From afraid to award-winner
Although I love speaking, performing and teaching and have authored two books on communications, this wasn’t always the case.
Years ago, in my first corporate job, as a management consultant working in Princeton and New York in the USA, I struggled so much to step up and make myself heard, that I was put on probation.
A lack of empathy on the part of my employer at the time? Possibly.
I’d received no formal training or mentorship.
What got you here won’t get you there
But what I quickly realised was that what got me into that job – degrees from top universities and on-paper potential – wasn’t enough for me to be successful.
Thankfully, with the help of a kindly colleague, I turned that situation around and managed to stay in that role, very successfully, for several more years. However, on returning to the UK and taking on an account director role at a small design firm, I soon floundered again.
This time, I was afraid to speak up in meetings for fear of making a fool of myself or seeming to not know what I was talking about.
Despite many late nights spent reading journals and preparing presentations, my lack of confidence showed through.
This was around the time of September 11, 2001. The Twin Towers tragically came down and the aviation industry was in tatters because no-one wanted to fly.
One of our big clients was a national airline and the design firm I was working for began to struggle.
At the end of my 6 month probation period, I was called in to my boss’s office. The firm needed to save money and I was performing poorly in meetings.
An obvious candidate to let go, the inevitable happened and I was out of a job.
This experience led me to question myself. What value did I have to offer? Did I even deserve to be in the workplace?
Time for reflection
I checked out of my corporate life, trained to be a coach and worked on myself. It was during this time that I began taking singing lesssons – a childhood dream – and it was the confidence I gained from singing that eventually led me towards public speaking training.
Top mark globally
A helpful speaking coach encouraged me to sit an exam in speaking, which I aced, getting the top mark that year in all the exam centres globally, and I realised that yes, I did have what it takes to speak up and be heard.
Since then, I’ve made it a part of my mission to help others in the workplace who struggle to reach their potential because of lack of confidence or haven’t had the training that would help them communicate effectively and persuade with power.
Helping others realise their potential is what makes me tick. It’s why I love speaking from stage and sharing frameworks, tools and most importantly, the opportunity to try them out and be transformed in the room.