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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. 

 

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…

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking…

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking…and before you get too excited, I’ve never actually met Sir Ken Robinson… although I would love to…

How Sir Ken Robinson helped me with public speaking

You may remember a little while ago I gave a TEDx talk – it was actually TEDx Malvern on 25th April ’18. I was delighted to be invited to speak and said yes quickly. And then I remembered something. I’m not all that good at public speaking. I mean, I’m far from awful- but it’s not something I do all that much of. This slight niggle somewhat grew until I really started to believe I was a horrific public speaker. I’ve given lectures before, and that hasn’t even really bothered me – I’ve enjoyed it and it’s made me think, but I haven’t been overly worried about delivering such a thing. But this? Well, this felt very different.

Why is public speaking so scary?

I guess it’s a combination of a few things. It’s the worry of making a fool of yourself and forgetting what you’re talking about. It’s the worry of letting people down who invited you to speak at their event. It’s the fear of the unknown and the anxiety connected to the unknown. It’s feeling under prepared (because there is ALWAYS more you can do). It’s what to wear (genuine thing for me – I’ve blogged about what to wear at TEDx too!). And then it’s the detail. Should you memorise your talk? How many slides should you do? How should you learn your talk? What’s the best way? What if people don’t get what you want them to from it? I mean, what if you’re just not that interesting?! Yep. Public speaking is really scary. Well, it could be.

Reality check

I was getting myself a little stressed about this. I am all for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and, as I said, giving lectures, workshops and smaller events doesn’t phase me. I do a Facebook Live once a week on my Facebook page and can think on my feet. And I ALWAYS have something to say. I know the subject inside and out. I mean, it was about social media and I am a complete social media bore… so that wasn’t the issue.

I bought a book – actually, it’s a really good book that I’m finishing a blog about this for next week – it’s called TED Talks and it’s ‘The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking’, written by Chris Anderson – the head of TED. If you’re looking to up your public speaking game- get this book (and, obviously, read my review of it too!). The book gave lots of advice and was also rather reassuring when it came to stumbles and mistakes. How to deal with them and no lose your mind mainly. That made me feel a lot better. Having a plan for if my mind went blank was very reassuring. I’m OK with things breaking – as in- I was never hugely worried about the slides not working as they were there to enhance my talk rather than play a leading role. But having a plan was good.

And you know what else? If I messed up in a big way. If I stood on the stage and couldn’t find a word in my head to speak… what is the worst thing that’s going to happen? I’d look a bit of an idiot (if you’ve seen me trying to parallel park or negotiate with my twin toddlers you’ll know that I’m pretty well versed in this art), I’d be embarrassed, my ego would take a battering. All true. Would anyone die? Nope. Would it mean I could never work again? Nope. Would it mean I wouldn’t see my family/friends again? Nope. So really low risk. And what if I nailed it or, at least, didn’t make a fool of myself? Now, that’s a worth the effort…

And how does Sir Ken Robinson feature in this?

I was speaking to Karen McConnell and Sophie Callahan – my Glam Squad – about one particular wobble. I think it was that I had decided I needed to learn all my talk off by heart, like a robot. I have never ever done any lecture prep or anything like his. Ever. I tend to have bullet points and ideas that I want to explore – mental prompts, but I don’t learn anything parrot fashion. I much prefer a little ad libing around a framework. Although this is just one way to give a speech, I was concerned that the reading-off-a-sheet idea just looks nasty – and it does… so I settled on cards. Anyway, I was speaking to the ladies and Karen urged me to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk– are schools killing our creativity. I’ll be honest with you – the title didn’t appeal at first. I am interested in education, but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear about at that second. Nevertheless, Karen is rarely wrong and she gets me, so I pressed play and we were off.

