By Jenny Simich, Marketing Strategist at Borrow My Brains, NSA Michigan Candidate

Professional speakers know you don’t just show up and “wing it.” Hours are spent developing material, rehearsing stories, and perfecting humorous punch lines and meaningful pauses. It doesn’t just happen without intention and practice.

Likewise, professional speakers recognize “the Zone.” It’s that place where your timing and delivery are impeccable, the audience is onboard, and you can almost hear “amen” as excitement builds to your conclusion.

A tried-and-true way to get from “winging it” to “amen” is the NSA Speaker’s Lab.

April Speaker’s Lab

On April 8, NSA members and candidates gathered in Novi to learn from each other and support our mutual goal of improving our message and delivery.

Veteran speakers Mimi Brown, Pam Wyess, and Breeda Miller encouraged speakers Jenny Simich and Suzanne Young. Mimi tried out some new material as well. The event was hosted by Karyl Eckerle.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

My experience at the Speaker’s Lab was both timely and immensely helpful. You see, it was Monday and I was speaking on Wednesday before an organization of executives.

I was excited but I wasn’t ready. I felt rusty. I was wishing for an audience to practice with but my family had long ago tired of these dry-run sessions.

The reminder email came in Monday morning: Speaker’s Lab tonight!  Right down the street from where I live. Ah, feedback would be great. But, I couldn’t be ready in just a couple hours … could I? And, maybe I didn’t really need to practice. I know my stuff. Right?  And, although I’ve been going to NSA meetings for a while, I don’t really know anyone that well.  Do I really want to put myself out there in front of other professionals?  And . . .   But . . . This went on for a while.

I decided to register a scant three hours before the Lab started!



How It Works

Host Karyl introduced the format and the ground rules.

For Observers:

  • Be a thoughtful listener.
  • Write down feedback on the paper provided indicating what went well, what could be better next time, and any additional notes.
  • At the conclusion, share a thought or two in a constructive way.
  • Give your notes to the speaker and provide any further clarification.

For Speakers:

  • It’s a safe space. Ask for the feedback you are looking for and be specific.
  • Describe the desired audience target for your talk.
  • List key takeaways you want to convey.
  • Mention areas you want the listeners to pay special attention to and give feedback.
  • Each speaker has 15 minutes.
  • Timing cues are provided.
  • At the conclusion of your talk, receive the comments of others graciously without taking them personally.
  • Begin!


Ready, Set, Speak

I listened to talks by Mimi and Suzanne and provided my comments to them. Each speaker received my input and asked clarifying questions when necessary. I felt great knowing I was helping others.

Then it was my turn. I began to speak and was immediately at ease. The supportive nods, smiles, and note taking were encouraging. Fifteen minutes flew by without angst.

The quality feedback I received was targeted and thoughtful. The caliber of this interaction immediately elevated my presentation content and style. Thank you, Breeda, Mimi, Pam, Karyl, and Suzanne.

Most of all, my connection to NSA members was strengthened immeasurably and I am grateful to NSA for providing the Speaker’s Lab experience.

Join us in May, won’t you?


NSA Michigan Speaker’s Labs are just another way that NSA Michigan provides value to our members! More of these opportunities are coming soon!

About the Author

Jenny Simich is a professional speaker, author, and marketing consultant. Her company, Borrow My Brains, helps companies develop and execute marketing strategies that grow revenues