The Blackstone Launchpad at CSI, hosted by the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business,  recently offered students an opportunity to improve their public speaking abilities. Many attended the Zoom event, led by members of the Staten Island chapter of “Toastmasters,” hoping to pick up a few tips to take back into the classroom and, eventually, into their careers. After taking in the exciting presentations and engaging in the constructive conversations that followed, it is fair to say that this event did not disappoint.  

The keynote speaker of the event was Toastmasters’ own Mario Lewis, the managing director and head of Citibank’s IGC North American Engagement Team, and former team leader at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Lewis, who has won several awards for his public speaking,gave an extensive presentation on how to give a strong, captivating speech. He offered advice on controlling nerves before and during a speech, explaining his public speaking process. Lewis discussed both verbal and non-verbal communication, contending that confident body language and strong tone are even more important than the content of a speech. He also focused on speaking naturally, urging his audience “(not to) memorize your speech, (but) internalize your message.”

Following Lewis’s presentation, the students in attendance took part in an exercise that tested their creativity, as well as their ability to effectively convey their ideas. Students worked in groups, trying to find ways to improve the toaster. Once they came up with their ideas, these groups gave short pitches explaining their thoughts, employing their newly learned public speaking skills. Each group received constructive reviews on both their ideas and their presentations from the Toastmasters members.

This workshop served as a fun, interactive way for students to hone their skills and make new connections. Those in attendance learned about an invaluable skill, working hand-in-hand with masters of the trade. Chazanoff School Founding Dean Susan Holak applauded the event, noting the invaluable advice shared with attendees.  She applauded the efforts of Professor Heidi Bertels, Associate Professor of Management and campus Co-director for Blackstone LaunchPad at CSI, for facilitating the collaboration with our community partners.  Blackstone LaunchPad at CSI looks forward to continuing the growth of the entrepreneurial spirit on our campus.

BY: John Paul Hoey