Patricia Ball: We are making an effort. The
concept of One Voice is about including and appreciating all of the voices
represented in NSA. We can be more
inclusive by recognizing our issues
regarding diversity, which include how
open we are to connecting with people who are different, not just regarding
race, but gender, religion, sexual orientation and ways of thinking. Inadvertently, people still say things that are
inappropriate and hurtful. This often
occurs with our invocations when the
words used are exclusive; that creates
a sense of separation.
Speaker: When you think about the NSA professional standards,
how does diversity link to the Ethics Competency?
Patricia Ball: Diversity is learning to communicate with and appreciate people who think differently, who see the world differently
and who are different. It’s about putting yourself in their shoes
so you can get a realistic perspective. It’s a communication
issue that lies at the heart of Cavett Robert’s basic premise: “Our
job is to create a bigger piece of the pie.” He believed in an
abundant world; that there was plenty for all of us. Ethics speaks
to how we interact with others. The laws and code of being that
govern our interactions with people. If we approach each relationship, whether with fellow speakers, staff, or clients in an ethical and thoughtful way, there will always be plenty for all of us.
Years ago, when a person was hired for a job, he or she was
expected to assimilate—to blend in and do as everyone else
did. Today, people expect to be accepted as they are, with
their differences, holidays, beliefs, perspectives and cultures.
Speaker: And how do those differences relate to our audiences?
Is there a link to the Expertise or Eloquence competencies?
Patricia Ball: You can turn off an audience with one word.
For example, if you are speaking to an audience from San Francisco, you can immediately turn them off if you use the word
“Frisco.” They know you are an outsider who never took the time
to understand who they are. A few years ago I spoke to the
National Speakers Association of Australia’s National Convention.
I custom-tailored a story about a visit to one of Australia’s Landmarks, Ayers Rock. In some pre-program interviews, I learned
that native Australians called Ayers Rock “Uluru.” The audience
appreciated that I had taken the time to learn this.
Speaker: As our readers face more diversity within the marketplace and customer
base, what tips do you have that can help
them be more effective with clients and
Patricia Ball: One, understand that cultural
differences do exist. Two, be aware of your
own cultural issues. If you have blind spots
and don’t address them, it’s more likely you
can, and will, get tripped up. Three, make
an effort to understand other people, by
reading about their cultures and asking
questions. Four, meet people half way.
Learn to be flexible.
Speaker: What do you see for the future of diversity within NSA?
That we continue to grow and stretch ourselves beyond our
Patricia Ball: I see NSA growing as a global organization. The International Federation for Professional Speakers is attracting countries from all over the world. Although the International
organization is primarily English-speaking, it is now attracting
multilingual nations. In some countries, it may be necessary to
have their conferences translated into English in the future. The
2006 NSA Conference in Orlando had 15 countries represented. Today NSA has all minority groups being represented.
I see us getting even bigger and better.
Speaker: Do you have any final words for our readers?
Patricia Ball: Making diversity work within NSA is an ever-changing,
ongoing process. We are better now at addressing issues than
we were 10 years ago; and I suspect 10 years in the future we’ll
be even better. It’s about continuously learning.
Lawyer, coach, marathon runner, philanthropist, and author
(Esteemable Acts series), Francine Ward inspires others to go
beyond the obstacles that stand between
them and success. Contact her at