Television host teaches public speaking to students
By DARRELL JACKSON, Peoria Times
“The most important thing was giving kids an opportunity to learn how to use their voice and speak well along with improving their vocabulary,” Williams said. “I had been on television and done stand-up comedy, but wanted to teach kids how to use their voice.”
She has performed throughout Arizona, including Stir Crazy Comedy Club, Tempe Improv and Stand Up Live, among others, but wanted to point out to youths that public speaking was something that could assist them throughout their lives.
“Being on television gives the students a visual that I can refer to as an example of ways to use speech and opportunity that speaking can have for them to open doors for future jobs,” Williams said. “This is what makes my public speaking workshop unique. I’m the only local television host/comedian teaching public speaking through my workshop to kids that I know of.”
Her stage presence, comic timing and enthusiastic energy have made her one of the most sought-after comics on the scene. She has opened on the road for NBC’s Last Comic Standing finalist Aida Rodriquez, comedian Donnell Rawlings from the Chappelle show and Godfrey.
She also hosts the Arizona Daily Mix on Channel 7 as well as has hosted a radio program for iHeartRadio before beginning her public speaking workshop that she brought to Peoria Elementary School.
“My television and comedy play a vital role in making my workshop that I teach of public speaking come alive. I use my comedy and sense of humor to make the students feel at ease,” Williams said.
So, while attending college classes, she reached out to Peoria Elementary School to see about getting credit for assisting in the classroom in teaching her public speaking workshop to young people.
“I was back in school and was able to get credit by teaching in a classroom at Peoria Elementary,” Williams said. “I sat down with Principal (Curtis) Smith and he was ready from the time we sat down and discussed this as an option for his students.”
She began, “The Junior Public Speaking League,” where she taught to a mix of seventh- and eighth-grade students at the school.
“I taught public speaking and presentation techniques,” Williams said. “It was a real challenge for many of the students since this is not something they do on a regular basis. I focused on students working to write as well as speaking.”
She started with the basics on how to use their voices and built upon that with writing exercises, group activities to engage conversations between students and visual tools to help stimulate students’ imaginations.
“First is the basic introduction — getting to know the students and going over who has done public speaking, who’s fearful, who’s excited about speaking in front of the class and their peers,” Williams said. “Then I would break down what public speaking is. From there we move on to the art of the conversation, which piques their interest because I have a fun interactive exercise we do. I bring out the CD player and the fun begins. This opens them up to laughter and they start to relax and not see this as another class assignment but as fun learning.”
She pointed to kids not participating in the first few workshops growing and expanding their skills that, by the end of the workshops, were leading groups and discussions.
“There were a few students, I would say in total three students, that stood out from the entire class who showed promise of good writing skills and the ability to express their thoughts on paper,” Williams said. “It was rewarding to give them a sense of self-confidence many of them didn’t even know they had.”
Smith had nothing but praise for the program Williams brought to his school and was quick to praise her interaction with the students.
“Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her desire to help students see themselves as capable and bright communicators is evident in all she does with them,” Smith said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate (Williams’) commitment to working with students. Her experiences, knowledge and expertise have served our students well.”
Williams graduated from Mesa Community College in May, using the workshops as credit to complete her associate’s degree.
“While I attended college, I was getting school credit for the public speaking workshop I created and for my community involvement with teaching at Peoria Elementary School,” Williams said. “While teaching at Peoria Elementary School from September 2017 to February 2018, it was truly one of the highlights in my process to furthering my education.”
She hopes to continue the program and possibly expand it to other schools to help with the students’ confidence in public speaking.
“I would like to continue to help where I can because I see such great promise with these kids, many whom have never had someone share with them how to use their voice, and it’s also a wonderful thing when you see some of the students showing signs of confidence and doing their part to at least try,” Williams said. “I am currently working on turning my public speaking workshop into a professional business where I help others, from entrepreneurs, leadership groups, schools and professionals with public speaking and media services for their job, school or business.”