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New support to grow confidence in public speaking for people feeling anxious

Hayley Stanton
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Hayley Stanton

Director & Coach at Quiet Connections
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.
Hayley Stanton
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Public speaking is our number one fear

Cornwall is full of students who need to present their work; entrepreneurs pitching their ideas; employees expected to speak up in meetings; and people attend job interviews everyday with a panel of interviewers or a presentation to deliver. There’s no getting away from the need to speak in public, yet public speaking is our number one fear!

Almost half of all students in the South West feel anxious in situations like these. Many go to great lengths to avoid being the centre of attention. For a student, this anxiety and avoidance could mean they’re achieving below their potential in education. It can lead to great challenges and emotional distress when transitioning to a new college or university, and into employment.

The fear doesn’t go away as a person leaves education. Just as many adults feeling fearful about speaking up in group situations -that’s around 250,000 people in Cornwall!

Talking about our self-doubt and our anxieties in social situations is taboo. We tend to think we should be able to do certain things and we worry what others will think if they find out we’re afraid. It can feel like we’re the only person struggling and, often, we’ll do our best to hide it.

In reality, this is a huge, unspoken issue. It affects how we perform in our careers; limits our career progression; and causes difficulties gaining employment or continuing in a role. Many people will go to great lengths to avoid being the centre of attention, including taking time off ‘sick’ or rejecting awesome opportunities to avoid public speaking.

You have to put yourself out there to achieve what’s truly important to you in life. That can be extremely scary when you’re not confident in your abilities. That’s why we believe you need somewhere that feels safe to practise speaking out first.

Growing confidence together

Quiet Connections is bringing like-minded people together to create a safe, supportive space where people of all ages who feel anxious or shy about public speaking can improve their speaking abilities and self-belief.

A regular gathering will be held on the last Thursday of each month at Cafe Chaos in Truro. It’s a chance to practise public speaking with other people who feel the same way as you do. We’ll be accepting of every blush, stutter and freeze with a smile and kind words of encouragement.

If you’ll be speaking in public soon, it’s a chance for you to bring your presentation, pitch or speech to practise and gain valuable feedback while growing your confidence.

For the majority of us who don’t have something like this lined up, you can start by either introducing yourself or talking about something you’re interested in, or reading a passage from a book. It doesn’t need to be a prepared speech, even though you’re welcome to get creative and come up with something especially for the session. Equally, if you’d just like to join to support others at first, and work your way up to speaking, we’re happy to have you there.

The first gathering will be held on Thursday 22nd February from 6pm at Cafe Chaos in Truro. Tickets are £10 or ‘pay what you can’ for people on low incomes. Book your space below, or go to:

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