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Conversations with Barbara Rocha

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Rocha.

Barbara, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My first recollection of trauma in public speaking happened in high school. I was supposed to announce that we were going to sing “America, the Beautiful.” And I blanked out. Couldn’t remember the name of the song.

That set the tone for me for speaking. For years I was nervous about speaking in front of groups. After I sat down, I was never sure how it went or what I had said. Then I took an amazing 3-week speaking workshop that changed everything I had ever thought about speaking–it totally turned everything around. From anxiety and self-consciousness to a willingness to share ideas when I had something to say.

This was more than 30 years ago. What appealed to me was the logic of the whole thing. I have a history major and a math minor and I love things to be logical. This is logical based on principles that help you get yourself out of the way. It was such an eye-opener that I wanted to start helping others get the same sense of freedom. And so I started teaching in my living room. And one of my participants thought I should be teaching for the American Management Association–which ended up happening. From there, I developed corporate clients that have taken me all over the United States and the world to teach. It turns out lots of people respond well to a logical approach to speaking that starts with adjusting your thinking and getting out of your own way.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
When I first started, I had no idea of how to have a business or to get clients. I knew that this speaking method would help pretty much everyone–from beginners to experienced speakers. So, I tried everything that occurred to me in terms of advertising, setting up workshops on different days and different times of the day. Some things worked and some didn’t. It wasn’t that easy moving from my living room to teaching corporate classes.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I managed to get an interview with someone at The Washington Post with an eye to their bringing me in to teach some workshops for them. At that point, I’d done workshops for a number of other newspapers including the Sacramento Bee, The San Francisco Newspaper Agency and The Anchorage Daily News–which is how I was able to interview at the Post. The woman I interviewed with was the head of their large advertising department. She loved my approach to speaking which led to my conducting 3-day workshops for all 136 people in the Advertising Department–12 people at a time, with some further 1-day workshops for fine-tuning some specific presentations. While there, I found out that The Post had questioned bringing someone in from California. “Don’t we have some good speaking trainers in DC?” Her answer, “Yes, but I don’t want just “good.”

Another thing that sets my work apart is that someone in my very first class years ago improved her bowling average 20 points. Others have improved their golf games, their parenting skills, their managing skills, and their selling–as well as their speaking. And that’s because everything goes better when you learn to get yourself out of the way. And happily, I can teach people how to do that. At an in-house workshop for techies at Verizon one man said he’d gotten more out of the three days with me than with two years with Toastmasters. It’s not just technique. It’s not just a set of rules. It’s the logic of the principles which just make the whole thing seem natural.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Well, most people assume I have always been comfortable speaking–which is totally not true. Also, I like solving problems. When my daughter moved into a new house, they didn’t have a dining room table to seat all of us for holidays. So I learned how to use routers and scary saws and make “biscuits” so I could build a 4’x8′ dining room table so we could all sit together. And I’ve recently started taking a computer coding class (Python language) just for fun.


  • 1-day class (in 2-hour sessions) $225.

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Image Credits

Nicola Borland Photography Barbara Rocha

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