Now, education in a TED talk format might sound a little dry – hell – I didn’t even want to press play. But I urge you to watch Sir Ken’s talk. In my mind it’s a masterclass. Not only was I completely hooked a few moment in with his relaxed and conversational style, I laughed out loud more than once, I could have listened to him speak for hours… and I have made four more people watch it since and all have has the same reaction.

Obviously I’m not talking about education and I am not half as amusing as Sir Ken Robinson, but it taught me a few things:

  • Relax
  • Chatty is good
  • Making people smile or laugh doesn’t detract from the message
  • Approachable is good
  • People will root for you if you give them a reason

Also, if you watch the talk, you’ll see that (well, if you analyse it to the level I have!), it’s not word perfect. And by that, I mean it actually is. If Sir Ken had learnt it verbatim and reguritated it parrot style without feeling, emotion or humour… it would have been a very hard 15 minutes to listen to. The human quality, the jokes, the chatty style made me feel he was sharing a thought and an idea and I was literally hanging on his every word. I’m not saying he didn’t rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again – I am sure he did- but he didn’t lose his style.

And that’s what Sir Ken Robinson taught me about public speaking… from just watching a Youtube clip.

Autheticity rules, and while some talks work when someone has memorised each and every word, some would lose their soul… especially if the speaker didn’t believe in what they were saying or felt disconnected from it.

 

What to wear for a TEDx talk – part 2

What to wear for TEDxToday, we’re looking at what to wear from the waist down, when giving a TEDx talk. If you didn’t see the first post about what to wear on your top half, have a look here – what to wear for a TEDx talk – part 1. But now we’re onto shoes, boots and trousers.

Trousers or a skirt?

I think this goes back to the comfort angle again. Some people are a lot more comfortable in a skirt, some trousers. I’m going for the latter. Actually, I’m going for dark blue skinny jeans because I like them a lot. Some people might wince at the thought of jeans for this kind of talk and I would agree if they weren’t smart. But they are. They are hole free, they’re a dark colour… and I like them. So I’m wearing jeans.

This was one of my non-negotiables when I was talking to Sophie and Karen initially (the ‘Glam Squad’). It was going to be jeans. I can wear skirts and dresses, I do occasionally, but I’m a lot more comfortable in jeans.

Footwear

Ah… footwear.

You might remember for ‘what to wear for TEDx -part 1’ that my height is a bit of a thing for me. Well, one that I don’t want to draw further attention to. So flat shoes. They’re all I own to be honest. So that was a given. But there were more considerations too…

  • Comfort – always
  • Smartness
  • Soles
  • Colour

So- comfort. Why? There will be walking and standing involved. I have instructions on where to park and where the venue is, but I want to wear something that will mean wherever I park, I can happily walk to the venue without developing a limp. This isn’t just because badly fitting shoes hurt, but you know when you’re in pain and it’s all you can think about? I need to give a talk and I really need to focus in on that… not if my feet hurt. They won’t…

Smartness. Is that even a word? But yes, the footwear choice has to be smart. I have plenty of boots and shoes that are not smart, that I walk the dog in, but that’s not right. No one wants a trail of mud across the stage.

Soles. Soles need to have some form of grip, whether that’s caused by wear (in the form of a leather sole) or rubber. I’m not exactly sure on the stage surface but I really don’t want to be landing on my face/backside mid talk… it would distract for the overall message a little.

Colour. It goes without saying that I need this to coordinate with everything else.

So I have two contenders. Both from Fairfax & Favor

Henleys

I bought these at last year’s Badminton Horse Trials and love them. They’re made from suede and have really good rubber soles that are grippy but not clunky, so that’s a big win. I like the plated cord detailing, the casual yet smart overall look… and did I mention the comfort?! They are so comfy but also tick every other box. My Henleys are navy (they do come in other colours too!) so will coordinate with my jeans really well as they’re also that kind of colour. My gut feeling (and from talking to the Glam Squad!) is that I will wear these in the end.

