I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to speak at a variety of events and also at colleges and universities too.

Here, you’ll find information relating to my public speaking ‘adventures’. This will include things like how to decide what to wear when you’re delivering a TEDx talk, books to read to improve your public speaking, things I’ve learnt, and more.

The idea is not to boast about my own public speaking, but more to help inspire you. If I can do it, you certainly can, and hopefully this section will help you if this is something you’d like to do more of!

I’m speaking at TEDxTelford – get your tickets!

TEDxTelfordI’m really, really excited to say that I’ve been invited to give my second TEDx talk this month. The talk will be at TEDxTelford and, like my previous talk, it’ll all be about social media. Of course the actual subject will be slightly different but it’s about social media all the same. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and can’t thank the selectors and the team at TEDxTelford enough. However I want to tell you a little bit more about this talk and about the superb venue it’s being held at. At the time I write this, I know there are few tickets left. I also know that the speaker schedule is incredible. I’m really excited to go and do my talk, but I am also really excited to hear the other speakers that I and anyone attending gets to listen to on the day.

Where is it

TEDxTelford is being held at the Telford Innovation Campus, part of the University of Wolverhampton. It’s a really lovely campus (and really easy to find too!). For someone that only goes places on their satnav(!), trust me when I say it’s really easy to find! The venue is lovely and the campus is clean and there are lots of places to park to. The room that we’re in is nice and airy and as you walk into the main building there is a Formula 3 car on its side. I don’t know why, but this  impressed me, and I spent more time than I should have done taking pictures of it from all angles!

When is it

TEDx Telford will be held on Saturday 29th of September this year. Some tickets are still available, the price includes lunch and a whole day’s worth of amazing talks. When I say amazing, trust me on this. I had a rehearsal last weekend and the talks I heard were absolutely mind-blowing. The journey home was quite something as my little mind kept churning away and thinking of all the superb things I’d heard and how inspiring they were. And I only heard three of the speakers. Altogether there are 16 speakers giving talks on the day. All the talks sound really interesting. I know that you’ll take something amazing away from listening to them.

Who’s speaking?

Well as I said above there are 16 speakers talking at TEDxTelford. The theme is ‘not business as usual’, but within that the topics are hugely diverse. We have social media talks, we have talks about helping to educate children, we have talks about all sorts of things, and they all sound incredible. Here is the link to the TEDxTelford site where you can get a full list of the speakers and the titles of the talks. All the people who are giving talks have had to go through a pretty rigorous application process. Obviously I went through this process so I know(!). Not only did we have to apply giving our credentials and detail the talk and why we should give it, we also had to submit a video. From what I understand, a number of speakers applied and only 16 (including me) were selected. I think this really shows the level of the talks you’re going to listen to because I can’t imagine anybody who applied was anything less of fabulous.

Should you come?

If you’d like to listen to some really superb speakers, feel motivated, and spend the day in a really lovely inspiring setting around people who are there for the same purpose, then absolutely yes. As I said, there are still a few tickets available and I would be going if I wasn’t already speaking at the event.  Another great thing is as this is a day-long event, the speakers will be there over lunchtime and you can go and speak to them if you’d like to. I really like this idea because it means I get to speak to people who have heard or will hear me speak.  It also means that you get to interact with people who you want to ask more about. The thing about TEDx is it’s all about short and punchy talks with most ranging between 10 and 15 minutes as the limit is 18 minutes. I like this idea because it means that people have to really think about what they’re saying and condense whatever they’re saying so you get the key info. The negative side of this is if it’s someone that you’re really interested in and really like listening to you may feel that you want to know more. But you can ask them at lunchtime. How good is that?

So that’s a brief overview of TEDxTelford. I really think if you can come and you’re in the area, do. There are a limited number of tickets and it’s amazing value. If you want to get in get in now, here’s the link. I hope to see you there

Consistency is king – but what happens when things go wrong?

