Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Hennessey.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Sure! It’s fun to look back and see how my many early career paths unfolded, knowing that there were times I felt really confused or scared about the next steps. But I always eventually landed on my feet with some clarity about where to go next. I’ve now been a public speaking coach for over a decade and the skills I developed and experiences I had leading up to that help inform all that I do now.
I grew up in New England, a shy lanky creative kid. I was really drawn to acting and writing in college. I loved the opportunity to be mischievous with my humor and expressive with my emotions. Digging deep to understand human behavior for my acting and writing (we are a complex lot!) was also super compelling to me.
After graduating, I decided to pursue acting (love this term, it’s like “I’m going to catch you, acting!”). I knew that if I was really serious about this craft, I would need training and so I packed up my worldly possessions and moved to NYC. I worked at a bunch of different jobs to support myself –and got my MFA in Acting at the Actors Studio program.
Then I changed gears. I moved to Boston to be closer to family, which were facing some challenging times. By night I was part of Essayons Theatre Company, a new company that created and produced its own plays (essayons means “let’s try” in French). By day, I worked at an Internet start-up. And while acting and writing in Essayons, I fell for and married Art Hennessey (the head writer in the company and one of the founders).
Art has an entrepreneurial spirit, which I absolutely love and I’ve totally adopted. Fast forward a number of years. Art and I embarked on another “let’s try” venture – teaching acting classes. It was so exciting to be paid for something we loved doing! All these years later we are still teaching this fun craft to people – aspiring actors, doctors, students, entrepreneurs, athletes, teachers, you name it! Since April of 2020, our classes have been virtual, which means we’ve had a farther reach including a few students tuning in to class from Saudi Arabia and Mexico! (For class info: www.bostonactingclasses.com)
Now let’s rewind. We had been teaching acting for over 5 years, I was also teaching acting at Boston University’s Film and TV Department. A woman in my community who knew I taught acting classes asked me if I could help her with a work presentation that she was really nervous about. I love new challenges, so I said yes! This simple request opened up a whole new career trajectory for me.
I found I could apply all I knew about stage presence, creating a memorable and engaging performance, dealing with stage fright, writing, and rehearsing to public speaking. Plus, I had worked in a variety of work environments to support my creative life, so I understood the cultures of the corporate, start-up, and non-profit worlds. I started offering public speaking coaching and workshops and as momentum grew, I launched Boston Public Speaking. Working with everyone from executives – to T.V Chefs – to a woman who climbed Mount Everest has been incredibly interesting. Helping others to make an impact in their fields is extremely satisfying. Providing public speaking workshops for teams within companies has also been a blast.
San Diego Public Speaking was born more recently. In the bleak New England winter of 2014, I went West on a mission to find a sunny West Coast base where I could expand my businesses. San Diego’s industries, landscape, people, and WEATHER checked all of my boxes. I kept going for longer and longer stays, building my network through AirBnB rentals, and via the North San Diego Business Chamber and FEMX Quarters.
I wanted to share all I’ve learned, so I wrote Your Guide to Public Speaking (published in May of 2019). I cover how to rise above insecurities, how to stay present under pressure, and how to create performances that hook audiences and make a difference. The book is chock full of real-life client stories, super-practical strategies, and humor is sprinkled throughout.
I also created the Building Confidence podcast. As the host, I interview guests from a variety of backgrounds about what confidence is and how to build it after setbacks and trauma. In recent years, my friend and colleague, Alexandra Sullivan and I saw that there was a lack of training around speaking to the press, so we launched Leap Media Training in 2020. Our goal is to help people be more strategic and have more ease when communicating with the media. (www.leapmediatraining.com)
Going forward, I’m excited to be bi-coastal with San Diego as my base! And I’m also super enthusiastic about the new group coaching program for public speaking I’ll be launching this fall!
Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Honestly, it’s been both. Over time, I’ve learned to trust my instincts more and overthink less. My love for adventure has served me well, as I’ve taken risks and tried new ventures that sometimes succeed!(And…… sometimes don’t.)
It’s incredibly helpful to look back and see that what felt like really low points were actually powerful and positive turning points. There was a season that I started struggling with stage fright, which led me to delve into my mindset, unconscious beliefs, trauma, and healing. I use all of the strategies and wisdom that I learned during that difficult period in so much of my work with clients.
I’ve needed to develop a strong entrepreneurial mindset. My parents had more traditional career paths and my lifestyle of having a lot of career balls in the air never quite sat right with them. I tried to explain that it was wise to have a diverse portfolio of ventures because if one didn’t work out, there were always others to rely on!
I do love that whatever I learn from a particular challenge typically ends up being helpful for my clients.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I help innovators and visionaries to speak with power and ease so they can change the rooms or zooms they are in without self-doubt or losing precious sleep.
Through one-on-one coaching and customized corporate workshops, I help these game-changers experience public speaking as an adventure with exciting risks, discoveries, and massive rewards rather than as a horror movie with terror, hiding, and dread.
I have coached a wide variety of individuals who are making waves in their industries – scientists, entrepreneurs, executives, activists, doctors, chefs, lawyers, artists, a top dog trainer, and also a mountaineer who completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam (think Everest, the Poles, and more!)
Also, through Leap Media Training my Co-Founder Alexandra Sullivan and I offer training to help people speak more confidently to the press. And my husband Art and I teach acting to adults.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
At this point in my life, success is having a lifestyle that I love, a lifestyle that sustains me. I’ve been willing to work really hard for my goals and at times this has meant getting burnt out and strung out. I’m still ambitious in terms of taking on new challenges in my career and helping more people be free from fear, but I’m also committed to having fun adventures, taking care of my fitness and health, and having regular downtime to JUST BE.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.sandiegopublicspeaking.com
- Instagram: @amandaghennessey
- Facebook: @bostonpublicspeaking
- Other: www.bostonactingclasses.com
Molly Hamill Angela Garzon Jessie Medina Art Hennessey