A former lawyer turned professional speaker is on her way to Texas as one of 10 people out to prove they have the best way with words.
Diane A. Ross, who lives in Nanoose Bay and works in Victoria and Vancouver, heads to Dallas to take part in the eWomen Network’s 2013 North America’s Next Great Speaker competition Aug. 8.
“It feels like a lot of pressure and I think if somebody said to me ‘You have an hour,’ I would feel way more confident,” she said. “It’s sort of like me saying to people ‘Take a chance … You can do it.’ … I’m trying to apply the same thing.”
Ross was one of hundreds to send in 90-second video clips explaining why she should be considered for the title. The top 15 submissions were selected by judges, then posted online for the public to vote for their favourites. That whittled the list down to 10.
The contestants will each give a three-minute speech in Dallas, from which judges select three finalists. Those remaining must then present a six-minute speech, which will determine the winner.
In her former life as a litigation lawyer, Ross honed the skills of presenting arguments and getting her point across while still playing to the sympathies of her audience.
She left the profession at 40 in hopes of finding a career that would bring more positivity into her life and others. She studied executive coaching at Royal Roads University, beginning her journey to her present career.
Her speciality is difficult conversations in the workplace. The topic has led to speaking engagements, workshop presentations and a book, The Elephant in the Office: Super-Simple Strategies for Difficult Conversations at Work.
This will be the focus of her speech in Texas.
“I think what I’m going to do is I’m going to talk to people about how you can prepare for and have a conversation in just three sentences,” Ross said. “We assume that it’s this big, complicated thing, but it can actually be as simple as three sentences.”
She is now working on a second book focused on personal relationships, called Do You Want to be Right, or Do You Want to Have More Sex? It’s due out this September.