I’ve always struggling with speaking up. I’m naturally an introvert and ever since I was a child, my school reports always read “needs to speak up more” or “needs to contribute more in the classroom.” That’s why I write a blog; I’m better with writing words than saying them.
However, writing everything down can only get you so far in life. I’ve been putting myself out of my comfort zone this year in lots of new ways; I flew a plane, I went on a mystery holiday as a first date and I’ve thrown myself into the world of online dating but I’m also trying to push myself in terms of my career. Public speaking and confidence is something which I can sometimes lack in the workplace so when the Public Speaking Academy offered me the chance to attend their Confidence and Presentation Skills programme I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
The course is spread out over three full-day sessions, on the first Saturday of the month for three months. I took part in the Leeds course but you can also go to courses in Sheffield, Birmingham and London. Each session includes a number of modules, aimed at improving both your confidence and ability to speak publicly. This included a module on tone of voice, which included reading passages of famous speeches in different ways, another covering how stand and gesture to add weight to your words and plenty of quick games and debates which encouraged us to get more confident offering an opinion and reacting to unknown situations.
One of the most challenging modules for me was one on impromptu speeches. We were each given a topic and asked to immediately talk about this for two minutes. As someone who likes to plan what they say, I found this so difficult but it was really useful in building confidence that you will never “lose your words.” We learnt skills on how to shift the topic to cover something you are confident talking about, using the audience to create your content for you and being able to just go for it and talk, without worrying about what you are really saying!
At the end of each day, every participant stands in the centre of the room and delivers a three minute pitch. The pitch can cover any topic you like; people practiced a work presentation, their elevator networking pitch, told a story or and one person delivered their best man speech!
Afterwards, you receive positive feedback from the other participants:
“Your smile makes me want to smile,” one said.
I grinned even more.
“You’re my favourite,” one whispered.
My heart swelled.
Being able to stand and receive positive feedback initially felt uncomfortable; my instinct was to downplay any compliments or point out what went wrong. Once I forced myself to accept the positive comments, it felt amazing and I found myself actually wanting to present again.
I’ve already seen positive changes from the Confidence and Public Speaking Course in the workplace, from knowing how to structure a presentation to being able to confidently and concisely explain what I do at networking events. I even agreed to a video interview by CLiKD App, something I would probably never have signed up to before completing the Public Speaking Academy course.
If you want to improve your public speaking and confidence, check out the Public Speaking Academy in London, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham.
I received a discount for my three month Confidence and Public Speaking course in exchange for this post, but all views are my own.