Allison is one of the world’s foremost experts on public speaking and presentation skills. She is the Founder/CEO of Global Public Speaking LLC, a communication training firm that works with emerging and established leaders to help them speak clearly, concisely, and confidently. She is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and has spent over 15 years working with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations around the world.
Allison studied classical voice at Boston University. After becoming disillusioned with the field of opera, she moved into public diplomacy, where her operatic training made her a powerful speaker and coach. Allison started her own communication business in Boston, MA, and consulted with presidential advisor David Gergen when he taught the Arts of Communication at the Harvard Kennedy School. Over ten years later, she would teach that same course.
In 2012, Allison took a leap of faith and moved the company to Washington, DC. She engaged other trainers and coaches and published Speak With Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others with HarperCollins Leadership, making her teaching and philosophy available to people around the world.
Allison holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and is a professional member of the National Speakers Association. She speaks Italian and Hebrew, has studied eight other languages, and has led programs on-site in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America.
Allison is passionate about empowering women, and she travels with the nonprofit Vital Voices Global Partnership, helping women leaders worldwide grow their business, run for office, or launch a non-profit organization. She has spoken at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit, the Most Powerful Women in Banking LEAD Conference, and was a finalist for 2017 Woman Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners, San Diego Chapter.
Allison is also an internationally-renowned singer/songwriter who uses music to help others find their voice. She has performed at legendary folk venues such as Club Passim and Caffè Lena, and she is a member of the two-woman band Joan & Joni, a tribute to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, which she performs with fellow musician Kipyn Martin.
I wished I had met her years ago. She prods us to ask tough questions: what do we want to accomplish, who is our audience, why should they listen to us. And then, she makes us critique ourselves and test our messages with the audience. I have seen Shapira at work with a roomful of reserved yet talented young women. At the end of the two-day workshop, she had compelling speeches coming forth.
Media Entrepreneur, First President, Nickelodeon, Co-founder, Oxygen
I’m a recovering opera singer …’ What a fabulous self-introduction, and from that moment forward, all the way through to her closing remarks in each training workshop, Allison skillfully commands and navigates the attention of her audience with professionalism, grace, humour, and insight. She provides tips, tools, and tricks that can be immediately applied to almost any public speaking activity. Having observed Allison sharing this expertise with numerous audiences from diverse cultures, sectors, and geographies around the world since we started working with her in 2014, I have witnessed the shyest person in the room, positively squirming in the corner of the room just at the very thought of speaking in front of an audience of trusted colleagues, transform into a confident speaker raising their hand to be the first volunteer to practice their speech.
Vice President, Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship, Vital Voices Global Partnership
I had the pleasure of meeting Allison at a recent WIT event in Washington, DC, where she talked about Speaking with Impact. Her passion and energy filled the room as soon as she started to speak. Through her powerful and authentic message, paired with simple yet engaging activities, she explained the key elements of impactful verbal communication and how we can strive to achieve it with understanding and practice. I left the session inspired and empowered; her speech gave me a new perspective. I have no doubt I share this feeling with many others who have heard her speak.
Engineering Lead, Nuance
Thanks, Allison, for helping me find my “why” and encouraging me to pause and breathe!
Duyen “Jen” Truong
Vice President of Public Relations, Sage Communications
Allison’s brilliant workshop gave the (RED) team many of the tips and tools needed to become engaging public speakers. In just a couple of hours, Allison had us all on our feet confidently practicing newly acquired skills, providing feedback with is constructive and totally actionable…Allison, my team, is talking about your presentation nonstop — you made an incredible difference. If they are better pitchers, you have played a big part in saving many lives. Thank you again.
You are an amazing teacher. You may have taught for just an hour, but that hour changed my life last year, and I have you to thank you.
Women’s Initiative in Leadership, Harvard University Institute of Politics
I always thought I was a good public speaker but had no idea how much of a diamond in the rough I was until I met Allison. She helped polish my public speaking, but, most importantly, she gave me the confidence to stand tall. Each time I am asked to speak, I think back on the lessons I learned from Allison — from how to breath and relax my body, to letting my passion shine through. Every minute with Allison is worth its weight in gold…It is clear that Allison has a passion for teaching and empowering people. She is an expert at helping people feel comfortable in their own skin, which is the key to winning in all aspects of public speaking. When Allison speaks, we all listen, because every word is full of wisdom. I’m grateful that our lives have crossed paths.
Participant, Latino Leadership Initiative
Harvard Kennedy School