in her own words…
“I was getting invitations to go along and speak at events, but I was very nervous. I’m very passionate about my subject but found that when it came to speaking in front of an audience I would shake and forget what I needed to say…”
‘I felt compelled to do public speaking as with years of experience working in the field of domestic abuse, I had a lot of really valuable information and expertise that I felt a real passionate about sharing. I wanted to communicate to a new and wider audience, and I was getting the invitations to go along to speaking events, but I was very nervous. I’m very passionate about my subject but found that when it came to speaking in front of an audience I would shake. I would forget what I needed to say and found because of the fear and the anxiety, my actual physical breathing would prevent me from actually speaking. I felt my breath was constricting and I could tell that, as I was talking, I was getting more and more out of breath. I thought this is ridiculous and decided I really needed some coaching.’
With an award acceptance speech imminent, Julie, signed up for a Finding You Voice group coaching course. As part of this 3-half day’s course, she worked in small groups and on her own using tools around breath, projection, pitch and tone. She was supported and encouraged to step outside of her comfort zone, to play and experiment with her own voice and presentation. Julie gained an understanding of:
- the mechanics of the voice and breath.
- how to manage breath and control nerves.
- how to prepare for speaking to an audience and how to hold attention.
- How to use pitch, tone, pace and pause.
- How to use the different elements of the voice for greater authority, better engagement and to inspire.
“I realised I had time to look around and engage people, I wasn’t just looking down and mumbling into the ground”
Julie Johns, MBE
She was also given the opportunity to practice in front of an audience, i.e., the rest of the group.
Julie bought her acceptance speech along to the last session and was supported and given feedback by me and the group.
‘It really helped that I was able to present my speech to you and the other students in the class. There were several layers of fear. The presentation of it first of all, and then the speech itself, whether what I had written was going to be received positively. I needn’t have worried, I got positive feedback and that was when my confidence really grew.
Another concern for me was whether it was OK to read from my script in public because there’s no way I could remember 6 pages. After practising in the class, I found I was able to look up and make eye contact even though I then had to look down and prompt myself with the next part of the speech. I realised I had time to look around and engage people, I wasn’t just looking down and mumbling into the ground, I could pick up the next part of the speech and throw it out to the back of the room just as you taught us to, Jackie.’
“Now, with the help of your coaching, Jackie, I feel much more confident. I’m able to do it and enjoy it. I still get nervous, but I know I can do it.”
Julie gained so much from the experience of working with me and the group that she has continued to give speeches and presentations in physical and Zoom rooms. Plus, her work around domestic abuse issues earned her a well-deserved MBE. No public speaking required at the Palace though, just a curtsey.
Julie worked with me further in a 1-2-1 session around how her story could be used to build trust and rapport with her audience.
‘I’m enjoying speaking more and the nerves are going and that’s the most remarkable thing. It’s like rediscovering yourself all over again.
Building trust is very important and it’s a subject I focus on for a variety of speeches. I have worked for 20 years supporting people who have experienced domestic abuse and that is where the majority of my information and expertise comes from but also from the experience’s I’ve had in my own life having suffered domestic abuse which led to mental health issues.
In my business, Safe Space Consultancy, I work to raise awareness of the behaviours and tactics of perpetrators, making the public aware of the early warning signs of domestic abuse, perpetrator tactics and how domestic abuse can impact individuals, on family members, into the workplace and wider society, so being able to use my own experiences with domestic abuse to help others is crucial.
It’s because of my experiences that I am compelled and have a passion to share what I’ve learnt but I suffered many fears and anxieties and was held back by a lack of confidence. Now, though, with the help of your coaching, Jackie, I feel much more confident. I’m able to do it and enjoy it. I still get nervous, but I know I can do it.’