Fairfax & Favor Regina BootsReginas

These were always a contender… actually, I thought that these were the only contender for a while before we got into outfit detail. I wear these a lot and I love them. The only thing about them is they’re tan, so they make quite a statement without really meaning to. This works really well if a stronger colour is being worn on the top, or something with tan/brown detail because it carries the colour through. One of my jacket options is grey – so they won’t really work with this – but the other option is a green tweed with orange detail, so they could look really smart with that.

The other great thing about these Fairfax & Favor boots is that you can change the colour of the tassels to bring a look together. So, if I went for this and the green blazer, I could switch the self coloured tan suede tassels with forest green. Or I could pick up the pink or orange from the tweed using tassels too. When I wear these I usually switch the self coloured tassel for the plum or navy to tie in with the rest of what I’m wearing.

Bag

This isn’t so much of a discussion as a statement! I will want to take my phone, purse, copy of my talk, cards for the talk… maybe even a back up of my slides, you know, in case, so I need something sizable to carry this in. So I’ll take my trusty Fairfax & Favor Windsor… and that’s in navy too.

Fairfax & Favor Windsor HandbagI’ve had this bag a while and I love it. I don’t use it all the time (I have twin toddlers!!) and it lives in its dust cover when it’s not in use, but I really do love it.

 

So that’s what I’m wearing for my TEDx Malvern talk. As I hope you can see the clothing and footwear choices are quite considered. I think when you’re working out what to wear for a TEDx talk – or any important talk or event – there are lots of considerations to take into account. And some that you don’t tend to think of in everyday life.

Another key thing to note is that while it doesn’t really matter what you wear – as in – it’s not a fashion show – it kind of does too. You want what you wear to represent you properly. You want it to be smart enough to show you respect your audience and the time they’ve given to hear you talk, but still you. And you want it to be comfortable so you don’t spend the whole time faffing around with in. You also want it to allow your focus, and your audience’s focus, to be on what you’re saying and the idea you’re sharing. That’s why you’re there, afterall.

If you want to see any of the items above or from my ‘what to wear for TEDx – part 1‘ blog in more detail, then pop over to Instagram and check out the ‘Speaker Style’ story highlight. There will also be additional non-speaker related information about some of my favourite pieces in future blogs.

A huge thanks to Sophie Callahan and Karen McConnell for their help in getting me to think about what I wear and working with me (and all my quirks).

My talk is at TEDxMalvern on Wednesday 25th April.

What to wear for a TEDx talk – part 1

What to wear for a TEDx talkSo, today we’re delving into what to wear for a TEDx talk a bit more, in light of my TEDx Malvern talk that’s fast approaching. Today I’m actually going to focus on the top half. I was going to do top, middle and bottom but it felt a bit too ‘The Price Is Right’ so I went for top and bottom. I probably didn’t need to explain that. I might have shown my age a bit. You know, with Michael Barrymore? No – let’s crack on…

What to wear for a TEDx talk – the top half

In this blog, I’m talking tops, blazers, jackets, ponchos, shirts and jewellery.

If you haven’t see my first blog about how to dress for a TEDx talk, then you can follow the link and have a read. It introduces ‘the Glam Squad’ without who I would probably be sat in a corner rocking. They had a really tricky brief.. mainly because I’m a complete nightmare when it comes to clothes, but to recap on a few things before we carry on…

  • The background of the stage will be black
  • The talk will be filmed
  • I’m ‘aware’ of my height and don’t wish to look any taller
  • I am rather conscious of my stomach area (I blame my children) and would like to avoid any attention being drawn to that

On top of this, I think when you’re doing any form of public speaking, meeting people for the first time, presenting a professional, you want to look ‘right’. This doesn’t mean a suit. It doesn’t mean black. It means smart but, more importantly, authentically you.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m wearing something I feel awkward in, the day/event doesn’t feel good. You know when you’re made to go to weddings and social events and you wear things that make you feel odd but you think you have to? Yep, I’m talking about that. And I for one am done with feeling awkward because of what I’m wearing. Of course, the people who have come to see the TEDx talk, well, anyone who has given up their precious time to see any talk, deserves respect. You should make an effort. They have given up their most valuable commodity and while you need to plan and prep what you’re going to say, I also think it’s important to show effort in your appearance. But not at the expense of feeling odd, because you just won’t do your best work. But there’s a happy medium. And that’s what the ‘Glam Squad’ – Karen and Sophie – and I had in mind.

