Why the DIVA technique is the key to being the best public speaker...

Shola Kaye - author / award-winning speaker, and communication expert - is here to teach us how to be a public speaking DIVA.

By Sharmadean Reid

31 January 2026

This article is one in a series covering The Stack’s Spring Business Summit. Take your business to the next level with the help and advice of our business experts.


ublic speaking isn’t a cakewalk. When you’re standing in front of everyone, the lights blaring down on you, it’s all too easy to lose confidence and trip over your words. If you’ve been there, just remember you’re not the first person and you won’t be the last.

But overcoming this challenge is the best course of action as public speaking skills can help us excel. From investor pitches to general day-to-day communication, it can change your life. As women in business, we already face more hardships. Just getting into the room is a battle; you want to ensure when you get there, you’re well-equipped for what’s to come.

Shola Kaye - author, award-winning speaker, and communication expert - recently joined us to give her advice on being the perfect public speaker. She believes we can all be public speaking DIVAs - and why not? Why shouldn’t we be able to boost our business potential and open new windows of opportunity?

DIVA is all about being Dynamic, Inspiring, Valuable, and Authentic.

‘As women in business, we already face more hardships. Just getting into the room is a battle; you want to ensure when you get there, you’re well-equipped for what’s to come.’

Being dynamic is about giving life to the words, not just letting them fall out your mouth. If you have a tendency to over-rehearse, you could be robbing your speech of its dynamism. Don’t let the thought of getting it right take over your mind, leaving you standing at the podium like a statue. Take some of that energy to move around the stage. Change the way you speak, adding emphasis to the most powerful words. Let your passion flow through your body. It adds a visual element; a new dimension that livens up your performance and engages your audience.

Always be inspiring. For this, Shola recommends the “now-then-how” structure. Tell your audience where you are now. What’s your story? Are you running two businesses while raising a child? Are you young, ambitious, and ahead of your peers. You have an inspiring story, so tell it. Then take it back to the past; when was it not always so great for you? Open up about the struggles you faced. Without this part, you miss that vital sense of vulnerability. It’s the difference between confidence and cockiness.

The “then” is your pathway to being relatable and bringing the audience onto your side. The “how” is the bridge between the two. How did past you get to where you are today? People love a human story. It shows that you’re more than a business - you’re a human with goals and ambitions. In short, you’re an inspiration.

‘Change the way you speak, adding emphasis to the most powerful words. Let your passion flow through your body.’

Being valuable is all about organisation and structure. It’s partly about showing why you’re valuable to the other person, but also that you value them and their time. Creating a structured flow to your speech keeps you from running on tangents and losing your point.

Shona recommends the PEEEP structure: point, example, example, example, point. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re trying to get new customers at your salon. You make your point - “you should come to my salon tomorrow” - then you give examples to back up your point. “It’s affordable, it’s a great atmosphere, and all our customers say it’s the best salon they’ve ever been to”. Then at the end, you reiterate the point. “And that’s why you should come to my salon tomorrow”. You ensure your point is always at the forefront of your listeners’ minds.

As an extra tip, it’s always a good idea to “signpost”. This means you explicitly say, “I’m going to give you three reasons why…” before you start listing them. It might seem too on the nose, but it keeps the listener focused - they know this is something they’re going to want to hear. And it tells them they won’t be there as you list a dozen points to them. It keeps it concise, organised, and valuable.

Finally, you want to stay authentic. It’s all too easy to slip into a version of ourselves we believe others want us to be. But that isn’t you; it doesn’t serve you. Audiences can sense when you’re trying to be something you’re not. But worse still, you feel it too. It’s hard to be confident when you aren’t being your authentic self. And it’s hard to speak when you don’t feel confident. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

If you’re still struggling with confidence, here’s one final exercise that might help. Start by writing down some negative thoughts you have about yourself when it comes to public speaking. You might be self-conscious of the clarity of your points, or your enunciation and room presence. Now take those negatives and turn them around. You don’t think you’re clear enough, but you’re getting better. You worry you’re too quiet, but you’re practicing by filming yourself.

Our negatives are weights around our neck, but we don’t have to let them be. Power and confidence come from how well you know yourself. You know you and you know your value. Being confident helps us get you through challenges.

The Short Stack

No one is born a natural public speaker; it’s a skill you need to hone and work at. By being dynamic, inspiring, valuable, and authentic, you can improve your skills and become the public speaking DIVA you know you can be.

By Sharmadean Reid

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