A Return to Public Speaking…

It’s been a while since I’ve flexed my public speaking muscles, as it were. Granted, I delivered a talk to members of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Youth Advisory Board last month, but today saw me deliver a talk to a different audience at NDCS’ Right for the Future conference.

Liam delivering a talk about transitions at the Right for the Future conference in London. Photo: Rosie Eggleston.

With the audience being made up of mainly healthcare and educational professionals, the event brought people together to discuss and share ideas around deaf young people and their transitions through education. I was asked to help deliver a technology workshop, introduce the charity’s CEO (no pressure!) and sit on a panel, as well as give a short five-minute talk about my school experience.

I won’t explore my talk in too much detail, but I thought I’d explore some points raised further. In particular, it’s essential that information about a deaf young person is shared within schools as soon as possible when it comes to transitions, as nothing is worse than the young individual having to repeat their support needs when they start at a new school.

This is similar to support workers sharing documentation to make it easier for a deaf young person to apply for support in their next educational establishment. All of this should be done with enthusiasm and politeness, as any frustration with having to deal with a deaf person’s support requests will only diminish that person’s confidence.

On the topic of confidence, it’s important that both teachers and fellow classmates are deaf aware, as one is essential for the person’s education – the other for their social skills.

I’d encourage you all to have a read of the #RightForTheFuture hashtag on Twitter, which includes a lot of good points raised during the conference. Thanks to NDCS for inviting me down, I had a fantastic day.


Post-adrenaline amnesia

I wonder if other public performers have experienced this particular phenomenon.

As I stand on the red spot, ready to give a TEDx talk, a combination of others’ expectation and my desire to deliver a good form of entertainment is enough to banish the nerves and summon the adrenaline. What follows is a focus on delivering the task at hand, with no time for panicking about how exactly said task is presented to the crowd.

Adrenaline is a bizarre auto-pilot. The peripheral present is forgotten as I look towards the end goal. Such a distraction from what’s currently unfolding creates this sense of amnesia whereby once the experience is over, one can remember the beginning and end, but never the ‘during’ unless I’m able to remind myself later.

How did it go?

It’s a particularly interesting question to be asked by fellow TEDxYouth speakers after having lost yourself in the moment. Naturally, my perfectionism/pessimism led to me questioning whether I had talked for too long and wondering why I said the words ‘the important thing’ far too many times than was necessary.

Today, as I’m told that my TEDx talk is now available online, I’m met with a strong feeling of excitement – not least because it’s finally out for the wider world to see, but because I can watch the talk back without the adrenaline I experienced at the time. The memories of the day itself come flooding back as I watch myself talk about societal labels. As much as I am feeling a sense of pride as I see myself on my computer screen, the fading of my ‘post-adrenaline amnesia’ offers a blissful euphoria of its own.

I guess this is why people take photos…

In Development…

This week has been one of progression. It started earlier this week with me making a return to public speaking. The last time I had to give a presentation to someone, it was in May last year, when I went to Leeds to give a presentation about myself and my time as a member of the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Youth Advisory Board. Although reading a book by TED’s Chris Anderson provided me with some reassurance, I was still fairly new to the experience.

The presentation still went really well and it was great talking to the young people there, but I had certainly improved when I gave a talk to Central Bedfordshire Council’s Youth Voice on Tuesday this week.

It was a talk on social media, fake news and campaigning, and I was quite flattered that I was asked to chat about the subject (after all, I hardly see myself as an expert on these). Despite that, as I worked my way through the presentation slides, I could sense my own confidence and was able to talk at great length about the three issues. I suppose on this occasion, I was able to chat more about Twitter than I was about myself – but I think that came down to preparing the presentation in advance.

Overall, it was a great experience, the conference itself was great fun, and I even walked away with a greater idea about what my dissertation for next year, too.

It was also on that day that I was offered the role of Editor at the University of Lincoln’s student newspaper, The Linc. After spending the past year as News Editor at the paper, it’s an honour to take the next step up and accept the offer. I look forward to working with a great team next year.

Speaking of third year, it’s as my second year comes to a close that once again, I reflect on what my university experience so far has given me. Already, I have done amazing things with the community radio station in Lincoln and the student newspaper. I’ve applied the skills I’ve learned (such as shorthand, learning about politics and making FOI requests) outside of university and they have given me new opportunities as well.

As my final year approaches, there’s no doubt at all that it was the right decision, but I continue to be amazed at just how quickly time flies.

Review: ‘TED Talks’ by Chris Anderson

Ideas fascinate everyone. For me, thought-provoking talks and television programmes create this new sense of excitement. An initial notion shared with so many others can have unlimited potential – it can spark a chain reaction of new ideas, creativity and inspiration. It’s a fascinating and mesmerising idea, and is one explored in-depth in Chris Anderson’s guide to public speaking, TED Talks.

Everyone finds at least one concept of public speaking terrifying, whether it’s remembering the whole talk, or this sense of judgement that comes from talking to a large audience. Thankfully, Chris’ experience with many TED talks has helped him to understand what works in a talk, and what doesn’t. Written in a clear path from preparation to the talk itself, the book breaks down the complex idea of public speaking into something everyone can understand. Funnily enough, accessible ideas is something mentioned towards the end of the book, and something which can only inspire a reader to share their knowledge with others.

I was only halfway through the book when I was asked to do a talk in Leeds (which I mentioned here). Whilst I hadn’t read all of TED Talks, Anderson’s passion and conversational tone in the book definitely helped when it came to the presentation itself. As well as sharing skills and advice, it’s the book’s focus on ideas which is really exciting.

In particular, the fact that we regularly share opinions and ideas with others also goes to show that this book isn’t just beneficial from a public speaking perspective (a point which is raised by Adam Grant on the back of the hardback edition). If you love sharing perspectives – be it offstage or onstage – then TED Talks is the book which can excite you, inspire you and give you the confidence to do so.

Rating: 5/5

What are your thoughts on public speaking? Have you ever seen a TED Talk? Comment below!


With thanks to TED: Public Speaking in Leeds

I’ve never had any problems when it comes to talking about myself or hobbies to other people, but for a lot of people – including me – public speaking is still a mighty beast to conquer.

A few weeks back, I was asked by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) to speak to their Youth Advisory Board about deafness, being a deaf radio presenter and being on the YAB last year (read more about that here).

I was delighted, and conveniently, I had bought a public speaking book off Amazon a few days before. In reference to the title, this book is Chris Anderson’s Ted Talks, which certainly helped give me some tips and confidence when it came to my presentation.

Aside from feeling slightly nervous, it went really well. Thanks so much to NDCS and to the YAB for having me and asking interesting questions!

Have you done public speaking before? What are your techniques? Comment below!