The top

We talked about the top… layer one if you will. There was the stomach issue to contend with, but apart from that it was pretty fair game.

I’ve always loved the Joules Rosamund Top and the shape of the neckline and the way the shirt falls ticked a lot of boxes. Each season they have different prints and there have been some completely gorgeous ones in the past (I mean, I’m cross I didn’t buy them then!), but that’s just life! At the time of writing this, there are three prints available in the Rosamund: Blue Bird Blossom, Cream Dog Walkers and Navy Poppy. They’re all lovely, but the cream one did it for me. I also felt that this option would contrast enough with the jacket options I was looking at but wouldn’t compete. The hemline was also nice as it worked tucked in or hanging outside trousers… some shirts work much better tucked in, but this is really adaptable. So that was on the possible pile.

Next up was a top from Boden. Karen suggested something with my brand colour in, which is maroon. Until I spent most of a weekend looking at maroon tops, I didn’t realise how many different colour maroons there were! They vary hugely from proper red to deep and dark, like red wine. I much prefer the wine end of the spectrum… I’m a bit pale for full on red. Anyway, after a lot of searching, I found two possibles on Boden’s site and they were both on sale. Yay. By the time I pulled my finger out one was available in my size. Egged on my Karen and Sophie it was ordered and appeared two days later. The top in question was Aurora and I picked Black Forest as a colour. They also did/do (depending on when you read this!) a really lovely green that I’m tempted to buy too, but that’s another story! The main body is jersey fabric, it has a simple round collar and semi-sheer sleeves with a spot design. Is it something I would have normally looked at? Nope. But when Karen suggested the colour choice, that was my focus and it made me think outside the box. The colour is absolutely lovely and although a touch more pinky than my maroon, it feels like it’s very much from the same family. It’s very different to the Joules shirt, but really nice.

Last but not least, the third contender was a navy and white striped shirt from Crew Clothing. This was, again, in their sale section, but we all thought that the vertical stripes would be slimming and that navy and white is a classic combination.

What to wear for a TEDx talkThe jacket

We discussed jackets, blazers, coats, capes and ponchos for a while. Now, as I have said before, comfort is important to me… so that was at the forefront of any decision. In order to address the stomach issue, any top jacket/cape/poncho would need to be of a suitable length to finish below my waistline, and this would also help to soften the height issue. Nothing says ‘you’re tall’ than a jacket that looks too short!

We discussed different ideas and agreed that the blazer format was best. This is smart and shows a serious-ness, which you want. Professional but when teamed with other garments, gives a relaxed and friendly feel while still showing respect.

When we agreed on this, I called on my friends at Butler Stewart and they very kindly agreed to loan me two different jackets. Both are cut to the Jemma pattern, which is single breasted with two buttons. I’ve always loved the shape of this jacket, and the length too. Its cut means it looks great buttoned up or unbuttoned, and the shape of the jacket when buttoned means  you can still see the top underneath, which is nice.

Anna said she would send me two different options – both the Jemma Jacket, but two different colours: Pearl Grey and Willow Green. Both colours are really lovely and completely my taste. The grey will clearly work well with stronger colours (like the Boden top and the Crew Clothing shirt), but the Willow Green has orange and pink detail in the tweed, which will also work well with the Boden top and also the cream Joules shirt too. I also liked the fact that Butler Stewart is a ‘friend’ and Anna, the lady behind it, is a member of the Small & Supercharged group. Wearing a tweed also gives a strong nod to my countryside roots, but the way this tweed is would mean it works really well in a more ‘corporate’ setting too. A MASSIVE thank you to Butler Stewart for letting me loan these jackets.

