Becoming a public speaking coach was never part of the plan...
In fact, I actively avoided every public speaking opportunity that was thrown at me when I was at school. I wanted to become a professional football coach. So I took my first coaching qualification straight after my 16th birthday, making me one of the youngest coaches in the country at the time, and spent my summer holidays coaching children at soccer schools and I loved every second of it.
Football coaching funded my way through university. I became the University of Birmingham men's football team coach and looking back now, delivering pre-match and half time team talks were my first real experience of speaking to motivate and inspire action.
When I graduated, I found myself co-running a charity fundraising organisation which we grew from 4 to over 250 people, generating £12.5 million of revenue in the process. Public speaking was at the heart of our growth strategy; we would spend 3 months each year travelling to the top universities in the country delivering presentations as part of our recruitment process.
It was during that time I founded TEDxClapham, an offshoot of TED talks and used my public speaking experience to help the speakers prepare to present on the big stage. Some of those talks went on to change legislation, lobby the UN and raise finance. Others have since been seen by millions of people online and that was when I realised that done right, public speaking is an incredible catalyst for change.
The problem is, most people fall short when it comes to presenting in front of an audience…
Some sap the life and energy from our souls and don’t do their message justice. Others have the ability to make anything sound interesting; but often their message gets lost in the process. While many shy away from every public speaking opportunity that comes their way, which in itself is a real shame because those that do are often the ones that have something worth listening to.
Empowering EVERY voice is at the heart of what I do.
At TEDxClapham we were always inundated with applications to speak, yet most of my time was spent trying to persuade some of the quieter leaders to take the stage. This isn’t just a problem in the world of thought-leadership, it’s a problem in organisations too. The same voices are being heard time and again and it is reflected in leadership representation across the workplace
The public speaking coaching industry was built on the principle that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it that counts. The result? This illusion that public speaking is for extroverts. Some of the world’s best communicators would class themselves as introverts and they put themselves forward because they are driven by a higher purpose to make change happen.
My philosophy is different… What you say matters.
The most common cause of stage fright is not knowing whether what you’ve got to say is any good; fear of judgement. When people have confidence in the message they want to share, it changes everything. From how they deliver it, to perhaps most importantly of all, who is delivering it.
I run public speaking coaching programmes, workshops and training days for leaders and organisations that need their employees to communicate with clarity and impact.