Tell me a little about yourself.
I am a fourth-year business student at the Alberta School of Business with a major in Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Management, as well as Certificates in Leadership and International Learning. My passion for entrepreneurship led me to founding TalkMaze during my first year of university. In addition to leading my company, I am actively involved in local and global startup ecosystems. In my free time, I love travelling, baking, and learning new languages. In 2023, I've had the chance to cross off the Grand Canyon and Jamaica from my bucket list! They were both incredible places to visit.
What does public speaking mean to you?
Public speaking extends far beyond simply addressing a large audience. It is about communication in all aspects of your life. Most importantly, it is about using the power of words to positively influence the world around you.
What would you say makes a good public speaker?
There are two key things that make a good public speaker — adaptability and confidence.
A good public speaker knows how to cater their communication to the audience they are speaking to. The ability to express yourself confidently and articulate yourself clearly makes you a speaker who people would want to listen to.
What are some impacts you have had in the field of public speaking that make you proud?
I grew up as a very shy child, so running a business focused on public speaking would have been the last thing I imagined I would do. I am grateful for the opportunity to build an organization that impacts children around the world and helps them find their voice. Through my work with TalkMaze, I have had the honour to represent Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance Summit and at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA). What I am most passionate about is using my voice to amplify others' voices. To advocate for young people, women, and underrepresented entrepreneurs, I sit on the Junior Achievement's Board of Directors and Edmonton Unlimited's Innovation Growth Council. As a professional speaker, I have delivered many talks on youth empowerment, including four TEDx talks. My most recent TEDx talk recounted my journey as a daughter of immigrants.
(Image: Ghalia delivering a TEDx talk in 2022 at the University of Alberta).
Name two great speakers you look up to.
Tell me about an experience when you travelled to speak at a conference.
This is interesting! I have been to lots of conferences and events as a speaker. In particular, I enjoyed my time when I went to Austin, Texas, last year in February 2022 to speak at the Control The Room Summit by Voltage Control. This was my first in-person talk post-pandemic, and we had attendees from all over the world. Funnily enough, the very next day after I spoke, the city shut down due to a bit of freezing rain (I'm used to snow and -30°C in Edmonton, so it was very surprising!).
Would you rather address an audience of a thousand people or a small group of panelists?
It depends on the context! If I had to pick, I would probably enjoy addressing a thousand people. Hmm… yes, definitely a thousand people! A big audience! And that's because there's a lot of room for creativity and impact since I would be able to have my message heard by a thousand unique individuals.
What are your thoughts on mentorship?
As I progressed in public speaking and debate as a teenager, it was difficult for me to find role models who looked like me. One of the reasons I started TalkMaze was to leverage mentorship to help younger students find relatable role models. My parents and teachers served as some of my earliest mentors. I know that any successes I have had today would not be possible without the guidance of all my incredible mentors. I believe that it is important to be involved in mentorship as both a mentor and a mentee. There is so much to learn on both sides!
What has been your biggest "aha moment" - in life or work - so far?
Wow! It is hard to pick one. In regards to TalkMaze, back when I was volunteering as a debate coach at a local junior high school, I remember seeing one of my students, a young girl, crying outside the class after getting cut from the debate club. She was one of the 20 students who were told they could no longer participate in the debate program due to a lack of resources and capacity. I knew at that moment that I wanted to create something to help kids around the world access speech and debate training.
(Image: Ghalia on her trip to Iceland).
What was the inspiration that brought TalkMaze to life?
Joining the debate team in seventh grade changed my life because it gave me a safe space to speak up. Following that, I started coaching debate in 2016. We had about 20 kids in the beginning. We had over 80 interested in joining, and hence, we experienced a lack of resources to accommodate that big a group. As a result, we had to say no to kids. I knew how powerful public speaking and debating were and the immense impact they had on me. Birthed out of this experience, I launched TalkMaze in 2020 in order to provide such students with a platform to learn public speaking.
Can you share some information about TalkMaze? How can aspiring students who want to improve their public speaking skills get involved?
The Odyssey is a one-on-one program designed for kids aged 5-17 that takes them through different levels of public speaking. You can visit our website at TalkMaze to learn more. Post-secondary students who are involved in public speaking are encouraged to apply to become a coach!
What's next for you? Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
There's a lot going on at TalkMaze. We are currently participating in the Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator program and the League of Innovators Boost Residency to continue growing our reach. As of now, the plan is to keep growing the team and building TalkMaze one step at a time.
Aside from TalkMaze, I'm excited to be wrapping up my undergraduate degree. I'm also continuing my professional speaking career and plan to deliver more talks at conferences and events in the coming year. Feel free to reach out to me at ghaliaaamer.com if you are looking for a speaker at an upcoming event!
What is one piece of advice you would give to a budding entrepreneur?
Proactively build your support network early. It can get lonely as you embark on this difficult journey, but it is incredibly rewarding and even more so when you have peer entrepreneurs to lean on for support. Some of my best friends are fellow entrepreneurs from across the country. Get connected with organizations like the League of Innovators that can help you develop a network of peers and mentors who have experienced similar struggles and wins.
TalkMaze integrates technology, curriculum, and coaches to instill confidence in kids aged 5-17 through virtual public speaking and debate training. Learn more at talkmaze.com.