They say the consistency is king, and I for one preach that. But what happens when your life and work mean that you can’t be as consistent as you want to be? Do you throw in the towel? Do you just struggle on? Do you become completely overwhelmed and brand yourself as a complete failure? Well over the last few weeks I have not been as consistent as I want to be with my blog, just because I have not physically had enough hours in the day to do the work I need to do and do the blog as well. And I wanted to explain a little bit more about why that is. I’m also here to talk about how I am getting back on the path to being consistent. Because it really is important.

Ahh – September…

September is always a really busy month in my world. I have Christmas things that are kicking off for PR and marketing clients, but I also have Burghley Horse Trials and Blenheim Horse Trials. And this year I’ve chucked in a couple of extra fun things too. So first there’s Burghley Horse Trials. A number of my clients attend Burghley Horse Trials and it is a really big deal for them. I don’t actually attend in person and haven’t for a few years, but I am very involved in all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make the Horse Trials a big success for my clients. One particular client is Hiho Silver. Not only do they have a stand there, but the company also sponsors the best dressed at the first trot up. Because it is a sponsorship, a lot of preparation goes in behind the scenes before the event even starts. I was absolutely thrilled with how all this came together during the event, but it does take a lot of time. Worth every second though – seeing a big project come together perfectly is a real buzz and one I wouldn’t trade!

Then there was Style, Skills & Silver

A few days later we embarked on Hiho’s very first instameet which was called Style, Skills and Silver. This took place at The Fish Hotel in Broadway and was absolutely amazing on every possible level. I loved every minute, but it took a lot of work behind the scenes too. Emma Warren, Hiho’s Queen Bee, was the person who came up with the idea and did do a huge amount of work, but everyone involved also worked their socks off on their respective elements to make the day the huge success it was. 

Then there was Blenheim Horse Trials

The next thing was Blenheim Horse Trials which, again, was a brilliant event. I did actually attend on the Friday too. Again, Hiho Silver sponsored the best dressed at the first trot up, and there was quite a bit to do around that. I did go for the day on the Friday as I mentioned, and met up with a few people and had a really great time. But it’s another day out of the system and when I have a certain amount of work to do, it’s my blog and content that takes the hit (and so it should be!).

And then there’s my second TEDx talk…

And then this month, just for a laugh, I was very very pleased to accept the invitation to do my second TEDx talk. This one is at TEDx Telford in 10 days time. Not only did the application process take a little bit of time in terms of having to submit various things, but also preparing a talk. I’ve got another rehearsal to go and then the actual event itself. At every stage, this does take quite a lot of time, and so it should do. TED and TEDx are big institutions and when you have the privilege of being invited to speak at these, you need to pay it the respect it deserves. This means time, energy and a whole lot of sweat(!) go into making sure that what I am presenting is useful to the audience and withholds TED and TEDx’s values too. I take this quite seriously because I think it’s such an honour to be invited not just for one talk but for my second. I kind of think this proves that the first one wasn’t all that bad!

Excuses?

I’m not trying to make excuses but I’m being realistic here. My blog and the content I create have to support my business. When I have plenty of work to do, and the reason I have created this content (as in, to help people, create opportunities and show what I can do) has created the work I want, it would be crazy not to do those things in order to create more content, to get the opportunities that I’ve already been given. See what I mean? So the blog is the thing that’s taken a hit. I do tend to schedule my blogs in advance and I have a load saved as draft, but being a bit of a perfectionist (which is not a great thing), I like to proofread, tweak, add links and images after I’ve written them. This means that although I have quite a few saved and ready to go, they still take quite a lot of work to get to the final stages.

This isn’t a bad thing. I did really beat myself up about it because I do preach that consistency is king. I’m not changing that – it is!

But it’s not everything…

I haven’t dropped ball on everything. My social media is still pretty strong. But that’s how I think it should be. I like to experiment, try and test different things on different platforms, so I can pass this learning on to my clients and then they get the to use my ‘testings’ on their own accounts. Also, I feel that the referrals and everything else from my social media to my website and to my other social media platforms makes them really really valuable. And as someone who teaches and lectures on social media, I need to be on the pulse on that.

