Present Yourself Alumna Interview: Yina Smith-Danenhower

One of the main reasons we wanted to offer our 8-week Present Yourself course as an online program was to make it more accessible to our entire global community, allowing participants to learn on their own time while still having the support and feedback of a live cohort. The online format opened up the possibility of offering expertise from a variety of experts and guest speakers in our community. 

With four Cohorts scheduled for 2022, we asked for feedback on the topics and structure throughout the course and what alumni found most useful upon finishing. Here is what one alumni had to say in her own words – meet Yina!

Yina Smith-Danenhower currently works at XAPP AI as a Conversational Product Designer. Before Present Yourself, she had little speaking experience outside of presentations of studio work while at architecture school. In professional roles, she has rarely had to present, whether client-facing or internally, but as she grows in her current role, she anticipates more client-facing presentations. That’s why she decided to take Present Yourself.

We chatted with Yina about Present Yourself as well as her goals as a speaker.

WTD: What kind of speaking are you most interested in and what are your goals for speaking? 

Yina: My “why” for speaking is to gain leadership in my industry. Since Present Yourself, I’ve been speaking at a few conferences and webinars virtually. That’s the area I’m most interested in speaking because it will help me establish leadership and voice in the industry. 

WTD: Heading into Present Yourself, what were you most excited about? What made you commit?

Yina: It was the right time. I was assuming a more important role at work than I had ever had. My company was also very supportive of my growth and education, sponsoring the course for me, which was great motivation as well. 

WTD: What questions did you have going into the course and how were they answered?

Yina: I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was just hoping to come out of the course a more confident speaker. I didn’t expect to learn the actual speaking techniques so I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of material and the number of ways we were taught to deliver ideas. 

WTD: What part of the course was most useful to you?

Yina: I wasn’t aware of the power of story, let alone how to come up with a story and deliver it. With a story, your speech becomes much more relatable and alive, which is the most useful thing I learned. Other than that, the part about preparation before speaking was super helpful. 

WTD: How do you feel the tools you learned in the course set you up to achieve your goals?

Yina: I will be more prepared before I speak now and I will be more confident in delivering my speech because I can engage the audience more with stories. I also learned a lot on how to spread the word about myself as a speaker and get more speaking opportunities. 

WTD: What is the next step you’ll take as a speaker?

Yina: Since Present Yourself, I’ve gotten a few speaking opportunities at various events and conferences, but they are all virtual. I believe speaking in person would be a totally different experience and something that I still need to master. Hopefully, once covid restrictions are lifted and events are returning to in-person, I will get some more opportunities.

Thank you Yina for diving into Present Yourself and for sharing your experience with us! We are so glad to have you as part of our community and can’t wait to see what’s next. 

Enrollment for our January 2022 Present Yourself Cohort closes next Monday, January 10th. If you’ve been thinking about moving your speaking career forward or taking your presenting skills to the next level, now is the time to join! We also have resources available to ask your employer for reimbursement and advice on how to prepare and get the most out of the program. 

Have questions? Reach out to us anytime via our website or social and we’ll be happy to answer them!

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