My Journey into Public Speaking
Growing up, I had a very difficult time relating to others and was never truly able to gain inspiration from others. I had a very difficult childhood, consisting of multiple operations, very difficult family members and multiple types of abuse – all of which lead me to a very dark place.
Struggling to relate to others, I somehow grew strength from inside and continued to persevere through some extremely difficult times. It certainly wasn’t easy however, now I have come through the other side, I see the importance of being able to be a role model for others and inspiring them to achieve.
How did it all start?
I have never struggled with projecting confidence, despite really suffering with social anxiety. Public speaking was never a concern of mine and it actually gave me the space to project how I wanted others to see me. Whether I had to give a presentation for school or teach a lesson in Army Cadets, I would never be fazed. People were often shocked at the difference in my personality when I presented and I loved how it made me feel. I was able to speak about my passions and I would love how others would listen.
As a kid, I would often dream of being a teacher being stood in front of a class and being able to inspire students but as time flew by, I changed my career plans. In the Army Cadet Force (ACF), I was praised for my leadership and speaking abilities but was shut down by small-minded and discriminative individuals who weren’t able to accept my differences. When I then left the ACF, I was determined to show them, in my own way, that others would listen and that the world wasn’t as small-minded as they were.
One of my first public speaking opportunities was given to me through the Duke of Edinburgh’s award. I had completed the Gold award partially through the ACF however had finished on my own given my disability. I completed the expedition section in my wheelchair and the local leader was keen to find out more and I explained to him the challenges that I had overcome in order to achieve the award. After a short discussion, he asked whether I would feel comfortable speaking at the local Gold awards presentations to about 300 people and I immediately accepted the challenge.
The presentation itself went extremely well and I was so pleased to see how many young people, parents and guests approached me afterwards to ask more about my story – this was really the start of something.
Following on from that speech, I was able to gain more and more experience with various schools and organisations to become the public speaker that I am today.
I had the privilege of being asked to speak at St James’ Palace and Buckingham Palace on multiple occasions and it was incredible to have the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the young people and inspire them to continue with their journeys.
Topics of Conversation?
Unsurprisingly, and if you’ve been following my blogs/social media platforms for a while, you’ll know that one of the main words I follow my life by is ‘Perseverance.’ I speak mostly about my battles in life and how I have been able to conquer them, especially relating to my health history. I am able to speak regarding specific health issues however please get in contact to discuss this further.
I have vast experience of speaking about LGBT+ issues, especially trans* issues and training, given a close family connection. Whether it’s speaking to teachers, students, parents or organisations, I am able to tailor my service to individual needs. This also ties in nicely with my ability to speak about bullying, including cyber bullying and inclusivity in schools/the workplace for individuals with protected characteristics. So many organisations feel they creating an inclusive environment whereas in reality, they may actually be ostracising those they are trying to support.
I enjoy having the time to connect with the individuals that I speak to so I love to have the opportunity to get involved with the students in schools and be part of their sport/PSHE lessons. I have previously worked closely with schools to organise sports sessions and presentations to be able to inspire the young people to get involved with sport.
Moving forward, I would love the opportunity to speak to more schools and organisations in order to support their learning and development while being able to inspire others to achieve their goals.
I am able to tie in my presentations with my national and international competitions so please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you feel your school or organisation could benefit from my public speaking!