Hayley shares her personal stories of feeling shy, socially anxious, ‘not good enough’ and fearfully avoiding the good things in life. Growing her confidence through coaching, gradually stretching her comfort zone and connecting with others, she now uses everything she has learned to help other people grow their confidence in her role as a coach. Hayley is passionate about connecting people with similar stories and creating safe, supportive spaces to make friends and try new things. Hayley dreams of a time when all of the strengths, skills and goodness in ‘quiet’ is recognised and appreciated as readily as being bold, gregarious, and comfortable in the spotlight is right now.
If you couldn’t make Quiet's first Speaking Space gathering in March, you might be wondering how it went, and you'll definitely want to know about future events! Because the best way to grow your confidence speaking, is to practise in a friendly space just like this!
So, what was it like?
To start with, there was tea, biscuits and quiet chatter amongst people who all seemed to find something in common. It was wonderful to see everyone looking so comfortable (I'm sure the warm and cosy feel of Cafe Chaos helps - it's the perfect venue for us!)
We did some short introductions with 'pass cards' to hand if someone wanted to skip this one. Those that wanted to speak all shared what their favourite thing is. Chocolate and cake were very popular. For me, it was Little Bugger (that'll be my cat and work-from-home buddy, who's actually pretty well behaved, but there was that one time he ate the gerbil...)
Volunteering to practise talks
The first talk at the first gathering of Cornwall's first speaking club was from me. (Now, stay with me here. We're not all speeches like some other speaking clubs. We're all about choices and small steps so read on my lovelies!) I spoke about my reasons for creating the space, sharing my own personal challenges speaking in public; I was the quiet one that would be bright red, heart racing; stumbling over whispered words -and that's only IF I didn't freeze completely (ever had you're mind go totally blank when panic sets in?). What I've noticed is that it's like we're just expected to be able to do this 'speaking thing'. We're not taught how or given the space to make mistakes. And if we happen to get into the habit of avoiding it, the only times we practise speaking are when the stakes are high, like when we're competing for a job in an interview. I describe it as jumping into the deep end before you've learnt to swim. And I'm seeing the Speaking Space as the shallow end - your training pool. It's the place where we can push the limits of our comfort zones and when we do make mistakes, there aren't any consequences.
Next up, Stacie and Caroline both choose to use the space to practise talks. Caroline spoke about the importance of putting yourself out there and having a go. She won't mind me saying she had a little wobble and almost used her pass card, but then found the courage to stretch her comfort zone with us.
Stacie will soon be doing a speech at her graduation. She recorded her talk on creativity and mental health so she could see what she comes across like and how she might improve. Turns out, she was pleasantly surprised! Stacie has shared her talk with us in a blog post, explaining how she felt during the talk and then watching herself later (isn't it interesting how we think we look one way, but other people see something different?).
We finished up with a chat about why everyone had come along, what their personal challenges and aims were, and how the sessions could be run to help everyone achieve what they want. Starting as quiet table chats, it soon became a group discussion and I took away bundles of paper and post-its full of super-helpful feedback!
Growing your confidence in speaking
We all have different confidence levels depending on the situation, and you told us that the space needs to provide you with opportunities to practise various types of speaking and work towards your own personal comfort zone stretch. For some of us, this might be making small talk one to one. For others, it’s speaking up in a group. It could be doing a talk with all of us as your audience. Or simply sharing the space with new people might be stretching enough at times. Sharing tips was also a priority for you and this is a really great idea considering the knowledge we have collectively.
What does the Speaking Space look like?
We spend a little time sharing our best tips with each other. Maybe you’ve tried something that worked well for you before, or maybe you’ll do a little google beforehand. We decide on a topic to cover in the previous gathering so you’ll have plenty of time to think about this.
You have a choice of activities to take part in that aim to improve your confidence in different social situations (and you’re very welcome to make suggestions to add to the list).
If you would like to practice a talk with us, you can. Just let us know! You have the option to gain gentle feedback and encouragement from us all (we loved this at the first meeting! We each took home post-its from everyone with 2 things they liked about our talks and 1 piece of encouragement).
It's a safe, supportive space where you can take your time (there's no pressure to participate). Want to simply observe the room and get a feel for the gathering before choosing to join in? Head to the ‘comfort zone corner’ with creative distractions courtesy of New Day; and of course, our ‘I’ll skip this one...’ cards that guarantee you a pass when you do take part. We want you to have as much choice as you need so you don’t ever feel out of your depth.
How do I get involved?
About the next gathering:Join us on Monday 3rd April 6-8pm at Cafe Chaos.
Sharing topic: Let’s start by sharing one or two tips about how we can quieten those nerves when we're talking. What has helped you before? What good advice have you heard or read?
Book your place: You can get your ticket from Eventbrite now. This means you can get straight to your cuppa and snacks when you arrive (because... priorities!). And I look forward to seeing you there!