Present Yourself Alumna Interview: Francesca Barrientos

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 our last Cohort of 2022 kicking off soon, we asked alumni for feedback on the topics and structure throughout the course and what they found most useful upon finishing. Here is what one alumni had to say in her own words – meet Francesca!

Francesca is a senior design strategist at Cisco. She helped create the Cisco Design Thinking process and has been working to cultivate a more design-led organization.  Before entering the private sector, all of Francesca’s speaking was for academic conferences.  She’s had the opportunity to speak at both internal and external conferences but it’s only the last couple of years that she’s spoken at industry conferences.

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

Francesca: I’m still trying to figure out my public speaking goals. Of course, I intend to keep improving my internal  presentations.  But I’m working out when and why I want to do public speaking. 

The conference talks I’ve done so far resulted from me feeling particularly passionate about a topic, and I really wanted to share those ideas, or because I had done some work that I felt would be helpful for others. I’m still trying to figure out which ideas I’m passionate about enough to share. 

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

Francesca: I was excited to really explore the idea of public speaking to share my personal stories, not just presenting dry academic ideas.  I also wanted to learn about the craft of public speaking.

I was excited about Present Yourself because my experience with Women Talk Design has always been that the instructors are interested in helping us find our voices and find our own way.  I knew it wasn’t just some outfit trying to sell their own version of how to be a public speaker.

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

Francesca: The parts of the course that were most useful to me were first, practicing every week. Having to show up and make something come out of my mouth and getting feedback from a live audience even if it was just one other person.  It made the material more alive for me to speak it aloud to someone.

The 2nd thing was getting a lot of different perspectives on why to speak and how to just be a speaker.  The material came from a lot of different speakers with different viewpoints, so I felt I could go through it and just find what resonated with me. 

My questions were really ones about craft and also about how to just be a public speaker.  Like, is there some special feeling you have that makes you want to be a speaker. 

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

Francesca: Now I approach every presentation as an opportunity to really tell a story and be intentional about how I want the audience to feel when my talk is done.  And there is so much material, I feel like I could go back to it as I decide to evolve different parts of my speaking. 

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

Francesca: My next step is to think about my next talk, feel what’s bubbling up that I want to speak about. 

Thank you Francesca for being a part of Present Yourself and for sharing your experience with us! We can’t wait to see what’s next!

We still have one more Present Yourself Cohort scheduled for 2022! If you’ve been thinking about moving your speaking career forward or taking your presenting skills to the next level, sign up now. 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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