June 7, 2015 fm

How To Flourish PERMAnently

Yesterday, I attended a great inspiring event – the AWE Summit in Barcelona. AWE stands for assertive women entrepreneurs. I can tell you one thing: When you’re in a room with 50 strong, independent women and you’re one of three guys, you feel female power!

In a TED-style format with speeches of less than 20 minutes I listened to nine inspiring talks. One of them caught my special attention because I saw a bridge between the content and public speaking.

Dr. Jill Ann Jenkins is a clinical child and school psychologist with 25 years of experience working with children, teens, families, and schools on all types of issues, from the most severe psychiatric conditions, to the most common day-to-day problems. She has worked in outreach clinics, inpatient psychiatric centers, day treatment programs, and schools, in New York, London and, now with a private practice, in Barcelona.

Dr. Jenkins gave a great talk about the re-definition of success. She based her opinion on more than two decades of research of Marty Seligman, an American psychologist, educator, and author of self-help books.

Seligman is the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology and in his latest book, Flourish, Seligman articulated an account of how he measures well-being, and titled this work, “Well-Being Theory”. He concludes that there are five elements to “well-being”, which fall under the acronym of PERMA:

  • Positive emotion — Can only be assessed subjectively
  • Engagement — Like positive emotion, can only be measured through subjective means. It is presence of a flow state
  • Relationships — The presence of friends, family, intimacy, or social connection
  • Meaning — Belonging to and serving something bigger than one’s self
  • Achievement — Accomplishment that is pursued even when it brings no positive emotion, no meaning, and nothing in the way of positive relationships. [Source Wikipedia]

Dr. Jenkins called them pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. These were the drivers that let you flourish. Flourishing should be the new definition of success in life.

I loved the idea. I looked around. A sea of nodding heads. She hit the mark of the AWE.

The moment she mentioned PERMA I instantly saw a connection with public speaking. PERMA?


Public speaking is highly addictive. Once you jump over that hurdle of fear, it becomes an adrenaline kick you don’t want to miss anymore. Not true? Ask 300,000 plus Toastmasters from around the world. Public speaking, in the end, turns into pure pleasure.


As a public speaker we have one objective that hovers above everything else – to convey a message. But to do that, we need to engage our audience. We need to involve them, in the best case, meet them in our stories. Interaction, involvement, engagement – make them become an integral part of your speech.


The eyes are the windows to the soul. With direct eye contact you build connections. These connections last no longer than one or two seconds, but that’s more than enough to build relationships within your audience.


No message, no speech. Your message brings meaning to your speech. If your audience doesn’t think, act or feel differently after your speech, your speech was useless. Always add meaning to your speech; have a message!


Once you’ve given a speech or presentation, you sit down, your colleagues tap on your shoulder – don’t you feel the accomplishment? At Toastmasters I’ve seen so many accomplish so much. The projects, the titles, the awards – public speaking can be a fountain of accomplishment. Be the water!

When we enjoy the moment on stage, when we engage our audience, when be build connections, when we add meaning and when we feel accomplished – that’s when we flourish as speakers. That’s when we flourish PERMAnently.

I want to say a big thank you to Jill Jenkins and Marty Seligman for a big kick of inspiration.

Comments (4)

  1. Georgia Varjas

    Great summary of Dr Jill and her wise and humane approach to psychology. And…it is true the Toastmaster experience that you cleverly re-interpreted, PERMA…well, it cannot be underestimated the enlightening experience of the benefits of Public Speaking. Love it…shall ( with your permission and of course with full praise and credit to you, share with my TM members!

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