Case Study: Christine – SZM group speaking courses and private coaching allowed her to speak spontaneously in a global HR corporate webinar.

Christine Gust was an HR Director at a global oil and gas services company.  Her gregarious, joyful nature won her lots of professional accolades and promotion opportunities.  The one thing she lacked was the ability to speak authoritatively “on her feet” in spontaneous professional situations.

She participated in two Sandra Zimmer method group courses called Speaking from the Heart. Christine specifically focused on developing comfort at the center of attention and leadership presence so she could think on her feet at work.  She challenged herself in group settings to contribute more ideas and insights in order to establish more authority and become more visible to senior leaders.  Her efforts led to the opportunity to present a sensitive HR topic which was watched via video conference by all company HR employees world-wide. 

We coached privately to prepare Christine for the webinar. She collected her points and we practiced the nuggets of content that she intended to share. We also used video to give her some feedback about how she was coming across on-camera.

Here are her comments about her experience of speaking on the video conference:

Last Friday morning I had my big presentation about implementing common Human Resources policies in the Company. The presentation was from 7-9 a.m., and I was being filmed so it could be broadcast live on the computer, so our HR managers in the Houston area and in the UK could participate. I used the tip sheet that Sandra gave us about creating connection at the beginning. I wrote reminders at the top of my notes (Ground, make a silent connection, use soft eyes, receive their energy, etc.) I used the visualization of stepping into the river with a fast-moving current with a solid introduction, rather than diving in.

I reviewed the last video I did in class several times and really appreciated hearing all the positive feedback you gave me. It helped me build confidence that I have changed and I can do presentations the way I want to do them and feel natural about it.

Finally, I reminded myself to give up the idea of perfection and go for impactful and authentic, as Sandra said. I decided that if I just did the best I could and stayed in my body, I would be fine. Well, the presentation went very well. I felt present and didn’t need to refer to my notes at all. I included other people in the presentation by doing role plays, and they did a great job, too. Everyone seemed to have fun.

Was it perfect? No, and that’s fine with me. The most important thing was that I integrated what I’ve learned this past year from Sandra & everyone else in my classes, and I know I can do it differently now. It just takes practice!

Christine eventually left the corporate world and became a naturopath and environmental activist.  In 2017, she toured the Colorado State Capital where she jumped at the opportunity to give a testimony about amateur wine tasting contests at a committee hearing on a bill being considered by the Colorado legislature.

Christine Gust shared her experience on Facebook, “Years ago, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this on the spot because I was terrified of speaking in public. But, I took life-changing classes called “Speaking from the Heart.” Here’s a big thank you to Sandra Zimmer, who founded the The Self-Expression Center in Houston. Many thanks, Sandra!”