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I was recently approached by a friend who’s thinking about giving a talk at Speakers’ Corner, in London’s Hyde Park. She has set this goal as part of some personal challenges this year. She thought I could give her some advice as she knows we set this particular challenge to the participants in our six month Inspiring Speakers Programme. She also remembers me doing a talk at Speakers' Corner myself when I participated in the Programme.
As I contemplated how I could be helpful, I thought about how it felt when I gave my talk at Hyde Park. I recalled that I didn’t spend long planning what I wanted to say. Compared to how much deep (and sometimes challenging) reflection we had done during the programme around our message and story, this felt looser somehow. As though I was being given permission to simply speak from my heart about something I felt deeply about – although to be honest, now reading that back, I realise how far I’ve come in my understanding of the process.
If only I knew then what I know now ...
Still at that time, that was how I looked at things. When I asked myself what I wanted to talk about, I quickly concluded it was the horrors of plastic surgery it’s just another way of controlling women.
The afternoon arrived. It was a hot summer’s day and the park had a slightly carnival atmosphere. There were people sitting on rugs enjoying picnics and others strolling in the sunshine licking ice creams and chatting. I was nervous yet excited; plus it was fun to meet up with my cohort who by now had become close friends. It felt like we could do anything as long as we stuck together.
We prepared ourselves mentally, took courage and before I knew it, I found myself at the top of a small ladder which Sarah had thoughtfully brought along, declaring my message to all who cared to listen.
I attracted a small crowd in no time. I won’t lie – there was a lot of heckling and even (although I didn’t know it at the time) a bit of mockery – there’s some embarrassing footage of me and photographic evidence if you want to take a look.
But I also remember there were some quiet moments too when the audience were actually listening to me and even, I noticed, some nods of agreement from a group of young women. That was a great, slightly euphoric feeling – I felt a bit like a politician or perhaps even a suffragette campaigning on behalf of women’s rights.
And that’s a key point – going to Hyde Park, declaring your message at Speakers’ Corner, has a special significance. Just participating in the process symbolizes the freedom of speech. It means participating in an iconic part of British history and culture
Participants in the Programme often view the Speakers’ Corner challenge as uniquely scary but in fact it’s one of the mostrewarding experiences of the whole six months. Yes, it takes a bit of courage to climb that ladder but let’s face it, that’s true of the whole programme.
And nothing really compares to that exhilarating moment when you notice that you’re speaking up in front of a not necessarily friendly audience about something you care passionately about. It's an exhilarating feeling to actually not care if you look foolish or if someone doesn’t agree with you... shouting back at you - sometimes quite loudly and rudely.
For in amongst that noisy, ebullient crowd are going to be some people who WILL agree with you. And maybe, for the ones who do not, you will open their minds to the possibility of thinking a different way. Perhaps you will inspire them with your words and your presence. Perhaps, tantalisingly, you will get the chance to experience what being an inspiring speaker is really all about.
Rona specialises in building confidence in speakers and as such is a great option if you are nervous about public speaking. Rona will help you find the courage needed to speak up for what you believe in. Having worked in a large corporate environment, she is perfectly placed if you would like to have more impact in professional situations.
Rona is available for 1-2-1 in Notting Hill, or online. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org She is also a Co-Active Life Coach and CPCC at Out Loud Coaching
If you’re eager to become a more inspiring speaker, you are invited to join a 6-month extended public speaking course like you’ve never seen before. Receive training, coaching, feedback and practical support from public speaking expert Sarah Lloyd-Hughes of Ginger Training & Coaching and her team. Find your message and unleash it on the world.
The Inspiring Speakers Programme is a natural choice for any speaker who wants to inspire an audience through a longer, more intensive and supported programme. But it’s also a leadership journey that benefits your confidence and self expression in all communication situations.
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