This is a guest post by Jasmine Rakhra. Jasmine joined the LEAP Academy 2 years ago and has been flourishing as a youth voice in the mental health field since. Recently, Jasmine joined the Mavrixx team to support the next cohort of LEAP Members. We are thrilled to have you meet her. Here she shares part of her journey of going through LEAP Academy.
It was 2 years ago when my good friend, Brent Seal sent me an invitation to take part in his beta youth speaker training program with 4 other incredible youth advocates/friends. When I first embarked on this journey of being a speaker sharing my lived/living experiences with mental health challenges and trauma, I had no idea where this program was going to take me and whether I would ever feel comfortable in my own skin.
I contemplated whether investing in myself would be worth it and was worried I was throwing away money I barely had at the time. I was a full-time university student living on my own while balancing full-time work. I was committed to this vision of becoming a better public speaker, but was concerned how I would add this on to my already full plate.
Having been through the program 2 years ago and getting paid to do what I love for a living, I can now confidently say that doing the work through the LEAP Academy tremendously impacted the course of my career in mental health. It was the first time I chose to invest in bettering myself to be the highest, best and authentic version of myself and taking a leap (no pun intended) outside of my comfort zone.
Now the good stuff! In the program, I learned of 4 foundational pillars that enable a successful speaker – these pillars are known as the 4 LEAP Pillars (Positioning, Promoting, Preparing, and Performing).
Let me break down what each one of these pillars mean and what I learned as I went through the program:
Positioning refers to establishing your personal brand, building your credibility, and determining your niche (target authentic and the topic/subject area you want to be known as a speaker in). This pillar for me came with tremendous learning and resistance.
It was challenging to establish what I wanted my brand to stand for and picking a niche that was specific enough, but not too specific. My idea of personal branding and my niche is still evolving, but LEAP was a great starting point and gave me a place to bounce ideas around with others who were in the same boat.
Promoting refers to getting more speaking engagements, getting paid to speak at different venues, and generating ‘deal flow’ (access to opportunities that others may not have). I was getting a good amount of speaking opportunities, but the problem was that I didn’t know how to market myself as a speaker with a fee and negotiate a speaking fee I felt was worth the amount of work that was required to promote, plan, and perform the day of. I was fortunate to have good positioning coming into LEAP within the mental health community and was often one of the first youth consulted for different opportunities, as I publicly shared my story and lived/living experience quite openly.
Preparing refers to creating a framework, how to structure speeches, and how to prepare leading up to the big day. Once I established my niche of complex challenges and my target audience being service providers, Brent helped me create a framework that I would use to structure my speeches and helped me develop key messages I wanted to articulate in my speeches. It also helped me establish consistency with my messaging and across a number of speeches with different audiences and at different venues. In addition, It was helpful to learn how Brent structured his speeches and how simple it really was to construct a good speech.
Performing refers to voice techniques and stage presence on how to keep an audience engaged and inspired. This pillar is often one that speakers spend the least amount of time on, but is one that is really valuable and dictates how your message/story is received by the audience. Language is important, but the tone of voice you use to voice the language can change what the sentence means and surface different feelings in different people. Furthermore, people can really tell if you are speaking authentically and from your heart – letting your emotion and passion come through is okay and makes your story even more powerful piece to digest – it makes it relevant and inspiring!
If you have a story to share and want to share it with audiences big and small, we’d like to invite you to apply to join the next cohort of the LEAP Academy starting Nov 1, 2017.
Applications are open now, but are closing soon.
All the details here…
*Pictured – Jasmine speaking at the Balancing Our Minds Youth Summit at Roger’s Arena