Phoenix-based motivational speaker Jean Briese knows a thing or two about life’s hard knocks. Her mother abandoned her as a teenager, but through the kindness of others who helped her angry, and not always very receptive, 15-year- old self, she survived.
“Though I wasn’t always a gracious receiver, their kindness changed my life,” she says.
“I made a decision in that moment that I was going to live a good life even though I had a traumatic upbringing.”
Briese went on to build an abundant career in sales and sales leadership at one of Fortune’s Top 10 companies. In this role, she coached countless individuals to become their best selves, redefined great teams and shattered what was believed impossible.
“Every team I created was an award-winning team,” she says.
Later, she founded a nonprofit organization that supports Arizona law enforcement families and, when she finally left the corporate world, it was to launch a business of her own in public speaking and leadership coaching.
“My passion is helping individuals and teams be their best and achieve breakthrough results,” she says.
We recently caught up with Briese to talk about her role as a public speaker and to gather advice on how others can up their speaking game.
What is your favorite topic to speak about?
Every topic I speak about is my favorite topic. Because whatever the topic is, the result is always the same. That is, helping people find something they can do that will make a difference in their lives. The talk I do the most is, “Five Superpowers to Be Unstoppable.” It’s a topic that relates to everybody. I also give a lot of talks about the “Seven Traits of High-Performing Women.” I love to talk to women because of my background. I was a girl in tech, long before being a girl in tech was cool. So, I’ve been through those barriers.
How do you keep your audiences engaged?
My audiences are engaged because they find me very relatable. I use a lot of storytelling, and people like to hear a good story. I use humor, so it’s fun. The talks are also very interactive. There’s a presentation, activities and sometimes even a group discussion. I also like to give folks real-life practical tips that they can engage immediately. Because so often you go to a motivational event and you leave, and you’re all pumped up. Then you go back to work the next day and that’s the end of it.
How did you train for public speaking?
My chosen career field was business-to-business sales, so I was presenting to executives. I had to hone my presentation skills, long before I ever decided to be a public speaker.
What are some tips you can share that will help others with public speaking?
When you are nervous, and all that adrenaline is running through your body, you need to let it go. Before I speak, I clench my fists very tightly then release them. Doing this pulls the adrenaline out of your body and calms you down.
[Also], practice, practice, practice, practice. You can’t practice enough. Just start telling your story and tell it to everybody so that you get used to telling it. The more you tell it, the more you’ll find out what resonates with people. That’s what public speaking is all about. You can’t reach people if they can’t relate to you.
Finally, people hate public speaking because they don’t feel confident. Just fake confidence. Even if you don’t feel it, nobody else can tell that. If you fake confidence, you come across as confident.
What are your most memorable speaking moments?
The memorable moments for me are those moments when I make a difference in somebody’s life. I once had a guy write me a letter after I spoke to a group. He said, “I had lost my purpose and I just felt lost. Now that I’ve heard you speak, I know my purpose again, I’m back on track and I feel re-energized.” That was a memorable moment for me.