I really love writing and sharing what I’ve been up to with you all. Because of the amount of time and energy each blog takes to write, that tends to be the thing that gets the biggest hit when I’m busy. So I’d like to apologise. I’ve still been putting out at least one blog each week, but it can be up to three (as per my schedule). I’m thinking of revising the schedule too – but that’s another blog!

What do you do to get consistency back?

If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls and want to get your consistency in content creation back again, I have some tips…

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. These things happen. We all make mistakes and when things get busy it’s very easy to become less consistent because you’re overwhelmed everything else. Accept that this is life. But also accept that you need to pick yourself up and crack on. Don’t dwell.
  2. Start with one thing. If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls don’t try and pick them all up and start juggling at the same time because you’re just going to feel overwhelmed. If you think that you can pick up one social media platform at a time, for example, then do it. And do that one well. You can then add the rest in when you’re feeling a lot more confident in what you’re doing. So rather been completely overwhelmed by everything being thrown at you all over again, just add one thing at a time into your schedule so you know that you can cope.
  3. And last but not least – you need to get back on it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, you might wonder why you need to get back on it. Because things have been going well without being consistent in your content. But I think it’s because you’ve been consistent for so long. And this means it’s not something you should consider stopping too quickly. I’m not prepared to drop it. I’ve kept my social media channels running as I said above, but the blog for me is really really important for so many different reasons. It’s been so useful for me. I know how much it helps people and I get lots of lovely comments from people saying they’ve read something on my blog and it’s changed the way they view something. That, to me, is so important. 

So I hope that’s helped. Being consistent is king. It really, really is, but I also want to acknowledge in this blog that we all make mistakes and we all drop the ball. What’s important is how we pick it back up and carry on. 

 

Hiho Silver #styleskillsandsilver Instameet at The Fish Hotel, Broadway

The Fish Hotel BroadwayThere are going to be a few blogs about Hiho Silver’s amazing Style, Skills & Silver event, because I’m still buzzing from it. Last Thursday (6th September) was the day of the event we’d been working towards for a while. And I say we because it really was a we. The event was the brainchild of Hiho’s Queen Bee, Emma Warren, but the two workshops that were held were a huge team effort, that I will tell you about in more detail soon. Today, we’re focusing on the beautiful venue – The Fish Hotel, Broadway.

The Fish Hotel, Broadway

Based on the Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel is a real hidden gem. And it is properly hidden too! You clamber up a hill called Fish Hill (and it’s a serious hill with some quite surprising bends!), before taking a left down a long drive. The Estate is massive and contains three amazing venues/hotels – there’s The Fish Hotel, Dormy House and Foxhill Manor. As you turn off the main road, you are taken down an incredibly long drive. It would have been useful if I’d measured the length of the drive but this thought only dawned on me as I started to write the paragraph. The thing is, the length of the drive isn’t the thing you remember. It’s the view. I headed to the venue with Ruth (Dressage Anywhere) and as I’d been there before, I wittered on about the view for most of the drive down the drive. I’ve seen the view before but it was no less impressive second time around. Worcestershire stretches out beneath you and it’s just a sight to behold. I took a picture when I went for a recce, but it doesn’t do it justice. The scale can’t be appreciated in a picture. The entrance is impressive and sets the tone for everything else.

Springfield House

The Fish is made up of a few different areas. The Hook is the restaurant were we had a very nice pizza for dinner the night before, Springfield House is where we held Style, Skills & Silver, we stayed in the Coach House (I think). They also have a number of other buildings in the grounds, including some stunning shepherd huts by Blackdown Shepherd Huts that people can stay in too. It’s clearly a big place, but the careful design of it all means it all feels rather private and lovely. There’s also a lot of greenery – when we walked up from the restaurant the night before (we didn’t stop setting up until gone 9pm so dinner was quite late), it was lovely – tree lined, beautifully lit… heavenly.

