March 2023, Articles

Inaugural Women in High Performance Sport alumni workshop a success

Women across the HPSNZ Women in High Performance Sport (WHPS) network came together for the first time at an alumni workshop entitled ‘Creating Presence’.

WHPS lead, Helene Wilson, and external facilitators Maggie Eyre and Allie Webby, were joined by eight women from across the range of HPSNZ women’s initiatives – WHPS Residency Experience, Te Hāpaitanga and Te Hāpaitanga Satellite Group – for the two-day workshop which focused on presentation skills or, as Helene describes it, “helping people shine on ‘their’ stage.”

Women who had engaged with HPSNZ initiatives from across the high performance sector were invited to submit an expression of interest to join the alumni workshop.

Helene says it was tough selecting the eight women to join the inaugural workshop with strong interest for the bespoke programme.  “We were excited to connect a range of coaches representing seven sports together to learn from a new angle the many facets of skillful communication.

“The philosophy behind the alumni programme is to provide alternative opportunities for women to connect in a meaningful way,” says Helene.  “This particular workshop recognised and focused on the need for our leading women to be able to articulate their messages skillfully, have a presence that projects confidence to various audiences and how to lean into the strengths they bring to their role in high performance sport.”

Workshop participants completed a wide range of activities over the two days, from how to use eye contact, pausing, gestures and other fundamental presentation skills, to preparing a victory speech – selling what they’ve done – and creating a business presentation for a board, CEO or their management team.

Feedback from the first day reflected a level of nervousness at speaking and being filmed. “A number of participants commented that some of the sessions on day one put them outside their comfort zone including practical ‘theatre-sport’ type activities, however the professionalism of the external facilitators helped them shift their ability as storytellers,” says Helene.

Day two featured their business presentations and Helene says there were any number of great quotes which sum up the group’s experience.  “There are a couple that particularly stood out for me,” says Helene.  “You’re not born a winner, you’re not born a loser – you’re born a chooser; thank you for teaching me how to pause – I’ve never done that in my life; and it’s time to wipe the dust off the shelves with some new ideas.”

Helene sums up the participant feedback with a number of reflections that will help shape future alumni workshops.

“Some common themes were that the workshop provided a safe space, one which enabled them to step towards what challenges them, make mistakes, and grow without being disempowered.  The direct and constant feedback from facilitators and peers alike had a massive impact in a short time and, the biggest learning for all, was accepting the positive feedback received regarding the authenticity they bring with their own presence.”

HPSNZ will hold a second WHPS event in the second half of the year so keep your eyes open for the request for expressions of interest.