Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Grace Enriquez

Second Advisor

Jo Ann Gammel

Third Advisor

Mollie Blackburn


People throughout the centuries have used public presentation to effect social change. This qualitative case study was designed to explore the various ways that self-awareness affects high-profile presenters committed to effecting social change. Through prespecified criterion sampling, three presenters—Kate Bornstein, X González, and Judy Shepard—were selected and agreed to participate in this study. The primary approach to data collection was in-depth, semi-structured interviews. A document review (print and media) was conducted as a second approach to data collection. Using transcriptions of the interviews and texts from the document review, two rounds of coding were completed. The initial round of coding focused on themes that emerged from the data; the second round of coding included a multi-tiered system that supported individual and cross-case analysis of the types of strategies presenters used and where in the presenters’ processes strategies were implemented. Analysis and interpretation of findings were organized by three guiding research questions: (a) In what ways do highly effective presenters who are committed to effecting social change experience self-awareness strategies in their process of preparing and presenting information to audiences? (b) Which of those self-awareness strategies are perceived as most empowering and impactful to the presenter’s experience and why? (c) In what ways do presenters discover and maintain the self-awareness strategies that they utilize? This research revealed that all three participants reported experiences related to self-talk, visualization, and embodied knowing. Embodied knowing emerged as a recognized self-awareness strategy for all three participants and was utilized in all aspects of preparing and presenting. The study also showed that presenters do what works best for them, as individuals; they honor their own process and recognize that their own approach may look very different from another person’s process. To publicly present for the purpose of effecting social change, creating an authentic, vulnerable, and connected experience with one’s audience is essential. The findings from this study suggest that a model that empowers the individual to be an active agent in discovering the path for learning and practice is essential when teaching, training, or coaching in the field of public presentation.



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