The jewellery

I’ll put you out of your misery – I’ll be wearing Hiho Silver!

As you know, I work with Hiho Silver, own lots of the pieces they make and love the range. Emma, the MD, kindly said I could loan anything I like, so I chatted to the Glam Squad. I asked to borrow the Long Chained Cherry Roller (three and five roller versions), a Bobbly Necklace, and a circle necklace too, which Michelle (the Countess of Contentment) sent with two chains. I do also have my own Double Chained Cherry Roller that I wear all the time too. As for my wrists, I always was an old sterling silver bangle I was given as a gift by my grandmother (no idea of its origin), a Springy Bangle, Cherry Roller and Foxtail. I also have a Foxy Roller that comes out on special occasions. Ring wise, my Snaffle Ring never leaves me, and neither does my wedding and engagement ring. Last up – ears. I always wear diamond studs. They were my other grandmother’s and I wear them all the time. I kept them ‘for best’ for years and then decided that was a rubbish policy.

So, why did I chose the pieces I did?

The Long Chained Cherry Rollers were chosen so we could experiment with jewellery over the top of a shirt. I’ve seen the five roller one look gorgeous over chunky knits as well as shirts and tops, so that was a must. The shorter one makes a great addition too and can be worn on its own or layered with the longer one.

What to wear for a TEDx talkThe Bobbly is a true statement piece. I adore this piece of jewellery. It’s a great weight, is beautifully made, moves is a really lovely way and is thick enough to be seen from afar. I like the detail of the balls and the links and I like the story behind it too.

The ring necklaces were something I asked for at the last minute. As I was sending over my list, I recalled an image I had seen from a recent Fairfax & Favor shoot where the ring necklace was used on a longer chain and I just loved it. I thought it might work with the two shirt options because of the ‘v’ shaped neckline that could be created… well, that was the thought.

Although the Long Chained Cherry Rollers have rose gold plating detail, silver is my colour really. My wedding and engagement rings are white gold, and I’ve just always been drawn to silver. I love the rose gold detailing on the Cherry Rollers and my Foxy Bangle, but I am more comfortable with silver being the key colour. Again, you have to feel comfortable. I’ve never been a huge fan of yellow gold – I don’t think it really goes with my complexion…

All my hand and wrist jewellery is special to me, so that was always going to come with me! I’ll talk you through all of those pieces another time! You can find out more about the story behind the Cherry Roller here though!

And if you’ve got to here – WELL DONE YOU! I would love to hear your thoughts on what to wear for public speaking… what do you feel comfortable in?

 

 

 

How to… dress for a TEDx talk… well, what I’m doing anyway!

How to dress for a TEDx talkAs you may have seen in a previous post, I’m a speaker at TEDx Malvern later this month. I’m completely honoured and excited to have been asked and actually can’t wait to give my talk. I mean, any form of public speaking, especially something like TEDx, does get the heart pumping a bit faster and give the tummy butterflies a work out, but I really am excited about it.

Why does how to dress for a TEDx talk matter?

Bizarrely, the bit that has caused me the most ‘discomfort’ is what I am planning to wear. I know. Does it even matter? Well, yes, the more I have delved into this area, the more I really believe it does. So much so, that I have ‘recruited’ a ‘Glam Squad’ to help me dress for my TEDx talk, and will be putting together a fair amount of content around the subject. Yes, I’ll be looking at how to dress for a TEDx talk, but I’m hoping that the insight that I can produce (well, the Glam Squad can!) will help anyone who is planning to do something that’s a bit more public than they’re used to. If it’s public speaking, attending an event, meeting new people, networking – whatever, what you wear matters. But not just on a superficial level. It’s actually about the way it makes you feel, and that’s something I am really focusing on for my TEDx talk, and one of the things that has been at the front on my mind when deciding how to dress for my TEDx talk.

