Gabby Mentors

I mentor young adults by building their confidence in Public Speaking. Most of the young people I work with are working on their Senior Projects. They must give a presentation to a group to graduate. I help them develop their knowledge and skills to give a more effective presentation. It is truly amazing to watch them grow in confidence and self-esteem through this process. These young people have impressed me and touched my heart.

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It isn’t hard to coast through high school presentation projects without much preparation. A passing familiarity with a few talking points will get most students through a three minute speech. And that is all I ever really bothered with all through high school. I could throw together a power point the night before, learn my talking points while the person going before me went and I’d produce something passable more often than not. And all this time, I got away with it.

My senior year of high school, I had to spend the entire year working on a graduation project and then present my work to a board of community members. The latter part was absolutely terrifying because it was a twelve—minute speech. So, I had a project that was finished. I had my talking points. I had a plan worked out, but this time, the quality of my speaking actually mattered.

I was introduced to Linda Harigan through a family member when I expressed a need for constructive criticism on my speaking skills. She took time out of her day to let me practice my speech in her living room and listen to my project and to give me advice. It would turn out that all of the things I anticipated needing improvement on were obvious to Linda too. She did, however give me specific, practical advice on how to improve those things. I went into my board speech with advice I could act on, which is more than I ever could have asked for. I may never had considered asking for the right advice perhaps, but that would just go to show the skill Linda has for providing the criticism I needed, even without knowing what that was myself.

--Alec Stump