina Dunn, please check out the links below!

Thanks for reading! You can connect with me through my website or through social media with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest!

By Rebecca Aftergood

Creating unexpected and extraordinary events

President & Event Coordinator

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