Next Steps South West (NSSW) is a collaboration of 14 partner universities and colleges throughout Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, funded by the Office for Students. The organisation helps young people navigate their own personal journey to higher education. Across the region, it delivers events and activities designed to educate and inspire young people aged 13-19 years old, and those who influence them, such as parents and carers.
Devon County Outreach Officer for NSSW, Sophie Burgess, enlisted us to help improve her skills and confidence in speaking and presenting. A large part of Sophie’s role is delivering presentations to groups of secondary school pupils, sometimes in class sizes of around 30 and sometimes to entire school assemblies of several hundred.
Sophie took up her post with NSSW in 2018, and from the start she felt nervous and anxious about presenting. Although this eased a little as she became more experienced, Sophie still felt that nerves were hampering her ability to present effectively. She’d speak too quickly, racing through the presentations and ending too soon, while referring to excessive and unwieldy sets of notes or detailed script.
Having elected this as an area for her professional and personal development, Sophie was looking for an accredited CPD training provider and so approached Open Dawes Training.
We ran two training sessions for Sophie, delivered online; all our training, during the Covid-19 pandemic, has moved online.
We talked through with Sophie what her issues and concerns were, and at the start of the training recorded a video of her presenting. We repeated this at the end, so she could see what great progress she had made.
We talked to Sophie about nerves and how to use these to her advantage. We also taught her techniques around breathing and using pauses, to slow down her delivery.
We worked with Sophie on how to plan her presentations, and to use simple bullet points to refer to during delivery, rather than copious notes.
“I would always feel trepidation and a real lack of confidence before presenting, especially to whole school assemblies, although I don’t know where that fear came from,” said Sophie. “The training I did with Open Dawes really helped my confidence, helped me to organise myself more and to condense my notes. It was also reassuring to understand that I shouldn’t expect the training to stop me feeling nervous, but that the training would help me use my nerves to my advantage.”
Sophie said the training has also helped her feel more confident in her work in general. “I am much more likely to speak up in work meetings now, whereas before I might avoid doing so in front of more senior people. My manager has noticed my increased confidence and I will be recommending this training to my colleagues.”
To talk to us about how to improve your presentation and public speaking skills, whatever the size of audience you are speaking to, please get in touch with the team here at Open Dawes Training.
And don't forget to signup to receive one email per month with all of our tips and advice articles/videos from the previous month direct to your inbox.
Enter your name and email address to receive an email once a month with our top tips, advice, and latest articles. Your details will not be used for anything else.