Episode 123 -- Spoken Word and Public Speaking with Huwa

2-Minute Tip: Just put yourself out there


Getting past intense nerves can be challenging, but there comes a point where you just have to do it. Just acknowledge your nerves and stage fright and do it anyway. If things don’t go well, the world won’t end, and (for most of us) no one will die. So just get up on stage, nerves and all, and just do it.


How can you give yourself the best chance for success? It’s no secret — practice. Prepare and practice. The more you do that, the better you’ll be able to focus on what matters — the audience and the message.


Afterall, it’s not about you.


Post Tip Discussion: Meet Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa


“You know what’s great about hitting rock bottom? There’s only one way to go, and that’s up!”

— Buster Moon, Sing


Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa — or simply Huwa — is a Chemistry student, spoken word artist, and podcaster living in Nigeria. We live in an amazing time where technology let’s us have conversations like this across the world.


Spoken Word is a performance genre where poetry meets public speaking meets story telling. Rhythm and timing are critical to success. A lot of the lessons Huwa learned as she grew as a performer will likely resonate with other speakers today.


And I have to confess my own ignorance here, This is a genre I wasn’t really familiar with before this conversation. I love getting to learn stuff on the show.




Huwa selfie in a car

Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa, or just Huwa is a performance poet and podcaster from Nigeria, West Africa. She’s been speaking since she was eleven years old at debates and in church. She started performing as a spoken word artiste three years ago and realized how underrated it is as an art so she started up a podcast, called The Spoken World, inviting performance poets, authors and enthusiasts from around the world to share their stories as expressed in literary arts.


Recently, she’s learnt that the podcast can be so much more as it involves stories that reveal the culture, traditions and politics of individuals across the globe.




Huwa quoted the movie Sing in our conversation. It’s an animated film about animals performing in a singing competition. A lot of the stories are about dealing with nerves, being true to yourself, and getting out there to share your art.


Here’s the trailer:



The Danger of the Single Story


The Danger of the Single Story is the risk we have of falling into ignorance. In the context of our discussion, we touched on how many folks in the US and elsewhere have a limited perception of life in Africa. One narrative about the continent often dominates our perception.


Storytelling is a great way to connect with an audience. As an audience member its also important to seek out more stories from speakers and artists who have a different background. It’s not about creating an artificial debate between 2 view points — 2 or more viewpoints and be different without being in opposition to one another.


Even with my relative ignorance I think it’s safe to say that life in Nigeria is very different from life in Egypt or life in Lesotho. And it’s fair to say that life in Lagos is probably very different from life in Yola (and yes, I did have to pull up a map).


And that’s the danger of the single story or narrative. It makes it way too easy to make assumptions about a wide swath of the Earth and its people.


It’s not just about geopolitics and cultural diversity, though. As speakers, how many of us have gone into a company, or even a department within our own company, with a narrative in mind about the people there? What do you think you know about the internal culture of Amazon or Microsoft or Starbucks? These are organizations with tens of thousands of employees and contractors. The single story in our minds about organizations will impact how we prepare and speak with them, even though that story may only apply to a part of the group.


And even if it applies to most of the organization, is your audience within that organization the group that story applies to? And do you think the same story you have about a company as a whole applies equally to the legal department, the marketing department, and the C-Suite? Probably not.


And let’s talk about individuals. What is the single story you have about someone who’s had a stroke? Is it the 86 year old retiree in the nursing home? Or is it someone like Luke Perry or Sharon Stone? Or do you think about the freelance blogger and podcaster helping folks become more effective speakers in as little as 2 minutes a week?


Stories help us understand the world. They help us connect with one another and pass along history, values, lessons, inspiration and community. There’s nothing wrong with stories.


The danger is in letting a single story about our audience or millions and billions of people become the sole way we see that aspect of the world.


So seek out and listen to more stories.




When Huwa and I were setting up the interview, she also emailed me an MP3 of her pronouncing her full name ( Okoyomoh Egbekhuwa) for me. This was great because it gave me an opportunity to practice listen to the correct version again and again.


If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce — or than might be difficult for someone from a different culture to pronounce, consider send a recording of it in advance to whomever may be introducing you at an event.


And if you’re the person doing the introduction, make an effort to learn to pronounce what may be for you a challenging name. You want to get it right because names are so important and they tie into so much emotional stuff. Getting a person’s name right is a sign of respect. And so I hope I did well by Huwa’s name.




The Spoken World Website


The Spoken World on Twitter


Huwa on Instagram


Spoken Word on Wikipedia


Huwa’s Email Newsletter


Spoken World Podcast on RadioPublic


Spoken World Podcast on PocketCasts


Spoken World Podcast on Apple Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Google Podcasts


Spoken World Podcast on Spotify


Spoken World Podcast on CastBox


Spoken World Podcast on Overcast


Spoken World Podcast on Stitcher


Spoken World Podcast on Breaker


Spoken World Podcast on Podbean


Kerri Ruttenberg on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Denise Vaughan on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Hilary Billings on 2-Minute Talk Tips


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 1)


Tim Garber on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Part 2)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Running a Panel)


Jon Clarke on 2-Minute Talk Tips (Comedy, Advertising, and rock)



Call to Action


  • Check out the links to Huwa’s podcast and Instagram above.
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2-Minute Talk Tips is the public speaking podcast that help you become a more effective speaker in as little as 2 minutes a week.

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