Springfield House has quite a different vibe to the restaurant but it’s absolutely lovely too. It manages to strike the mix of modern, cosy, funky, quirky and practical. And that’s quite a combination! We had four rooms in total on two different floors. The first floor was where we held the workshops – the space and the light were lovely and worked so well with the practical workshops. Up a level we had a lovely lounge where we met at the beginning and end of the day, and the room next door where we had lunch and chatted too. The rooms were lovely and having the space over the two floors worked so well with the way the day ran.

Where we stayed

The night before I stayed in the Coach House. I shared a twin room with Ruth and it was the most beautiful room. Lovely fresh white bed linen, Galaxy hot chocolate (yes, I’m very easily bought!), a huge bathroom with lovely toiletries. Everything was beautiful. But like with Springfield House, it was beautiful but very cosy and comfy too. There was a handwritten welcome note, really lovely blankets on the bed, a wooden book with ‘All you need to know’ written on it including all the important things you needed to know, like how the wifi worked. The decor was so pretty, but so comfy. I couldn’t fault it.

Breakfast was included but as I made my way down I got summoned by Sophie and Harriet, who were also staying in the same building, to have a look at their room and give opinions on what to wear. I say summoned. Sophie shouted out the window and I decided I’d rather spend time with them than eating. I felt a little nervous anyway and the last thing I need when feeling a bit nervous is food! Their room was as lovely as ours. It was a slightly different design. It had a little hall and a gorgeous outside terrace space with a glimpse of the stunning view I have spent a lot of this blog wittering on about.

This isn’t a TripAdvisor review – I mean, why be conventional?! But I wanted to explain a bit about the venue as it was really special. It’s not your average hotel, or conference room, or meeting place. It’s way more special than that. I’m looking for an excuse to return as soon as I can!

Find out more about The Fish Hotel here…

To see more about the event, see Karen & Clan and Sophie Callahan’s vlogs.

What to wear for TEDx – the videos!

I’m very excited to be able to share these two videos all about ‘What to wear for TEDx’. Of course, the content and the tips contained within aren’t just limited to TEDx events. In fact, the nuggets of information can be applied to any public event where you’re expecting to speak, present… or you just want to dress in a way that gives you confidence.

I was very, very lucky to have the ears, eyes and advice of my ‘Glam Squad’ aka Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell (Karen & Clan) to help, and was very, very kindly lent some amazing products from Butler Stewart and Hiho Silver. As you’ll see in these videos, there’s a lot more to working out what to wear for a TEDx event than just what you like. There are a lot of factors you need to consider too…

What to wear for TEDx – part 1

 

What to wear for TEDx – part 2

A HUGE thank you to Sophie, Karen, Anna (Butler Stewart), Emma and Michelle (Hiho Silver). And obviously to TEDx for having me.

Read this if… you want to improve your public speaking – TED Talks

TED Talks Public Speaking BooksIn preparation for my TEDx talk at TEDxMalvern, I decided that I needed to up my public speaking game. Not least because I wouldn’t ever say public speaking has been my strongest suit. Just because I don’t do that much of it. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but we all know that the more we do something, the better we get… but making the jump can be scary. As usual, when I want to improve in an area, I head for Amazon. And there I found just the thing to help me improve my public speaking. It’s called TED Talks. This is ‘The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking’, written by Chris Anderson, the Head of TED. Sounds a bit heavy, doesn’t it? Let me assure you that it isn’t at all. It’s a really good read!

What’s the premise of TED Talks?

Well, as the strapline says, this book is TED’s guide to public speaking… and as I was getting ready to give my first TEDx talk, this appealed to me in a big way. The book is broken into sections that look at preparation, what to wear, tools and more. It’s very well written and walks you through the process of preparing for any talk. All the themes discussed would apply to any talk. The main thing about TED and TEDx talks in the time limit- nothing should be over 18 minutes. Obviously THIS might not apply to non-TED and TEDx talks, but that’s a minor tweak…

What will you learn from TED Talks?