Meet the ‘Glam Squad’

I titled our Facebook Messenger chat ‘Glam Squad’ and it’s stuck (for me anyway!!) but I wanted to introduce you to two ladies who have been a massive massive help in helping me put together outfit ideas. The first is Karen McConnell (of KA Equestrian and Karen & Clan), and the second is Sophie Callahan (of, well, Sophie Callahan!).

About Karen 

Karen is a mum of two, she’s horsey, she has a dog, she’s a Toggi blogger and has really exceptional taste in clothes. Both of Karen’s blogs show this. Her equestrian style is best showcased through KA Equestrian, and the clothes she wears when not on the yard are showcased through her lifestyle blog, Karen & Clan. Karen’s style, for me at least, ticks a lot of boxes. It always looks well thought through and everything just works. The clothing is practical (OK, unless she’s off out somewhere swanky, then it’s full on glamour!) and by that I mean she can actually walk, play with the kids and move about when wearing it. I see many, many gorgeous outfits and clothes on my travels but, for me, it has to be practical. I always like to feel that I can be ‘useful’ if needed, and if I’m wearing something I can barely move it, I’ll struggle to drive, let alone anything else! Comfort is a word that makes me think of pyjamas and hoodies, but when I say comfortable here, I mean it as an extension of the above. Comfort is a big deal in my world. If I wear a top that’s an inch too short, I will spend the whole time pulling it down. The same applies with every other item of clothing too – I’ll fiddle and faff with it constantly. This isn’t sit on the sofa comfort, it’s more a smart comfort. I feel Karen does this so well.

About Sophie

Sophie is an absolute diamond too, and I’ve always loved the way she dresses. She’s best known for her photography – well, I say best known, she’s also very well known as an equestrian and country lifestyle blogger and vlogger!

There are many similarities between Sophie and Karen’s overall style vibe in many ways – practical as well as pretty. Sophie tends to wear jeans a lot (same as me!) and she has curves that she freely admits/blogs about. Since having my children, I’m more conscious then ever about certain areas, mainly my stomach, so having Sophie’s knowledge of how to dress curves well is a huge help to me. If you saw Sophie’s blog last year about what she was wearing for HOYS, you’ll find out a lot more about her style, and you’ll see why I wanted her as part of the Glam Squad too.

Both these ladies have been a HUGE help. They have dealt with me sending pics of things I’ve seen and liked at various times of the day and night, chatted through colours and ideas, accepted my many (many) quirks and been very accepting on the areas I want to hide/not draw attention to. I am going to go into this in more detail in the blogs to follow. And I see the irony that I am quite literally highlighting the areas I want to hide, but what I’ve come to realise is that we all have these quirks. I think both Karen and Sophie’s figures are fab- enviable in fact – but both have areas that they’re not as confident about. And they address this by being careful about the clothing that they pick. I tend to huff and puff, get cross about it all and revert to something that has tent like qualities. Sure, this hides a lot of issues, but creates another in that it increases my overall mass by a huge amount. Which is not what anyone really wants to do!

What was the brief?

I spoke to Sophie and Karen about helping me when I first found out about the talk. They’re both clients and friends and I respect their opinion. We also have a relationship that means they can tell me that I’m wrong and be completely honest. And that’s what I need. I need people whose opinion I trust and I can be honest with. Because I have pretty strong opinions too.

I’m not sure either of them realised just how ‘quirky’ I could be when it comes to what I wear.

So, the TEDx talk will be filmed, I’ll be speaking against a black background, and it will be in front of an audience of people, on a stage. That’s the easy bit.

