Clemson University’s 15th Annual Women in Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nekita Sullivan Owner of Yoga Therapy Bar

A photo of Dr. Nekita Sullivan, owner of Yoga Therapy Bar
Dr. Nekita Sullivan
March 18, 2022
Clemson University’s 15th Annual Women in Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nekita Sullivan Owner of Yoga Therapy Bar

Clemson University’s 15th Annual Women in Leadership Conference Keynote Speaker: Dr. Nekita Sullivan Owner of Yoga Therapy Bar

My mother enrolled me in public speaking lessons when I was a child at the age of 6. I still remember going to my speech coach’s home to practice. I also remember performing these speeches at church as a little girl. I can vaguely remember my grandfather who is now deceased being able to attend one of my speeches. My parents told me after I finished that speech my grandfather said that there was something special about me. Public speaking has not been what I would consider to be one of my strengths. It has always been a scary and stressful experience for me in the past.

I was completely shocked to receive an email in the winter of 2022 inviting me to be the keynote speaker for Clemson University's 15th annual Women in Leadership Conference. I must say I was skeptical when I read the email.  I could not fathom why they had selected me when they could have chosen so many other extraordinary women whose accomplishments far outweighed mine. I asked the conference coordinator why they chose me as the keynote speaker. She said that due to my ability as a new small business owner to pivot and sustain my business during the pandemic that my name landed at the top of their list. I accepted the invitation.  I was terrified! I had not completed a formal speech of this magnitude. I am so grateful that within a week of accepting the invitation to be the keynote speaker, God gave me the topic and foundation for my speech. I began writing. It was so important for me to compose a speech that was not boring. I have attended so many conferences with bland speakers. It was my desire to make this speech flavorful. I took it upon myself to add meat, potatoes, exotic spices, seasonings, vegetables, fruit, and dessert to this speech. One of my other challenges was that this speech was to be given during the conference luncheon which must fulfill 1 hour. However, after I finished writing my speech and began rehearsing, I realized that I met the time requirement. Next, I started gathering all my props which included 6 pairs of shoes, a flashlight, glasses, and a basketball. I did not want this to be a boring speech. I wanted it to be interactive. I didn't want it to be a lecture. The visual graphics in my presentation also added flavor for interest, attractiveness, and excitement. I continued rehearsing my speech daily.

It was now time to give the speech. I must say I did not sleep well for two days leading up to it. Then of course you know women must have the perfect outfit and hairstyle coordinated nicely. This conference was to resume since the pandemic in a hybrid fashion so it would be in person and livestreamed. I was able to invite my family, friends, and colleagues. The conference committee did a great job of making my keynote speech experience comfortable. They welcomed me and made it a pleasant experience. It was time for my speech. I stood at the podium speaking and looking in the audience at all of the interesting faces.  The conference theme was "redefining." My keynote speech title was "Be Ready to Change Your Shoes." I spoke about pivoting and transforming into all of the roles that women have to fulfill in order to be successful leaders. My final statement to the Clemson University conference attendees: "my challenge to you extraordinary women is to go out every single day and let your beautiful orange and purple light lead, redefine, and shine." I completed the speech and welcomed questions and comments. One of the conference attendees thanked me for being very transparent and sharing such private and sensitive information. The most unexpected response was two conference attendees came to me individually after the speech in tears. They thanked me for sharing my personal and spiritual struggles during my small business pivot. They also shared that they were also experiencing their own personal spiritual struggles at the time.

It seems that my professional career has turned to an unexpected path of public speaking. I'm not sure how it's going to proceed. However, I am thankful to be able to share my experiences and hopefully help someone else in some way with my flavorful approach to public speaking. I feel that I am not off to my best start.  However, I am off to a good start! I am glad that I am NOT YOUR AVERAGE PUBLIC SPEAKER. #womeninleadership#publicspeaker #flavorfulspeaker #IamNotYourAveragePublicSpeaker

Nekita Sullivan, CHES, PT, CHT, DPT, CYT, YACEP