Depending on your current skill and confidence level, potentially a lot! Chris, the author, refers to many examples in his book, so you’ll also pick up some really interesting facts and ideas that were disucssed at TED and TEDx, but that’s an aside. The book uses examples to illustrate key points in terms of delivery, tools and preparation. It explains the concept in a conversational and easy to read style… which works for me. More than this, the examples given show something else. That not everyone gets it right all the time. And I honestly found this element hugely reassuring. The advice given around what to do if things go wrong was also very very useful. We all prepare for the best, and I couldn’t agree more, but knowing that people do forget their words and the world doesn’t implode is big. Well, it’s a big win in my world.

Why should you buy TED Talks?

If you have any interest in public speaking, get it. Even if you’re an expert, I believe it’ll make you think and reassure. And if you’re just starting out its a wealth of information and reassurance. What more could you ask for in one paperback?

Have a look at my TEDx talk here. 

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

What I learnt from giving a TEDx TalkIn April, I gave my first TEDx talk at TEDx Malvern. I learnt a HUGE amount in the run up to and during the experience, but I needed a bit of time to reflect before I could write this. I wanted to share with you what I learnt from giving a TEDx talk… it might just help you if you’re planning to give a TEDx talk or if you’re just looking to improve your public speaking.

What I learnt from giving a TEDx talk

For ease, I’m going to pop these in a kind of long bullet point form…

  • Public speaking is not as scary as I thought. I’ve always told myself that public speaking is scary… because I have had a few public speaking brushes before and all made my heart pound a bit. This time, I genuinely wasn’t scared. Which was weird. On the lead up to it I was a little anxious, but from the point I got in the car to make my way there, I really wasn’t…

 

  • I’m not as bad as public speaking as I thought. In my head, I had decided that I was not a gifted public speaker. And to be clear, there is PLENTY of room for improvement, I’m not denying this for a second. But I’m not bad. And the fact I have admitted to myself that I’m not bad has given me a huge confidence boost. Silly, isn’t it? We have the power to change how we feel about something so radically by shifting our perception from awful to ‘not as bad as I thought’. However, saying you’re not as bad as you thought, well, in my case, means I want to go on, learn more and do more. Saying I’m point blank terrible makes me want to run for the hills. So I’m not as bad as I thought. And I am happy with that.

 

  • Break it down. If you think of the whole TEDx talk ‘thing’ as one big chunk, it’s overwhelming. Breaking it down makes me much easier. I thought of it in a number of different ways and tried to work on a bit of it regularly, so what to wear (parts one and two!) was one thing, the draft of the talk, recording the talk, learning and ‘performing’ the talk, writing the cards, preparing the slides, sourcing the images, etc etc. I even broke some of these into bits – so I had a very vague outline for the talk I was giving and then started to fill bits in… and leave bits to get more info on and come back to. If I’d thought ‘right – today I am doing all things TEDx’ I would have come unstuck quickly. Because while I knew who I needed to speak to and needed pics from, getting images takes time… not a long time but with time differences it does. Chipping away at it and breaking it into bitesized chunks was much easier.

 

  • I can do slides. It turns out that I although I have seen a million (slight exaggeration) Powerpoint presentations before, I haven’t actually done one myself. I didn’t realise this until I started working on it and very quickly hated the design options available to me. I hated them so much that I designed every slide in Canva and imported it as an image into Powerpoint. So I don’t do slides in a conventional way, but I can do them.

 

  • Slides should not make up your talk. I watched a lot of talks on Youtube before my TEDx talk and I found one theme in common with what I thought were the best talks. The slides were limited (in some cases there were none), enhanced the talk by adding images/video/key facts, and were clear and easy to read. The ones I disliked the most had the talk on them… I mean, why have someone read something to you from a screen? Of course, some more technical talks benefit from more detailed slides with facts, figures, graphs and charts. Mine wouldn’t have. And although I could have added more slides with more images, I was quite happy with what I did.

 

  • Go with your gut. When I was talking through the slides with my Dad (who, turns out, has done loads of presentations using Powerpoint…) he was pretty sure I was putting over the wrong kind of thing. He said that images weren’t really right for slides. And they should be more dynamic than mine. Well I wanted images and I didn’t want crazy moving parts – it’s just not me. I’d also watched a lot of talks and realised that everyone is different and there’s no ‘right’ way. You do you. So I did me. And I was really pleased with what I’d done.

