Group empowers public speaking
ACC-RI Contract Specialist and ITC President Michael DeBisschop (at podium) speaks with ITC member Steve Slininger, an ITC member from Joint Munitions Command, during the Sept. 11 meeting. (Photo by Liz Adrian)

Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. - Communication skills are essential for successful contracting professionals and a few Army Contracting Command-Rock Island employees are actively engaged in exercising their public speaking abilities at monthly International Training in Communication meetings.

The Arsenal Island ITC, which is also known as POWERtalk International, is a business-oriented public speaking group that is available to all organizations on Rock Island Arsenal. Employees from ACC-RI currently comprise the bulk of ITC participants and hold four out of the five officer roles. Recently appointed ITC officers are Michael DeBisschop, president; Angela Quinn, vice president; Bridget Purdy, secretary; and Andrea Lovell, parliamentarian.

The group meets between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. The meetings are considered training. Since it is considered training, ACC-RI will consider paying fees associated with the training and providing participants continuous learning points.

All meetings feature an overall theme -- the theme of the most recent meeting held on Sept. 11 was: "From small beginnings come great things." During the meeting, an evaluator took notes and all portions of the meeting were timed; the evaluator shared thoughts on each portion of the meeting before it adjourned.

"I think that had the ITC not been available to me, I would not be practicing public speaking on a regular basis," said Quinn. "This opportunity is wonderful and is helping me get even more comfortable with the idea of speaking in front of people for any purpose -- work, personal, anything."

DeBisschop believes there are many benefits to the group, including building communication skills necessary to move into leadership roles within ACC-RI, networking with people in other commands on the arsenal, and applying skills to civic organizations in the local community.

He also said that both introverts and extroverts can find benefits by attending meetings.

"I think people, such as myself, who are quick to give opinions can overshadow the ability of other people to contribute," said DeBisschop. "It teaches me to be more controlled and to help bring people into conversations. For those people who are more likely to sit back and allow other people to speak, this is a place where people gain the confidence to speak up and contribute and bring a different perspective to work functions."

One benefit that goes beyond public speaking skills is increasing individuals' workplace flexibility. For example, one of the ITC officials was unable to attend the Sept. 11 meeting, resulting in Quinn performing additional tasks.

"During the workday, there is an idea on how things are going to go, but at the last minute, due to work constraints, the schedule changes so we need to be very flexible and adapt," said DeBisschop. "As Angie demonstrated by taking on multiple roles that weren't assigned to her previous to the meeting, it really increases our ability to adapt."

As newly installed officers, DeBisschop and Quinn hope that more people from ACC-RI will join the ITC. Currently there are 11 members but the ITC can have up to 30 members.

"I want the reputation to be that it this group is a definite benefit for people who have issues with public speaking, interviews, speaking up at team meetings, speaking up in high-visibility meetings, and even speaking up at the town hall," said Quinn. "I want people to hear about the ITC, show an interest in the group, become a part of it and participate in it regularly."

Page last updated Tue September 25th, 2012 at 00:00