Last month, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) shared an opportunity to volunteer in the construction industry. NAWIC is a fantastic organization—of which Liz Romo is a proud member—that has a multitude of resources in industry, publication, education, networking, public service, and professional development, all dedicated to promoting women in the construction industry. Liz joined because she was impressed in its scope and mission. “Research shows that women represent only 8% of the construction industry, so for me, joining NAWIC was a no brainer, because it offers so many opportunities to be around, work with, and learn from other women in the construction industry; WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN.”
Cory E. Thomas-Fisk is a professor at Consumnes River College for a Construction Management Technology course and conducts a “Teachers & Topics” session every Wednesday. She is also the proprietor of her own full-service, general engineering contractor construction company. (NAWIC membership points –check). Mrs. Thomas-Fisk invites anyone in the construction industry to speak about his or her role and respective company.
Naturally, when Liz saw the post on her LinkedIn feed to present in the classroom, she jumped at the chance. “I took that opportunity to practice my speaking skills, present, and spread awareness on Construction Partnering. I created a slideshow for the class with the best and most informative short videos. ”
*Sidebar: an old adage exists about how to do perfect pitch deck presentations. One of the tips is “No Demo Videos.” Why? Something can always go wrong—audio fails, someone on a conference call can’t hear, the WiFi goes down. Do you watch people as they watch your video (awkward), or do you watch your computer and take a break as the video plays (while everyone follows suit and does the same and becomes bored)? “But no,” one thinks. “These videos are different, because they’re pertinent to my presentation, you see.” *
Well…. woman plans, and the telecommunications Gods laugh. The first twenty minutes, Liz had nothing but technical difficulties. Sadly, no one got to see her bespoke videos. Instead, she improvised. “I ended up talking the entire time rather than showing short clips, as I had planned. It turned out to be a great presentation because everyone was engaged and had a lot of great questions. “ The class and professor were patient and understanding. This goes to show that flexibility is key in any setting—classroom or boardroom.
Public speaking is not an easy feat unto itself. Not only is it physically and mentally draining, one has to have command of elocution and extemporaneous speaking. It is especially difficult in an educational milieu, because one doesn’t want to disappoint the students—there is an elevated expectation of expertise. Liz wanted to enhance the students’ knowledge in alternative dispute resolution to construction projects through partnership and collaboration. “Not only was it an opportunity to bring awareness to Construction Partnering, but I learned so much from the Professor and students as well!”
Thomas-Fisk shared her thoughts on Liz’s guest presentation: “The passion that Liz brought to the class presentation was CONTAGIOUS… so much so in fact, that even after her thorough and focused clarity explanation of Partnering, that at the conclusion of her presentation, the students were inspired to share a communicative experience that expressed graciousness, love, respect, and patience for each other discussing current events. Many students indicated it was the most vulnerable, heartfelt, and in-depth discussion that they have had since the shut down and closure of class on campus. I am internally grateful for Ms. Romo’s impact on my students!!!”
Mission Accomplished! Liz is grateful to have had this opportunity and experience to interact with the local construction community. She would gladly do it again and encourages anyone reticent to go for it. The challenges of public speaking in the virtual classroom were offset by the reward of giving back to the future female leaders in construction. Until then… she’ll stick to screenshots.