SEC Roughriders Toastmasters
Photo by Mona Gale
The member:
Heather Higgins

About her:

Heather is an interior designer and the founder of Higgins Design Studio, LLC. “I want to help busy professionals create homes that support and inspire their lives,” she says. Prior to establishing her firm in 1991, she designed both residential and commercial spaces for some of New York’s prominent architectural/interior design firms and Fortune 500 corporations.

Why she joined:

When Heather started her practice and was struggling to build a client base, she turned down an opportunity to speak to a large audience of prospective clients because she was so terrified of public speaking. “At that moment, I realized I had to overcome my fear for my business to succeed,” she says.

Her first speech:

Heather waited almost a year after joining the club to give her first speech. “I practiced for weeks and was so nervous that my presentation almost felt like an out-of-body experience,” she says. However, she learned you don’t die from fear. Not to mention, she won the Best Speaker blue ribbon that day. “Now, I actually look forward to speaking,” she says.

Her proudest SEC Roughriders moment:

Soon after Heather had given her second speech, she received a call from Home & Garden Television (HGTV) asking her to appear on their program “Designer’s Challenge”. “I credit my Toastmasters experience for giving me the confidence to accept the opportunity,” she says. In preparation, she watched every episode of the show she could find. Unfortunately, they used a new producer for her episode who didn’t ask the standard interview questions or anything remotely similar. This resulted in Heather having to speak extemporaneously on film for over an hour. “My practice with Table Topics in Toastmasters pulled me through the experience!” she says.

How she’s served the Club:

Heather is serving as the Club’s vice president of membership. “The process of getting to know prospective members and assisting them with becoming members is really rewarding,” she says.

Her advice to prospective members:

If you have limited public speaking experience when you initially join the club, it’s easy to feel intimidated as you watch some of the more seasoned members speak, she says. “Don’t compare yourself to them. Shift your focus to learn from these skilled speakers instead.”

Her public speaking tips:

“When speaking, try not to focus on yourself…how you look, what you’re doing wrong or what people are thinking. Focus on the audience and that your goal is to leave them with something meaningful,” she says.

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