As for how to dress for the TEDx talk… the girls had some criteria to work with…

  • I’m tall – 6ft tall in fact, and although this is something I clearly can not change, it’s not something I’m hugely comfortable with. Some styles and cuts elongate and make you look taller, that was something to avoid.
  • My stomach – yep – I’m not sure I was that thrilled with my whole stomach area before, but after having twins it’s certainly not an area I’m very pleased with. OK, that sounds harsh, it looked after two tiny humans for nine months, so I can’t be too cross at it, but it’s not toned or flat. Again, I’m OK with this day to day, but I wouldn’t want anything to particularly draw attention to this area. So they had to contend with that too.
  • I’m pale. I have pale skin, darkish hair, and I am not confident when it comes to the application of make up. So the colours picked need to work with what I affectionately refer to as a ‘pasty’ complexion.
  • Jeans. I made it very clear from very early on that I was planning to wear jeans. I can do dresses (just!), I can do skirts, but I am 100% more confident if I’m wearing jeans. Maybe it’s something to do with being useful? They’re dark and smart and skinny in appearance. But they were pretty much a non negotiable.

See, I bet you thought the ladies had an easy time, didn’t you?

I’ll be creating a variety of different content over the next few weeks to show you how I’m dressing for my TEDx talk and why, some of the lovely products I’ve borrowed, what I’ve bought and more. I have some gorgeous pieces to show you and I think you’ll love them too. So here’s to our little journey about how to dress for a TEDx talk!

An exciting announcement about TEDxMalvern…

Over the weekend I announced that I have been asked to speak at TEDxMalvern‘s event next month. To say I’m excited is an huge understatement. I’ve known about this for a while now but had to keep it quiet until the full speaker line up was announced. You can find out more about TEDxMalvern here.

What is TEDx?

TEDx talks are a relation of TED talks, which are talks aimed to help support, educate and inspire people through ‘ideas worth spreading’. TEDx talks are independently organised talks that follow TED’s ethos, but are organised by people who have had to apply for a license. The ‘x’ denotes that the talk is independently organised. All talks are under 18 minutes – the point is that these are short, powerful talks designed to share an idea

If you haven’t been to a TED or a TEDx talk, don’t worry, TEDx and TED talks are organised globally. But what’s even better is that you can enjoy these talks from your living room as there’s an extensive library of TED and TEDx talks on TEDx’s YouTube channel.

I have to say that I have spent quite a bit of time on the YouTube channel above, and others connected to TED too. I’ll warn you now and say it’s a bit like going down a rabbit hole because you’ll watch one, think ‘wow, that’s amazing’, and then you’ll click on the next and so on. I love the fact that the talks are short too… because you feel like you’re getting a concentrated version of the passion that person has, and the information is the creme de la creme relating to that subject.

…but I digress…

So, what’s TEDxMalvern about?

TEDxMalvern this year is connected to the theme ‘Thoughts for the Future’ and takes place on April 25th in Malvern. I’m delighted to be speaking at the event alongside Revathi Timms (Executive Director, Avatar Enterprise Ltd) and Ross Renton (Pro Vice Chancellor Students, University of Worcester). I’ll be speaking about social media (I know, that’s not that surprising!) and more specifically the power of social media in the rural setting, Ross Renton will be speaking about student expectations of university and Revathi Timms will be speaking about 3D printing. I’m very, very excited to be delivering my talk, but I’m also really looking forward to listening to Revathi and Ross’s talks too.

Over the next few weeks, I will be creating some blog and video content around ‘big’ talks. As you can imagine, there will be a twist, and I really hope you enjoy it.

I’ll be doing my best to document my prep for this talk on my social media channels, so please do make sure you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you want to join the journey.

Now, if you’re interested in TEDx or TEDxMalvern in particular, follow this link to TEDxMalvern, or follow Dr Adrian Burden who’s half of the TEDxMalvern organising team on Twitter too.

If you have any questions about TED or TEDx, do get in touch and I’ll do my very best to point you in the right direction. I would advise you to subscribe to the TED and TEDx YouTube channels though. They’re incredible!