02/11/2013 12:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Public Speaking Is a Learned Art... and How I Did It!

The trio who teach the course...Johnny Cho, Antonette Byron and Anne Reeves

My many Hufffington readers who know me personally may be surprised to learn that there was a time when I was a fearful, ineffectual public speaker. Since these days I have no problem addressing large groups with ease and even pleasure. The secret is a learning course that I took some years ago with a group called Powerful Presentations: How to Tell It So You Can Sell It. Working with a small group of like-minded professional people, under the supervision of three excellent instructors, I was instructed, molded, practiced and perfected in the art of making a powerful presentation of my ideas and arguments. In my case, I needed work on selling my movie projects and concepts to studio executives. In my group were top executives from many companies who were expected to relate company policy to their staff, as well as several women who were starting up a beauty business and feared public speaking.

All of this came to mind today when I saw that my wonderful instructors were returning to town on Wednesday, Feb. 20th, for a class at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design (950 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena). This is one of the world's foremost institutions for art and design education. I happen to know they have assumed a leadership role in the development of new digital media (like Huffington!). I immediately signed in at for a brush-up on my skills. The cost is $135 for three-hours of instruction, and I know it will be rewarding and fun. So I suggest you join me there for a very unique and productive evening. You may be tempted to say that no one can teach me speaking skills, which was my original attitude, but I quickly learned that I was wrong. What I know is that it takes more than just getting up in front of a room and talking if you want to persuade your audience, move them, stir them and inspire them to action. It's not just what you say but how you say it that matters.

This team of exert speakers at Powerful Presentations, who have been doing this for seven years every quarter improved my public presentation skills by focusing on three essential factors which impacted on how my message was perceived... Words, Voice and Visuals. A woman named Antoinette Byron handles Voice, Johnny Cho does the Words, and Anne Reeves is the Body Language and Visuals person. The three-hour class is interactive, fun and very informative. Participants like me leave with practical skills for making successful talks in the real world. In the first half of the class the instructors speak from their area of expertise, and in the second half we all get an opportunity to give short, impromptu pitches to be evaluated in a supportive and positive way by each instructor in their particular area of expertise.

I just got a copy of the Pasadena Art Center College's catalogue page for them, and it says to its students: "You must learn to connect effectively with your audience and communicate your design ideas in a compelling way. This class will help you hone one of the most critical and often overlooked skills that every designer must possess... the professional presentation... using words, voice, body language and visuals. Mastering these skills is vital to both your academic and professional success as a designer, an artist, entrepreneur or business leader."

Which explains why I will be in Pasadena on the night of the 20th sitting in a classroom and trying to perfect my pitches for new movies. Why don't you meet me there?

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