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Chotzen motivates students to improve

by Shauree Garth-Kurch, staff writer


Annabel Chotzen speaks softly, but she delivers powerful words. She’s a professional motivational speaker who gives seminars all over the country. Chotzen launched her motivational-speaking career in 1994, the same year she also became an adjunct communication instructor at HPU, teaching beginning and advanced public speaking, business communication and career communication. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music and dance from Bennington College, Vermont, and her master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

Annabel Chotzen
Chotzen received her training as a public speaker in Toastmasters International, which is “devoted to helping men and women learn the art of speaking, listening, and thinking – vital skills that promote self-actualization, enhance leadership potential, and foster human understanding,” ( As a member of Toastmasters, she was named Hawai‘i state champion in 1993 and again in 1998, and was a regional finalist in both of those years. She first got involved in Toastmasters in Seattle, Wash., where she grew up. She believes that, after taking her class, her students have a reduced fear of public speaking. She said that she tries to make her class a safe environment where opinions can be expressed that won’t go beyond the classroom. Students get lots of practice delivering impromptu and prepared speeches, all of which are videotaped so students, using the rules of public speaking, can evaluate and critique themselves.

Whether speaking in a classroom or a boardroom, Chotzen motivates listeners to tap into their lives for inspiration. She exemplifies this by using her own life experiences in her speeches. She tells the story of her father’s escape from Nazi Germany, to show her listeners how, even in the face of impossible odds, one can prevail.

Chotzen believes that “how we think is what happens in our lives.” To keep herself motivated, she said, she watches her own videotape, Making Your Dreams Come True, which reminds her to stay positive. She said that she also uses some visualization techniques to stay positive. She will go for a run and visualize herself doing well, and she will “toss negative thoughts to the trees,” she said. She also compared life to driving in a car: “If my thoughts get negative,” she said, “it’s like I’m driving off the road,” and she will steer her thoughts back on track.

Chotzen uses the kukui nut as a tool to help her students focus on improving their lives and their communication. At the beginning of each semester or seminar she presents each student with a kukui nut and tells them how the ancient Hawaiians used the nut for healing and as oil for their lamps. She asks her students to find some aspect of their lives, no matter how small it seems, to build on to achieve their life goals. Chotzen said she gets calls from students all the time, who tell her they still have their kukui nuts.

Chotzen will be teaching beginning and advanced public speaking and business communications this spring. She often recommends her students get involved with Toastmasters.

She sometimes even requires them to attend meetings at HPU’s Polyglot Toastmasters Club, which is affiliated with Toastmasters International and is open to everyone to attend. If you would like to attend a Polyglot Toastmasters meeting please contact Evan Carr at or Marianne Luken at

For information on Annabel Chotzen’s seminars call 728-3355 or e-mail anabelle



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