Sara Krisher Shares with the Valbridge Women’s Council

by Rachel L. Richardson

Launching the VWC Public Speaking Class

This spring, we announced a new Valbridge Women’s Council president, Jennifer Benton, and we highlighted several of her new initiatives—including the launch of the VWC Public Speaking Class.

Since then, Benton and the VWC vice president, Jennifer Dewberry, have sorted through the finer points of the class’ mission, members, and composition. Benton and Dewberry have also secured a public speaking coach for the class participants.

Sara Krisher is the owner of Stand Tall, a confidence-building company dedicated to equipping and empowering people to speak and to share—whether for an audience of a few colleagues or hundreds of strangers.

Describing her passion for her work, Krisher points to the line in Dead Poets Society (1989) spoken by Robin Williams’ character:

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

If you’re interested in Cycle 2 of the Public Speaking Class, please fill out the nomination form.


  • The VWC is launching a class dedicated to giving people the tools they need to be confident and take on public speaking engagements.
  • Sara Krisher is the owner of a confidence-building company and will be leading the training sessions that will begin this fall.
  • The class is open to current and new VWC women members, and all who are interested are invited to apply.
  • Valbridge employees and VWC members are also invited to nominate those in the company who they believe would be a great fit for the program.

“This is something that really resonates with me,” Krisher shared with the VWC members in July. “Words and ideas can change the world. And if we’re not sharing those words and ideas, then the world loses out.”

Krisher has over 20 years of experience in presenting to businesses of all sizes, including Fortune 500 companies. Author of Confidence to Speak and Captivate Your Audience, Krisher is an international speaker, narrative coach, and developer of the “Fearless Speaker” program.


Benton is passionate about the class, and its mission to empower women to speak.

“The whole objective of this program is to take you from where you are right now and to get you to booking your first speaking engagement,” she says. “That is the end goal.”

“One of the reasons I was so excited about this idea,” Benton adds, “is we always talk about the lack of diversity in the commercial appraisal industry. And I think if more women were out at these [commercial real estate and appraisal] conferences and sitting on these panels—speaking—it would invite more women into the industry or at least pique their interest.”

To add this diversity of thought will benefit the industry, Benton says, since these perspectives can result in valuable insights and improved collaboration among colleagues.


This first VWC Public Speaking Class group is open to all female members of the VWC, and membership in the VWC is free and open to all Valbridge employees.

“This is not just for appraisers,” Benton adds. “This is for all women because we all have something to contribute no matter what your role is within Valbridge.”

As far as experience level, Krisher says: “This is for anyone. Whether you’re experienced or not, whether you’ve spoken a lot or not, whether you fear it or you love it, you will learn something… Wherever you are in the journey, you’re going to pick up what you need to make it to that next level.”


The class will involve one-hour, virtual sessions that are interactive and fun, says Krisher. “I don’t believe that you learn as fast if it’s not fun,” she says, “so fun has to be a part of it.”

Limited to a small group of participants, the sessions will involve personalized attention and training. Current and new VWC members who are interested in participating will complete a brief application. Members can either self-nominate or nominate a colleague for the chance to join the class sessions this year.


Sessions are slated to begin this September, with one session per month for the next six months. While this inaugural class will wrap up in early 2024, Benton hopes this will become an event that recurs annually, successively inspiring new classes of VWC members through the years.

Say ‘Yes’ to Speaking

For Krisher herself, the passion to empower people to speak rose out of her own experiences. An introvert and a middle child, Krisher says she was used to listening and observing—not speaking up from the front of the room.

Krisher started her career in interior design, a field she had viewed at the time as being less public-facing. She soon found out that was an incorrect assumption, when she was in a meeting with a client and her supervisor turned to her and said: “Okay, Sara, present your design.”

“And from there, things got fuzzy,” Sara recalls. “I don’t remember what happened. And I laugh at myself now, but at the time it was really terrifying. And I walked away sick to my stomach, and I felt like, I’ve got to get better at this.”

And she did.

“Now I really do enjoy speaking,” she says. Krisher carries this joy into her business and the sessions through which she helps people develop the same ease of speaking she has now. “

When it comes to public speaking, Krisher notes, “there are three real reasons that keep people from saying ‘yes’ to going to the front of the room: They don’t feel confident. They don’t know what to say. And they don’t know what to do.”


Krisher has a vast repository for confidence-building techniques, and she shared one of her favorites with the VWC. It has to do with a perspective shift.

When faced with the prospect of public speaking, many of us experience the fight or flight response which presents as an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and so on. These experiences can, however, be an exhilaration response rather than one of stress or anxiety, Krisher says.

“Exhilaration and fear are read by our brain in the same way,” she adds, so this experience can be a pivotal moment for introspection, she says. Ask yourself: “Am I really fearing this, or is this something that’s really exhilarating for me?”

If it is truly a fear reaction, Krisher encourages us to embrace it and realize that this fear indicates the act of speaking is important and intriguing to us.

“If you didn’t fear it,” she says, “you probably wouldn’t have any interest in it.”

Another key element of confidence, Krisher says, is to realize you don’t have to be an expert on every aspect of what you are presenting.

“You don’t have to know everything about everything,” she notes. “You just have to know everything about that speech that you create.”


When it comes to the speech itself, Krisher suggests working in a framework to keep you on track, saying as much as you need to on the topic, but not so much that your message gets muddled. To do this, she suggests using a framework with seven c’s. Having a “critical point” is the first of the c’s and refers to the one main idea you wish your audience to recall.

Many people have an idea of what they want to share, and simply need to refine its presentation, she says. For those who are unsure of their message, Krisher works with them to discover it.


The third main obstacle to public speaking is not knowing what to do with your hands while speaking or knowing where to look and when. So we end up fidgeting, swaying, or maybe even staring at the floor.

Krisher believes we overcome this when we are comfortable, confident, and feel like ourselves while presenting.

“That’s why I put so much emphasis on the confidence-building,” she says. “It’s really about accepting self for all your flaws, all your mistakes—all your personality, and your fun, and your funniness—and really inviting your whole self to the stage.”

When we can do this, Krisher shares, we connect with the audience and have the sense that it is a conversation.

“And that’s what I want for everyone—” she adds “—to feel like this is not that different than what you do daily.”

If you are a current VWC member, or are interested in becoming one, and would like to participate in the Public Speaking Class, reach out to Benton at

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