Tag Archives: public speaking

Head of the Class Mom: Shira Lahav

Meet our latest Head of the Class Mom, Shira Lahav—co-founder of Embodied Minds, a public speaking company that helps kids with presentation and self-esteem—and an amazing mom!shira

Why did you start Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants?
I am co-founder and consultant at Embodied Minds. I am also a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and a Psychoanalyst in training. During my time working in hospitals, I was leading communication and storytelling groups through drama. I recognized the power of expression and was helping my clients tell their stories in captivating ways, helping them connect with others. During these groups, I found myself guiding my clients therapeutically but also helping them deliver their stories in ways that engage and transmit the meaning to their audience in the most effective way. I enjoyed the process of directing and teaching my clients public speaking techniques. My business partner Leticia and I wanted to take this type of work beyond the hospital walls and so we did.

What is your secret to balancing work and family? Is there a balance?
My secret to balancing work and family life is to constantly remind myself the importance of both and how one feeds the other. If I dedicate enough time to my family, I feel more satisfied during the week, which helps me be more focused and fulfilled at work and vice versa.

I play various roles in my life: public speaking consultant, therapist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc. The key is to nurture each and every role and create equilibrium. This includes leaving room for self-care. It is necessary to take care of your own needs while taking care of others. In addition, I find that good time management helps, as well as scheduling quality time with my family between busy workdays. On a more practical note, twice per week I make time to take my daughter to her activities and on the weekends, we always find a fun activity to do together as a family. Additionally, my husband and I go out at least twice per week, whether with friends or on a date. Although babysitting is expensive, date nights are extremely important and we have to keep the romance going between stressful life responsibilities.

Share a funny story that helped you become a better parent and/or better at your job.
Not only am I a mommy to my 2-year-old daughter Lianne, but I am also a mommy to a 5-year-old Shih Tzu named Gizmo. When I first became a mom, I would walk out of the house with my brand new Uppa Baby Vista stroller and would keep getting smiles from strangers. Naïvely and faltered, I thought they were smiling at my baby, but in fact they were smiling at the fact that Gizmo was in the stroller too! Sitting below my baby, with his cute face sticking out of the basket curiously observing everyone around him, my little Shih Tzu found himself the perfect solution so he wouldn’t exert himself or his little paws.

As a result, I’ve learned the importance of multi-tasking and multi-use! Whether using the stroller for my baby and dog, or using the car seat as a spot for my daughter to sit and watch her favorite cartoons, I am always trying to find unique uses for expensive baby gear to make the most of every dollar spent. After all, we must find ways to save up for those “inexpensive” preschools! We also donate a lot, if not money then clothing or baby stuff that we are no longer using. It feels good to be able to help other families.

What has been your biggest challenge and/or greatest reward in the struggle for work-life balance?
Even though I love my job and try to maintain a healthy balance between work and family life I still at times feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my daughter. This is probably a result of the pressure of others and my missing my daughter during workdays. At the same time, I know how important it is to teach her that a woman can do both, be a mother and have a career.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you had kids?
That parenting is all about logistics and time management.

If you could give other moms one piece of advice what would it be?
Take other people’s advice with a grain of salt.

QUICK Q’s:

What is your favorite children’s book? “Alice in Wonderland”

What has been your favorite kids’ class?  Ballet Class at City Moves Dance Studio. [Now Midtown Movement and Dance – Ed.]

What is your favorite thing to do with your family on weekends? Go to Central Park and spend time on the lawn and children’s playground.

What is your favorite rainy day escape? The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.

Teaching Your Child to Present with Confidence!

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By: Alexandra Laura Kavanaugh

Every parent dreams of their child growing into a successful adult. We push our children to work hard in school so they can become proficient in math, science, reading, and writing…But is that enough? To achieve success within most careers, people will also need to learn to effectively communicate through speech. However, communication strategies are not often taught explicitly alongside academic skills in U.S. classrooms. Embodied Minds Kids classes can supplement your child’s inherent strengths by increasing their confidence and communication skills!

Embodied Minds Kids was born from Embodied Minds, a private company that offers public speaking consultation and life coaching to adults. The co-founders of Embodied Minds, Leticia Warner and Shira Lahav, are both registered drama therapists who use dramatic techniques and psychotherapy to help professionals and students reduce their underlying anxiety around public speaking. In treating adults, they noticed that many of their clients had traumatic public speaking experiences during their childhood or adolescence. As they both became mothers, they realized how important it was to teach effective communication skills to children at a young age, in order to prevent struggling to present oneself effectively as an adult.

What is Drama Therapy? Drama therapy is a creative arts psychotherapy that uses many of the different techniques used in the theater, such as improvisation, storytelling, embodiment, and role play. Drama Therapy works to enhance an individual’s creativity and spontaneity, making them more adept at handling the turbulence of everyday life. Children are actually the ideal clients for drama therapy because, unlike adults, they are naturals at “play”. Typically, children don’t have the fear and insecurities that often keep adults from speaking up or performing in front of others.

How does drama help kids learn public speaking skills? Research done on drama classes in schools have proven that participating in dramatic activities significantly increases students’ confidence and self-esteem, key ingredients for a strong presenter! Working on improvisation helps your child to think on their feet. Practicing vocal skills such as projection and enunciation helps your child to be more articulate and easily understood. Working with movement and embodiment helps your child to understand non-verbal communication–Kids will learn that their bodies “tell” a lot about how they’re feeling or what they want to say verbally.

Embodied Minds Kids Classes will be separated into four age groups: 7-9 year olds, 10-11 year olds, 12-14 year olds, and 15-17 year olds. By participating in groups, children will learn how to be excellent listeners and to effectively collaborate with others.

Each group is designed to be developmentally appropriate for the children:
• The 7-9 year old group will focus on developing social skills through play and creative drama. Through the use of sound and movement, children will learn how their voices and bodies can communicate with an audience. They will learn to introduce themselves to others using eye contact and a confident tone of voice!
• The 10-11 year-old group will continue to work with sound and movement as they learn to present themselves confidently to others! They will explore improvisation and role play to help develop spontaneity in their speech and movement. As these children prepare to enter Middle School, the group will participate in drama activities that bolster self-esteem to help develop a confident speaking voice.
• The 12-14 year-old group will continue to focus on the development of self-esteem in how they present themselves, as they enter into the tumultuous world of adolescence. The students will learn about how to speak differently to various audiences through improvisation and scene work. They will practice skills such as posture, tone, subtext, and gesture as they develop the facets of their emerging identities and respond to the demands of their academic and social worlds.
• The 15-17 year old group will focus on preparing the teens for the challenges of high school, college, and a career as they develop more advanced public speaking skills such as clarity, pace, and the elimination of filler words “um” or “like”. These skills will come in handy as this age group embarks on challenges such as college or job interviews, as well as intimidating school presentations.

Our goal at Embodied Minds Kids is to help your child present themselves confidently and have a blast while they do it!

Alexandra Laura Kavanaugh is a licensed Theater Educator and Kids Coach with Embodied Minds Public Speaking Consultants, LLC.

Learn more about Embodied Minds on Kidz Central Station and reserve your child’s spot now for their Public Speaking and Communications Skills Group, starting in the fall.