When I was 13 I was the kind of student that was scared to speak my mind and make mistakes. Occasionally a tentative hand would be half-raised in the air – only to sink back down again – as premonitions of embarrassment would override my curiosity.
Little did I know, my History teacher at the time, Ms. Britton, had observed my lack of confidence and put me forward for a programme run by the then named Speaker’s Bank (now Speakers Trust).
Whilst by no means a natural, I worked very hard over the course of 6 weeks to prepare for the inter-borough finale of the programme, a public speaking competition held at Citigroup’s Headquarters in Canary Wharf.
I didn’t win.
Or did I?
Since completing that programme I have jumped at the opportunity of speaking in public at any event, and to anyone.
Speakers Trust taught me how to communicate effectively, and it was not long before my confidence in front of a group of people seeped into my everyday personality, simultaneously raising my ambition and determination to do well in life.
I can’t thank them enough for a course that, I honestly believe, changed my life for the better.
Do I get nervous now when speaking to a group of people? Sometimes, but I feel so distinct from the child who could barely raise his hand in lessons, that I struggle to comprehend how we are the same person.
And perhaps even more tellingly than this, my current job (which I love!) involves standing up and speaking in front of people everyday, but now I pick the students, with their hands half-up, as a teacher adamant about the importance of confidence as a precursor to success.
Michael Ghany, Teacher, Notre Dame RC Secondary Girls’ School