Claire has been booked for her first speaking engagement. She says while the idea of standing up in front of a group of people may strike fear into the hearts of lots of people – I’m one of those strange people who love it. To find out more about read on.
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Claire writes “Good news – I’ve got my first speaking engagement in connection with The English Volunteering Project. I’m going to be speaking at a luncheon run by the American Women’s Club http://awcstockholm.org/
While the idea of standing up in front of a group of people may strike fear into the hearts of lots of people – I’m one of those strange people who love it. I’ve never had any desire whatsoever to be an actor, but when I’m standing in front of a crowd of people who are all paying attention to me, I can understand the buzz that comes from acting.
I enjoy the challenge of keeping people’s attention, making them laugh and introducing them to new ideas in an interesting way. Not that it has always gone well. I can think of a few occasions when I could have happily slunk away into a dark corner and cried – had that been an option. What I have learned through trial and error is to understand what works for me, to have confidence in my own way of doing things and to learn from my mistakes.
Obviously being super prepared helps (although I am not someone who can work with a script that is written out word for word). But I also have to feel the part, which may involve dressing smartly, and (being a moderately sized person), wearing high heels. I also prefer to stand rather than sit in front of people, ideally with space to move about a bit. My temptation is always to try to cover too much material in one presentation, and I have to resist that urge or risk overwhelming and confusing my audience. And I like getting the audience involved a bit too, even if it’s only a show of hands about, for example, who has volunteered in the past.
If, or should I say, when things go wrong I find there are two helpful approaches. One is to ignore the situation and trust that your audience hasn’t noticed (which may well be the case). The other is to acknowledge what has happened and hope to get the audience’s sympathy. I once had to open a conference but had lost my voice (badly). I consoled myself on the way to the conference with the thought that there would be a microphone I could use, but there wasn’t. I squeaked out my piece and added that I hoped people at the back were able to hear. Afterwards two nuns came up to me and said that they’d been sitting at the back and had heard every word. I came very close to hugging them.
So I’m looking forward to doing my brief presentation for the American Women’s Club and want to thank them, in advance, for giving me the opportunity… and what should be a rather delicious lunch.”
By Claire Thomas
Check back in a few weeks to hear more about Claire’s progress.
Claire Thomas was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Northern Ireland and has lived in Scotland, England, Germany and now Sweden (where she hopes to stay for a good long while). In this blog she shares her experience of setting up a project focused on helping non-Swedish speakers to find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm.
If you are interested in the project you can contact Claire by email at [email protected]
Like us on Facebook to follow the project’s development – go to ‘The English Volunteering Project in Stockholm’.
The project is part of Volontärbyrån www.volontarbyran.org
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