“In owning your voice, you leave your mark.” So said author, entrepreneur, and educator Holley Murchison about the value of a good pitch.
On Friday, Feb. 23, in a packed Chase Hall, Murchison led a hands-on lecture, “Tell Me About Yourself,” designed to help students better communicate their goals, stories, and vision for professional success. The Writing Program and Writing Center—along with the Office of Academic Resources, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Healthy Body Healthy Minds program, and the Center for Career and Professional Advising—organized and sponsored the event as part of the Mark and Lillian Shapiro Speaking Initiative, a two-year-old enterprise, supported by Ron Shapiro ‘64 and his wife, that funds one-on-one coaching and peer mentoring, workshops, visiting speakers, and symposia to help Haverfordians improve their public-speaking skills.
The workshop was named after Murchison’s book of the same name—which was freely available to audience members—and introduced participants to her communications methods. Building upon the “four wells” of background interests, values, passions, and skills, Murchison helped audience members gain the confidence to effectively talk about themselves. Through the process of “helping people find their jam,” Murchison hoped her workshop would provide audience members with the tools to catalyze the change they want to see in the world.
“In deciding to invite Holley to campus, we were drawn to her mission of amplifying marginalized voices to catalyze change,” said Kristin Lindgren, director of College Writing Center. “We hope that the Speaking Initiative can foster many modes of speaking up and speaking out and highlight Haverford students’ beautifully varied voices and experiences.”
Students from the Writing Center, the OAR, and the OMA met with Murchison prior to the lecture to brainstorm future directions for the Speaking Initiative.
“The steps that Murchison underlined in her workshop and book helped me feel more confident in expressing myself,” said Writing Center Tutor Jane Bary ’19. “After attending Murchison’s workshop hosted by the Speaking Initiative, I feel that job interviews for the summer will be easier now that I feel more comfortable expressing my passions and goals.”
With its goal of supporting the development of oral communication skills, the Mark and Lillian Shapiro Speaking Initiative supplements the written communication enrichment already offered by the OAR and the Writing Center. From coaching first-years on participating effectively in seminar discussions to training seniors on how to best present their thesis, the skills students acquire provide a foundation for personal and professional development in Haverford and beyond. Currently, the Writing Program and OAR are working together to organize a Story Slam in April.
Photo by Victoria Merino ’20.