In the image above: (L) Editor in Chief of The Oslo Times Hatef Mokhtar & in (R) Speaker, Artist & Author Ms. Rebecca Rifai of Canada.
Speaker, artiste, author:
She has been chiseling her path in the arts for most of her life. Working as a celebrity speaker, actor and recently becoming an author. More importantly, as a humble woman, Rebecca Rifai speaks about the boundaries and opportunities of her industry and world at large. These are her thoughts on public speaking, the arts and everything else.
ifai is not only a very good, humble, honest and refined human being with a lot of sincere good feelings for one and all, she is also a person who has a great understanding and insight as well as respect for freedom, democracy and human rights, for every individual in the globe.
The versatile Rebecca Rifai is also a delightful and charming woman with keen wisdom emanating from her being and added to this is her gracious personality which radiates like a beam of enlightenment for each and everyone who meets and talks to her.
Madam Rebecca Rifai: “The Oslo Times” feels honoured and privileged to be interviewing you. We are sure that your views will be a boon for our worldwide readers.
TOT: Well madam, today, you are an authority in the realm of speech making and presentation. But this hasn’t always been the case for there was a time when you were terrified of public speaking. Could you share with us the details of a certain blunder or a crippling moment emanating from a sense of stage or crowd fright that occurred early in your life or career?
Rebecca: I always knew that on the inside I was a very confident woman, but having to let this expression surface was difficult for me. Giving a speech at an assembly, conducting class orals, school camps, at Rotary and workshops, these were all opportunities that presented a major challenge. Time and time again I felt embarrassed after speaking to an audience. I knew I was a better person than what was in front of my peers; I just lacked the knowledge to conquer my crippling fear and knew it would take a lot of perseverance to get through this.
"I knew I was a better person than what was in front of my peers; I just lacked the knowledge to conquer my crippling fear and knew it would take a lot of perseverance to get through this."
As a child, and even now as an adult, surprisingly I am quite shy. It is however the opportunities that I have been blessed with that have allowed my personality to shine. I have been given a voice to inform, inspire and excite. And so as I embrace my career I find myself opening up many opportunities for those that want to build their confidence, to find their voice, to communicate effectively and to become champion speaker.
As the author of Presenting 101, I can relate to those that get nervous. And so what I aim to do with this book is to demonstrate how these nerves can be turned into a positive experience on screen, the microphone, and on the stage. Public speaking is a fearful experience for many, but I will show readers how to run with this and to turn their energy into an empowering experience.
My passion for effective communication transcends through the words on the pages. I want nothing more than to see people succeed at public speaking.
TOT: In the face of true or imagined fear, people resort to their ‘flight or fight’ mechanism. What made you choose to fight this specific fear instead of simply avoiding it altogether?
Rebecca: I was a bright student and did extremely well in my areas of interest, which were drama, art, sport and English. The acknowledgement from my teachers helped to feed my desire to do well at what I would commit myself to. Along with this I developed an interest in motivational books. As I read I found other authors who had similar struggles in life and had turned their challenges into something great.
"I learnt at a very young age that I was capable of achieving a lot more that I ever would have thought."
The authors, my mentors, taught me that it was okay to stand out, that life would reward me with dividends if I took opportunities when they presented themselves to me. They told me to embrace fear; that we never achieve anything great when we live within our comfort zone. And so, I knew that some day, somehow, I would be able to speak up to those that I couldn’t before and create a fruitful life.
TOT: Well madam, in your opinion, what made you succeed in this domain? What are the defining qualities that helped you evolve as a presenter?
Rebecca: I believe what it comes down to is the willingness to get the most out of life. Walking with a fear that we believe we cannot overcome is detrimental. Pushing through these fears is empowering. Life is to be embraced. We all have an interesting story to share and we all have the ability to achieve amazing things. A positive mind, trust in yourself and taking the leap of faith is what will build the strength in one’s character and makes one stand out as a leader.
Procrastination is one of human’s biggest flaws. Complimentary to that is a lack of belief in one’s own self. Sometimes the best part of life is about trusting our instincts and challenging others when they say that we can’t do something. If you believe you can’t then at least give it a shot and surprise yourself instead of giving in. If I listened to all of the gremlins in my life that told me to quit I wouldn’t be where I am now.
"Life is a journey. We live and we learn but we must make the most out of it."
I trusted in myself that through all of my flaws and mistakes I would succeed in public speaking and I am proud of myself for doing so.
TOT: Well that is nice to hear. Now madam, what was the tipping point in your career?
