Speak Up and Own the Room


By Holly Fisher

On paper, Micky Kerwick’s career path might not make sense immediately, but when you dig in, it becomes clear each step has led her to the place she is now.

“There’s no way I could have picked this trajectory for myself, but everything up to this point has aligned,” she says.

Micky’s family moved from upstate New York to Charleston when she was young. She graduated from College of Charleston with a double major in English and religion and promptly headed to New York City. She worked at a Wall Street securities firm and then headed overseas to teach business English for several months in Turkey.

Returning to New York, Micky took on the role of regional head of training for athletic apparel retailer Lululemon, providing personal development and leadership training to managers and staff at its New York locations.

“In every position, every job I’ve ever had, I’ve always found my way to a role that is training and development,” she says. “Even if it’s not what I was hired for, I find the gaps in people development.”

Now living back in Charleston, Micky works as a coach for Own the Room, a communications training company. Micky travels around the Southeast and to Chicago, New York and San Francisco, providing communications training at public events and for heavy-hitters like Facebook and Google.

Micky will be sharing some of her communication tips at the Center for Women’s C4W NEW conference Nov. 15-16. Her interactive workshop, “Executive Presence: Speak to Make an Impact,” will offer techniques on how to eliminate weak language and hone your executive presence to boost audience engagement and memorability.

While a lot of companies offer communications training, what makes Own the Room different is its highly interactive teaching method, Micky says. There’s no PowerPoint presentation; instead, participants are engaging with one another and practicing new skills and techniques.

Following a training session, attendees walk away so much more aware of how they structure their message, she says.

Most people receive no training in how to be a good speaker. Maybe they took a public speaking class in college, Micky says, but mostly people learn from watching others.

“Think of people who are good speakers. They weren’t born with the ability to speak clearly, concisely and convincingly,” she says. “You practice storytelling.”

Her training addresses the brain science of how people receive and retain information, but mostly it’s practice, practice and practice some more.

At the Center for Women conference, Micky says she’ll touch on some of the communication challenges that are unique to women because their communication styles differ from men’s. In meetings, for example, women may feel as if they can’t speak and when they do, they’re interrupted by the men in the room.

A simple solution is to speak sooner rather than later, Micky says. Even if you’re simply referencing someone else’s point, speak up. “The longer you go without speaking, the more nerve-wracking it is when you do speak,” she says.

In her years of coaching and training, Micky found it’s not only communication but culture that can trip up a company. Independent of Own the Room, Micky also works with companies on talent acquisition, retention and operation in accordance with their core values.

“I take the company mission statement and look at the way leaders, managers and teams are interacting and if it’s aligned,” she says. “Usually it’s not. The disruptions in a company, in my opinion, are always related to culture. There’s some misalignment of culture.”

While Micky finds great fulfillment in teaching communications and training leaders, she also finds personal fulfillment as a yoga instructor. She teaches two or three times a week at Mission Yoga on Spring Street. It’s a chance to tap into her interest in spiritual theories, dance and movement practices.  

When she’s home in Charleston, you might spot Micky walking her dogs on Rutledge Avenue or helping her husband with his side business built around aftermarket parts for BMWs and Porches that also morphed into making and selling beer bottle openers made from car shift knobs. The couple, married two years, is in the early stages of international adoption.

A winding path for sure, but a trajectory that, in the end, aligns just as it should.


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