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Transforming Education and Professional Development through "Within Our Ranks"

education consultant educational leadership educational leadership programs keynote speaker leaders in education leadership coaching leadership for educational equity leadership styles in education mission motivational speaker professional development public speaking reflection stand tall steve steve bollar values vision within our ranks Jan 28, 2024

Greetings, gang! We're delving into the dynamic and often misunderstood world of educational speaking. I'm thrilled to share insights into how speakers can revolutionize education and professional development, especially through programs like Within Our Ranks

This is an extraordinary episode of the “Stand Tall Leadership” show, as Meg and I are together to record for the first time ever! Usually, I am in New Jersey, and she is in Wyoming.  But in this recording, we are in the same space and living the Within Our Ranks model for success.  You have to check it out.


My Journey to Educational Speaking

I started as a school administrator, conducting training and presentations for my staff. The turning point came when I attended a Jostens Renaissance conference and witnessed an engaging professional speaker in action. That was the moment I realized, "I can do that!" A conversation with the speaker guided me to the National Speakers Association (NSA), opening the doors to a world I never knew existed. Y’all, my first paid speaking gig was at my father’s high school.  I was so serious, I charged $50. 

Fast forward to today, I am passionate about "Within Our Ranks," a program dedicated to training educators who aspire to speak professionally. The focus is on leveraging the experience, knowledge, and understanding of educators to enhance the field of education. In general, the bar for education professional development is so low.  SO LOW! Within Our Ranks raises the bar and prepares you for a successful career outside the classroom. 


The Reality of Educational Speaking

The world of educational speaking is unlike any other. It's not all glitz and glamour, especially in the K-12 space. Often, speakers in education need more preparation, leaving educators hoping for meaningful takeaways from sessions.  Sometimes, speakers hired for professional development should have the magic three skills of experience, content knowledge, and entertaining engagement within their sessions. But they rarely ever give all three. It’s not their fault; they haven’t received training otherwise.

Ultimately, you grow through your mistakes. Grow and glow, crew! This recent experience made me ponder what indeed goes through educators' minds during professional development days.


The Top 10 Tips for Success in Educational Speaking

  1.  Have a Growth Mindset
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your professional speaking career.
  • You need to accept that there will be growth through mistakes.  
  • The power of YET! 
  • Recommended reading: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, PhD

  1.  Captivating Openers
  • Avoid generic openings. 
  • Capture attention with a compelling story, question, fact, or statement that resonates with your audience. 
  • People in education are a touch audience!
  • Don’t believe me? Check this out. Your entrance and opening set the tone for the rest of your session with your attendees. 

  1. Engaging Slides
  • Use visually appealing slides with readable text and impactful images. 
  • Be sure to consider font colors, styles, sizes, and images used.  
  • There are incredible templates to make your presentations come to life with Canva. Check out the AI features and templates to save time!
  • There are other sites for templates! Be sure to check out Slides Carnival and Slides Mania for ways to revive your content.  
  • One of my favorite sites for educators is Pexels. You can download and upload free content. Bring your presentations to life! 
  • Make sure your slides are free of grammar or spelling errors. The English teachers will tune you out for the rest of your presentation.

  1. Storytelling Mastery
  • Weave stories into your content. 
  • Stories are currencies of life. 
  • Stories create emotional connections and leave a lasting impact on your audience. 
  • It makes you relatable outside of this moment. 


  1. Clear Articulation
  • A well-rehearsed speaker avoids stumbling and keeps the flow seamless.
  • Practice your speech until it becomes second nature. 
  • Share your story in front of every audience you can! Practice with your family, coworkers, congregation, classrooms, and even your pets! Practice increases your memory and comfort in different settings.  
  • Print it out with an obnoxiously large font to practice anytime and anywhere. 


  1. Strategic Timing
  • Master the art of timing. 
  • Allow pauses for audience processing and emphasize critical points with deliberate tempo changes.
  • Pitch changes entertain and keep the audience engaged. 
  • Repeat important information.


  1. Purposeful Movement
  • Be intentional with your physical presence. 
  • Block your movements around the stage in general.  Know your space.
  • Move purposefully, ensuring your movements complement your message.


  1. Problem-Solving Approach
  • Approach speaking engagements as an opportunity to solve problems for your audience.
  • Address their challenges and provide valuable solutions. Turn their concerns into actionable items.
  • Administrators love data. Give them the data to prove these solutions work! 


  1. Gather Feedback and Testimonials
  • Collect the data before the conclusion of your speech.
  • Google Forms are an easy way to gather feedback. 
  • Record a short video to share on your website or social media! 
  • Talkadot is one of my favorite ways to collect testimonials.  It is easy for you and the participants to share their thoughts.  

“Mindblowing! Within Our Ranks, Steve Bollar is an outstanding, innovative, engaging and passionate presenter. He inspired me to take risks, embrace authenticity and use my voice. This was the best professional and personal experience I’ve had ever in the world of Education. This weekend gave me the vision that I needed to recognize my purpose and go for it! His ability to offer his knowledge and generosity was unique and much appreciated. Not only did I learn a ton but I had fun doing it!”


  1. Get a Table
  • For every speaking engagement possible, get a table after your speech. 
  • Invite engagement with your participants and decision-makers. 
  • Collect email addresses. Take pictures. Kiss babies! 
  • Find out who is making the hiring decisions, and be sure to connect with them.  

Transforming Education through "Within Our Ranks"

Within Our Ranks is a game-changer in educational speaking. Imparting knowledge and skills empowers educators to share their expertise effectively. The program is a catalyst for transforming education, ensuring that professional development is engaging, relevant, and impactful.

The Retreat Summit Experience

I recently conducted a retreat summit, bringing together educators nationwide. The experience was powerful and empowering, with educators gaining clarity on their messages, refining their brands, and creating actionable plans for their speaking journeys.

Every Journey Starts with a Spark

Participants can continue the program with online coaching and cohort connection within Our Ranks. The journey continues. WOR is an ongoing initiative, with the next event scheduled for the last weekend in June. If you're an educator or administrator with ten years or more of experience in K-12 education and a passion for transforming education, Within Our Ranks is the spark you need to ignite your speaking journey.

Educational speaking is not just about delivering content; it's about making an impact. Through Within Our Ranks and the modules for success, educators can elevate their speaking skills and contribute to a more vibrant and engaging educational landscape.

If you're ready to embark on this transformative journey, visit and start your adventure in professional educational speaking. Remember, education is not just about what you teach; it's about how you make others feel. When you Stand Tall, you don’t Think Small.

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