Public speaking comes naturally to Sandy Springs resident Nadia Bilchik.
STORY: Jill Becker
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
Born in South Africa, she was a well-known prime-time TV host in her native country. After moving to Atlanta in 1997, she worked for a couple of CNN networks, reporting on everything from tsunamis and mass shootings to celebrities and politicians. These days, she’s added author, keynote speaker, moderator and communications expert to her résumé. As president of Greater Impact Communication, she presents talks and training sessions on topics such as branding, personal development and networking to clients including Porsche, Starbucks, Accenture and Coca-Cola. “I’ve just always been comfortable on stage,” says Bilchik.
How did you first become interested in reporting?
I was acting in a movie with Gary Busey called Act of Piracy. I was getting interviewed for the movie, and I thought, I want to be the one doing the interviewing.
What was one of the most memorable stories you covered?
In 2010, I did a series of pieces on Nelson Mandela and South Africa during the World Cup. They were about what the country was experiencing at the time.
Who are some of the other big names you’ve interviewed?
Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep. George Clooney was so kind and gracious. Jennifer Lopez was lovely. I interviewed Matt Damon before anyone knew him.
How did you end up in Atlanta?
My husband was offered a job in real estate here. He mentioned CNN was in Atlanta. When we got here, I gave my demo tape to the head of security at CNN, and it got distributed to CNN International and CNN Airport.
How would you describe your job these days?
I’m a professional speaker. The essence of my work is conveying how to project confidence, competence and charisma to be as influential as possible. I tend not to say I’m a motivational speaker. I’m an application teacher. I help people apply the lessons.
How many speaking engagements do you do a week?
On average one or two. It takes a lot of prep and energy. I have to tailor and align it to the client’s goals and values.
One of the main things you teach is the art of communication. Why is it such a hot topic?
Good communication has always been important, but technology is changing at such a rate that we’re living in an age of electronic alienation, so it’s even more important. We have to do everything at an accelerated speed, and the saboteur of that is miscommunication. The generation coming into the workplace now is technically savvy but lacking in interpersonal skills.
What do you get asked about most in your seminars?
How to build confidence. Everyone is capable of it. The problem is we tell ourselves stories about ourselves that aren’t true. No one views you with the microscopic lens that you do. Part of it is reframing how you feel about yourself, focusing on the things that make you feel validated and give you a sense of personal accomplishment.
You coined the term “ramplify.” What does that mean?
Ramping up your presence and amplifying your personal brand. It’s about taking where you’re at to the next level.
What do you like to do in your off-time?
I’m an avid walker. I love Chastain Park. It’s so beautiful. In winter, I walk Lenox and Phipps and do some window-shopping. I’m also an avid reader and moviegoer.
What are your go-to places around town?
I love any place that serves cappuccino. I’m a regular at Cupanion’s in Sandy Springs. I’m a “coffeeonado.” In another life, I’d be a barista.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Binge watching. I speak so much for my work that I need a lot of downtime. That’s where Netflix comes in handy.
What’s something on your bucket list?
Doing the TEDx Talk at Emory this year was a bucket list item. I’d love to go back to South Africa for a period of time and fundraise and do some good. The need is so great. In South Africa, you are faced with your privilege. I’d love the luxury of being more philanthropic.
Have any daily rituals?
I give my daughters a motivational quote every day. It drives them crazy, but I think they’d miss it if I didn’t do it anymore.
Award-winning writer and editor who has penned stories for CNN, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and dozens of other outlets.