When I first started out as a keynote speaker in New York, I was convinced that my talk had to be ‘polished’ to impress my audience.

I remember it so well.

I was at the Professional Speaker’s Continuing Education workshop and I was picked to rehearse my keynote speech on stage in front of all the participants.

They were all professional public speakers. I had to put my big girl pants on and go for it!

As you can imagine, I tried my best to be as perfect as possible.

I knew my speech inside out, back to front. I also knew when I would pause and I even imagined at what point my audience might laugh (and how I would react to their amusement).

In my own mind, it was perfect. What could possibly go wrong?

After a few moments of my keynote speech, the head coach stopped me.


“Natsuyo, you are poised, you are powerful, you are a performer. But something is blocking you. What is it?”


I had no idea that in my quest to be ‘perfect’, I had created some kind of block between me and the audience.

But what was it? And more importantly, how could I break it down so I could really engage my audience?

Over the lunch break, we were got talking about what our passions were (outside of public speaking, or course). I had been a ballroom dancer since 2004. I also started ballet at the age of 3 (till 10), then theatre dance, jazz dance…. on and off, so I’ve been dancing for more than half of my life. It’s part of my DNA!

“Why don’t you ballroom dance in your speech?”  chimed my speaker coach.

My immediate reaction was

“Ahm… dance…in my keynote…? No, It’s not “proper” in a business setting.”

Then she said:


“But you light up when you talk about dancing!”


Later that night, I reflected on what my coach had said. It made me realize what made me unique as a speaker.

I am a dancer. I’m Japanese. I’m a Japanese living in the United States.

It then got me thinking about the link between ballroom dancing and leadership.

Ballroom Latin dancing is a very interactive partnership between a leader and a follower, and there are countless leadership and communication lessons I could draw from my experience as a dancer.

Only I, can connect these dots.

Today, in my keynotes, I fully embrace the opportunity to dance during my speech; incorporating movements from dancing and draw upon the lessons we can learn from dancing with a partner.

This has become my speaking style.

It’s easy to separate what we are passionate about outside of the business world, and not allow it to come into our work as leaders. Yet this is the very thing that makes us unique.  It also makes us more interesting and memorable.

What passions do you have that you could draw upon whenever you’re giving a presentation or public speaking?

Talking about your passion could create invaluable content such as interesting stories, great humor and your ability to connect with your audience in new and exciting ways.


Book a 15-minute FREE consultation with me to help bring what you’re passionate about into any kind of business presentation.





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