 

  • What you wear matters. This is something I’m slowly beginning to realise. Your clothes aren’t just about how you look, it’s how they make you feel. I put a fair amount of thought into my outfit (and was ably assisted by Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell) and I was pleased with how I looked. Looking at the pics taken on the night, I was cross with how my shirt creased at the front… I would probably wear something different in style next time because of this, but I felt confident and happy (and it did look really good before an hour’s car journey and an hour sitting down in a theatre!)

 

  • Enjoy it, because it doesn’t really matter. Don’t think I’m being flippant here. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity and TEDx matters a LOT, but I decided that enjoying it, to me, was important. This was also a bit deeper because if I worried myself stupid and told myself that it mattered SO much, I would have been scared of making a mistake. Of stumbling. Of losing my thought. This would make it a lot more likely that I would and, if I did, I would struggle to get back on track. When I decided that I would give it my best shot but, quite rightly, acknowledged that no one was going to die if I messed up, I was able to enjoy it and really think I delivered a much better talk as a consequence.

 

  • Preparation matters. I felt fairly confident in what I was doing for many reasons – and one was the amount of prep I had done. I had had a fairly quite week to make sure I had time to prepare (thanks for the kick in that direction Emma Warren!) but it made a huge difference. I didn’t over rehearse what I was saying but I had a few good run throughs, had everything ready in plenty of time- I’d even allocated time to iron my shirt! Preparing things on every level helped me feel a lot more confidence for my TEDx talk.

 

  • Cheerleaders. For various reasons, I didn’t know anyone at who attended the TEDx talk. There was talk of different people coming with me but I didn’t push the point and it didn’t happen – the talk sold out very quickly too, so that was quite a large factor. But you know what? It didn’t matter, because while no one was sat in the theatre, I have the BEST bunch of cheerleaders who were with me every step of the way on my phone. I had SO many lovely comments come through email, messenger and text during the day and had lots of messages asking how it had gone too. I think I was in the car for about 30 mins replying to everything before I started on my way back. That made me feel incredibly special. Your cheerleaders don’t have to be in the same room… or even in the same country!

 

  • I want to do more of it. A rather unexpected result of my TEDx talk was that I want to do more public speaking… yeah, I was surpised too. As soon as the event had finished and I was outside chatting to some of the attendees, I was approached about giving other talks, so that was nice.

 

  • You need to step beyond your comfort zone to grow. And to get that lovely buzz that’s a mix of pride, achievement and possibility. It’s a nice buzz.

 

  • If plan A doesn’t work out, there’s a load more letters… and if you get stuck, ask for help. I had put a post on my Facebook page asking for a case study element for my talk. Whether I didn’t explain it properly or what, I don’t know, but none of the responses were what I needed. This was a problem as it really illustrated the point. It wasn’t until I was speaking to Sophie Callahan that the idea hit me. And I should add that it was her facial expression that gave it away. See, I was looking for someone in my local area who had connected with someone in a rural location through social media. Of course, the answer was looking me straight in the face – I was the perfect example. You know sometimes people say things are too obvious? Yeah – that.

 

  • You can condition yourself. I started off being nervous and managed to feel excited. This was due to something Emma Warren, my lovely client and friend suggested. In essence, it was when you feel a pang of ‘Oh Christ, what have I done, it’s going to be awful’, do something to change the game. She suggested I rubbed my hands together and said ‘I’m so excited about giving my talk and sharing my knowledge with the people there – it’s going to be great’. Or something like that. Damn me it worked. I only did it twice… and then I struggled to get worried about it. Weird. But it worked!

 

So that’s a snapshot of what I learnt from TEDx. Although I feel that this could have applied to all public speaking and all of the above will definitely help me in the future.

If you’d like to see my TEDx talk, you can have a look at it here. I hope you enjoy it. And HUGE thanks to Jane at Confident Rider and her friend Vivre for helping me illustrate how incredible social media is…