12 Jul

Jim Bussey at Florida International University "So You Think You Can Speak!"

(Miami, Florida) – Jim Bussey, Associate Dean at St. Thomas University School of Business, delivered an amazing speech dubbed “So You Think You Can Speak!” at Florida International University.

The seminar was intended to provide public speaking advice, but also to convince individuals that everyone has the capacity and skills within themselves to speak well in public.

Bussey was the finalist at the Toastmasters competition in 2007 and a semi-finalist in 2010.  “When you start writing things down, and see what key messages you want to give your audience, that’s when the creative juices start to become unleashed,” said Bussey, as an introduction to his speech.

The seminar was moved to a different location due to the overwhelming positive response received from students and guests who wished to attend the event. A light delicatessen dinner was served.■

The Etiquette Girl Nathalia Bogani with Jim Bussey at FIU

An interview with Jim Bussey:

TEG – Tell me about the “So You Think You Can Speak!” seminar.  How did this idea evolve?

J.B. – I am close to the alumni association at FIU.  I am an alumnus myself, and I worked here at the school of business for almost four years.  My friend, Michelle Joubert, one of the prime movers of this event, contacted me back in December and asked me to come give a speech.  I love the association and I have a special place in my heart for FIU.

TEG – How do you feel about your accomplishments of having been a finalist at the toastmaster’s competition in 2007 and a semi-finalist in 2010?

J.B. –I was encouraged by my mentor to join the competitions early on. When I first joined them I was terrible!  I would come in 8th or 6th, but the idea was to get back up, learn from those and do it again and again.  Soon, I started winning at the club level, the area contests, and the division of South Florida, which is everything south of I-595 to Key West. I competed in the district when it was the entire state of Florida and the Bahamas and where 25,000 participants competed.  When you get to the district level, the quality of speaking is just excellent.  I went to semi-finals in Greensboro and won; that put me in the finals, and by then there were about 10 of us left.  I remember not knowing what to expect because I was up against people who had been competing for years.  I will never forget waiting for the speaker in front of me to finish and when he finally did, I got out there, they introduced me and there was a tsunami of sound, then, gradually, you would hear silence and I spoke the first words of the speech that could win the world’s championship.  Whether I won or not, it was just a life-changing experience.  That inspired me to keep competing now to bring on the younger toastmasters, with all the energy and creativity they have. 

TEG – Sometimes, it’s not that people are afraid of public speaking; they have the skills, they have the charisma, but they lack vocabulary, and are unable to express their ideas correctly.  What advice do you have for those who are unable to express themselves accordingly?

J.B. – That’s a great question.  I ask myself that a lot.  So I carry little index cards with me all the time and I write words, phrases or a fragment of a conversation that has a nice turn of words.  I look back at those notes to see how I can incorporate them into my speech.  After a while your ear gets accustomed to hear these words and phrases.  It takes work, it takes commitment.  Toastmasters is a good place to do this even if you’re not a contestant because that’s where all these words and phrases come up a lot.

TEG – How long have you done public speaking?

J.B. – 20 years.  I just can’t stop.

TEG – How do you feel about the etiquette nowadays in the professional world?

J.B. – Well, first of all, there’s a decline in etiquette on the golden rule, “Treat others as you want to be treated.”  You need to treat people with respect.  You can be angry at somebody and still respect them, you can be offended by somebody and still respect them, and I think that’s the root of it.  I think we got away from that, to where it’s more of a self-centered thing, “this is about me” and “I don’t have to acknowledge anyone else.”  The lack of etiquette is so pervasive now because we’re in such a hurry.  Etiquette is something that people have placed at the end of their list, because people are busy trying to make money, busy trying to survive, busy trying to hang on to their jobs by the fingernails, and etiquette is hard to think about when you’re in this survival-mode.

TEG – What public speaking advice would you give FIU students in order to prepare for their careers and their future?

J.B. – It’s important to recognize how important [public speaking] is.  And it’s not just public speaking, it’s all forms of communication: writing, speaking on the telephone, e-mailing.  Etiquette comes into play and they should understand how important those things are.  Sometimes you get only one shot at making an impression with someone important and if you don’t know what you’re saying, or you’re not prepared and did not do your homework, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.  So, my advice would be to simply do your homework.

TEG – Thank you, Jim, for your wise words.



Public Speaking

I cannot begin to express how much I enjoyed Mr. Jim Bussey’s speech at FIU.

Let’s follow his advice next time we are faced with an opportunity to speak in public; and know that we all have the power within ourselves to do an outstanding job.

The following are notes I took from the speech.  Make sure to write them down:

  1. Have a powerful headline ready
  2. Use simple words and keep sentences short
  3. Develop a passion statement for emotional engagement
  4. Include 3 key messages.  Use metaphors and analogies
  5. Keep your priorities straight
  6. Use visual and audio support.  Props are an excellent source
  7. Remember the 10 minute rule: After 10 minutes the audience gets tired, introduce something new
  8. Use Gestures, they are very important.  Walk, move, and use vocal variety
  9. Connect with eye contact
  10. Try to refrain from using notes.  Memorize your speech

And lastly, let’s not forget the importance of appearance.  Remember to be well-groomed, wear professional attire, and don’t wear flashy jewelry or makeup. 

Always, always be prepared and you will do just fine.

- The Etiquette Girl

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