July Leader Profile: RYAN FOLAND


Global Keynote Speaker, published author, artist, and brand consultant who joined the HCT Community in 2017.

Ryan Foland has what every business leader wants and needs: a visible online presence, a strong voice of influence, something innovative to say, and the personality, confidence, and speaking skills to pull it all together. I had the chance to talk with Ryan about his background, how he developed as a business leader, and how he evolved as a successful speaker.

How did you evolve your public speaking skills? Were you born with the right mix of personality traits, or was this something you learned and developed over time?

When I was a kid, I got picked on and bullied by some of my classmates. Whatever I said, just seemed to fuel the fire and it wasn't until my dad basically forced me to take karate that I really started to understand how to communicate. I learned that you can't not communicate. And this gave me confidence, because I realized that I could communicate with my posture, and how I carried myself. This helped me get more comfortable speaking up, and flash forward to my senior year in high school, I was elected senior class president by the same classmates who had bullied me in middle school. In college, along with earning a degree in Business Economics, I studied theater, helping me learn the nuanced elements of communication. And to this day, I still practice my speaking skills. The trick to public speaking is speaking more. If I can do it, so can you.

Who is your biggest role model?

My father has been my biggest role model since day one. He is an educator and motivator, and has empowered me to be a leader by encouraging me to learn, and helping me not be afraid to fail. He has always been supportive of my crazy ideas, my business adventures, and more importantly, has been there by my side during my failures. He taught me the value of being kind, accepting, and of putting people first. He has led by listening to me, and letting me forge my own unique path. He has taught me to build upon my strengths, as opposed to trying to fix where I am weak.

What are 3 tips for becoming a better public speaker?

  1. Invest time in improving your skills

  2. Look for opportunities to practice

  3. Surround yourself with the right people

How do you find opportunities for public speaking?

  • Think of your many daily conversations as mini-audiences. You don't necessarily need to be on a stage to speak with authority and enthusiasm. Incorporate more awareness about the stories you tell, and use small conversations throughout the day as opportunities to practice material.

  • While engaging with social media typing replies, using emojis and GIFs, don’t forget that video features allow you to flex your speaking skills more than you might imagine. Consider replying on social media with video, or making Instagram stories where you turn the camera on yourself and speak your mind.

  • You can also volunteer for free speaking opportunities to get your name out there. I attended a weekly startup event, and they asked if anyone wanted to “host” the event. I volunteered because it was a great chance to practice. I did well, and they asked me to keep hosting. It was great exposure, and that was the start of how I became known as the #GingerMC.

  • Join Toastmasters. With many clubs now having virtual meetings, the opportunity to find a club that matches your vibe is easier than ever. Going to Toastmasters has been a secret weapon in my speaking career. I give speeches, using the safe environment to practice my content and get feedback from individuals I trust. If you want to visit my Toastmasters, just