Rebecca: I had learnt very early on that a career in the entertainment industry meant not worrying about being embarrassed. And so I always took a chance at putting myself forward for interesting roles. Did I feel embarrassed at the time? Sometimes, yes. But I kept taking chances in the hopes that something exciting would eventuate. I had heard that the Commonwealth Games were approaching and that this could possibly be the opportunity that I was searching for, to speak at the event.
At the time I was working for a radio station as a field correspondent. I was young and ambitious and had been recording myself on camera while I would go to the stations events. What I recorded were little pieces to camera about random exciting topics out on the road.
I was never asked to do this; it was just something I liked to do for fun. I never knew, at the time, that this video I recorded would come in use for submitting me for the Commonwealth Games.
So I edited this video together and sent it off. Little did I know that soon I would get a call back to say that I would speak in front of millions of people for the gymnastics at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
I would be running the show, interviewing the athletes, completing voice over’s and speaking on behalf of the network stations. That was a moment in my life that I will never forget and a moment that is one of the greatest memories I have to be grateful for.
TOT: Your new book, “Presenting 101”, has been launched recently. In it, you describe the means to develop and hone one’s presenting skills – be it for TV, radio or at events and functions.
However, the book could also help in many ways all those who aren’t necessarily pursuing a career as presenters. Could you explain in which ways your book might help non-professionals?
Rebecca: This book is about harnessing readers’ confidence to speak to an audience and giving them the tools to ‘think outside the box’. Public speaking is part and parcel of everyday life, be it at a seminar, a wedding or in an office meeting and so why not make it fun? Right? I want readers to develop a passion and excitement for their next public speaking engagement.
It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to get up in front of an audience and to feed off their energy. Readers will develop an enthusiasm for improving their public speaking skills and walk away from the experience with a new open mind.
Periodically I conduct “Presenting 101” workshops. In these, there have been a whole array of people attend. Health care professionals, construction managers, CEOs, teachers, dentists and the likes have celebrated these workshops as being something that has changed their life in a positive way.
I am so proud to say that I have enriched their lives with an experience that they will never forget. I am rewarded by their successes and that is the greatest gift I could ever hope to receive.
TOT: Well madam, some people are naturally eloquent and quick on their feet while others are not. Do you believe that such qualities could be developed? If yes, how much could one improve such skills?
Rebecca: Absolutely. As an eternal student of the arts, improvisational skills are an asset. To be able to think quickly on our feet can be developed by tapping into our imagination, developing good listening skills and overcoming the notion of being embarrassed.
The improvisational skills taught in “Presenting 101” will help one muster their inner confidence so as to avoid and overcome being caught out. Readers will learn how to not get stuck on a script, work in synergy with an audience and harness the unexpected.
One of the greatest gifts I can offer in the book is how to overcome mistakes. People often ask me what to do if they fall over on stage, if they forget their lines, or make fools of themselves. What I teach is largely improvisational based, meaning that now people can embrace these moments and turn them into something truly magical, while speaking to a public gathering.
And so it is with learning improvisational skills that someone can overcome being nervous, because all of their greatest fears are addressed and solutions are provided, for each of these. But not only this; it’s also about making speaking memorable words. Some people also fear being boring but now they’ll be anything but this.
TOT: How long does it take one to start noticing results or improvements – assuming that he/she avidly practices your methods and exercises?
Rebecca: For every person, it is different. But I know that changes can be immediate. Through teaching people in the book and in the workshops I have seen instantaneous improvements.
It’s important to have a mentor who knows the craft you want to learn and so as that mentor I am able to give students the confidence to practice the techniques I teach through example. Sometimes we know the answer to a challenge but lack the guidance to implement these skills.
I give readers lots of options to choose from and with this array of delicious choices come the excitement to surprise themselves. Reading is one thing, if they apply these skills miraculous things will happen. I know … I’ve seen it.
I pride myself as a positive mentor who only wants my students to excel in the art of public speaking. If readers of the book keep an open mind, which I know they can, step by step, they will become brilliant at public speaking.
TOT: Alright madam. Now please tell us what are you currently working on? And what is the next step for you?
Rebecca: The book and speaking are my main priority. However my other love is acting; this is something I took up at the age of six. The first half of this year has been very exciting. I’ve recently signed a contract with a leading talent agency and management company in North America and have found a great acting coach named Daniel Bacon.
They’ve been keeping me very busy sending me out on all sorts of wonderful auditions, booking several TVCs and so forth.
My latest role was on a feature for Tides Canada and a shoot for “Jugo Juice”. Canada feels like the right place to be at the moment and so I am taking each day as it comes.
So fingers crossed, I hope the momentum keeps rolling. Other than that I look forward to learning how “Presenting 101” has positively impacted people’s lives. I am truly excited to hear of the results and something tells me that there’s going to be many moments to celebrate.
Add a Comment