Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Time to Change Public Speaking Training

I travelled to Brighton on the train on Monday, for a Time to Change training day.  T to C, for those of you who don't know, is a charity which works to reduce the stigma around mental health conditions (catchphrase: it's Time to Talk').  It is run jointly by Mind and Rethink and has a fair amount of public funding.  It is a worthwhile cause to be involved with, so I signed up some time ago to be a Time to Change Champion.  This event was right up my street as I am particularly interested in learning how to speak well in public:  I have an engagement coming up, of which more in due course.

Anyhow, I did not come home eloquent, or changed in any other major way.  We were not taught to project our voices, or emit an air of easy confidence, or any other 'tricks' - although I do want to learn these things, I will have to look elsewhere for that sort of an education.  I think it is likely to take longer than a day...

We did consider the strength, skills and knowledge that we already have, and how we can utilise these to speak publicly about our experiences.  We discussed the importance of only saying as much as we feel comfortable with.  We talked about presenters whose styles we admire, from Lauren Laverne of the Culture show to various newsreaders and Sue Baker, the Time to Change director.  The most important thing they had in common, as far as I could make out, was that they are all calm and relaxed while communicating.

The day passed very quickly.  At the end we gave a two minute presentation, and I was suprised by how articulate some (most, in fact) of the other Champions were.  I was self-critical as usual - I tend to speak to an audience in quite an abject manner, almost as if I am pleading with them to like me - I need to take control of a situation far more.  I did read out one of my poems, which I was nervous about, because I realise that reading poetry during a talk can seem a bit desperate, but actually that was the bit that came across best - perhaps in part because I already had it written down.  So I think perhaps I will try reading from a script next time I give a talk - something that feels a little artificial but may in fact suit me best.

Anyway, it was all helpful, and empowering of course.  I went to a new city alone and found my way around - and actually it was more complicated than I had anticipated as there was a tree on the line on the way home, which meant two unscheduled changes, which I managed without a hitch or a concern.  And of course I met some more new and interesting people - I am discovering that I enjoy meeting new people and learning their stories, in fact it is one of the best aspects of my new more active existence.  So far, so fab.

I had my last ever session with the CBT therapist yesterday.  I think that has made it a round dozen in total.  I felt a little emotional saying thanks and goodbye - it has been so helpful having someone to offload to, who I can trust to give me the answers I need.  But I don't want to be dependent on anybody else - it would be too easy to get that way.  And I know that I am heading in the right direction, and that nobody can keep propping me up all the way there - and also that if I do ever need help again, I can self-refer back on to the IAPT programme  (although I may have to wait six months or so for treatment...).  I am hoping, actually, that one day I will be in the position to be able to afford private therapy if I should need it.

What else?  Oh yes, yesterday was my day for talking to the chap whose book I am ghost writing, and that went well too.  He is so grateful for my help, which is touching, and again of course he has a story to tell, and since I am being paid to listen I do so very attentively.  Which is good for me funnily enough - to sit quietly and listen, rather than taking a more active part in the conversation, is something I should do more often.

Enough for now.  Am off out to get my eyelashes tinted.  A vanity which outraged my eldest daughter when I told her last night, 'What do you want to do that for?  That is RIDICULOUS!'  I was shocked by the strength of her reaction.  Anybody would think I was going to have botox.  Or a nose piercing.  Or a tattoo.  But I suppose we all have our own limits - mine is minor cosmetic enhancement but cosmetic surgery must seem just as acceptable to those who do it.  Anyway, I digress.  I really am off out now.   


  1. I've done eyelash tinting, but recently got more adventurous and had my eyebrows and lips tatooed so I don't have to keep applying make-up, which has become a real chore in the past few years. The only problem is that it's expensive, and rather painful. My reaction to the needles was to sneeze continously.

  2. Oooh, I don't like pain, I don't think I could do tattooing. It sounds good though, in so far as it saves time and trouble. I am pleased with my eyelashes, and have now booked in for a Shellac pedicure - not sure what Shellac is but apparently it lasts ages. It must be much easier to be male - they are as vain as us but in a completely different way... x