Name: Christine Clapp
Title: President, Spoken with Authority
What is it that you do on a day to day basis?
I transform experts into leaders through public speaking coaching and training workshops. On an average week, I meet with several clients on a one-on-one coaching basis, I conduct one a small-group coaching class, I put on one or two workshops for larger groups, and I engage in business development and marketing activities.
What are your favorite parts of your job?
My favorite part about being a public speaking trainer and coach is seeing the transformation in clients. They go from anxious to excited, uncomfortable to proud, self conscious to confident. Helping people develop their voice gives them agency to make their mark on the world. Playing a small roll in that is incredible.
How did you get into your field? Was it something you always wanted to do or something you discovered bit by bit?
I hated public speaking as a child and young adult. In fact, my dad even mentioned in our Christmas letter one year that I was excelling in elementary school, but giving a book report was a skills yet to be mastered. In college, I had to participate in debate as a requirement of my major. I lost all of my 12 required debates. In one particularly humiliating defeats to a top team in our region, I realized the my opponents, while articulate, were otherwise no smarter than me. I also realized that if I didn’t improve my communication skills, peers like them would earn higher grades, land better jobs and rise to more senior leadership positions than me. In that moment, I decided that I would become a polished public speaker and empower others to do the same.
What aspect of your work most surprised you? (Either in a good way or a bad way.)
I’m always amazed by how little public speaking training professionals have (including seasoned leaders). Some have had one entry-level college course, but many have not. It is no wonder they feel nervous and overwhelmed by the prospect of crafting and delivering an important presentation! They don’t have the tools to succeed. And I’m glad I can provide them.
I’m also surprised by the amazing growth these professionals experience when they learn the tools of the trade, get some encouragement and have opportunities for guided practice.
Does your education (high school, college or graduate degree) matter in terms of the work that you do today?
I think your life experiences matter most in shaping the work you do. Your education certainly influences that. For example, had I not attended Willamette University, I likely would not have majored in Rhetoric or participated in a nationally ranked debate program. I didn’t select Willamette for these reasons, but attending there opened the door to these experiences. If I would have gone to a different college or universities, I most certainly would have had different experiences and pursued a different, though not necessarily an inferior, course for my career.
What environmental factors have the greatest impact on your job satisfaction? (For example: co-workers, compensation, company culture, flexibility, work/life balance, etc.)
The most important factors in my job satisfaction are:
1. The ability to select my clients (I only take on clients who are willing and enthusiastic)
2. The ability to set my schedule (I set my appointments so I can maximize time with my husband and two young children, and participate in my hobby, which is long-distance running)
Any career advice you’d like to pass along to others? (My audience is comprised mainly of adults in their twenties and thirties.)
Starting your own business can be very daunting. But it offers a great deal of freedom (in terms of what you do, when you do it, and who you do it for / with). And, you can’t get laid off!
If readers are interested in working with me to improve their communication skills, I’m putting on a Happy Hour Workshop on Toasts, which will take place in D.C. on November 8. Here are details: http://hillcenterdc.org/home/programs/260