THE DAY STARTED with my alarm going off at 06.30H on a Saturday morning to give me sufficient time to get to Birmingham New Street train station for the 7.20H departure to Sheffield.
This was my first time travelling to Sheffield. I got there before 9am so I indulged myself with a cup of coffee. I was unfamiliar to the place so I took a cab but to my surprise, it was only a short journey which took approximately 5 minutes.
THE WARM WELCOME……Arriving at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors office, a concierge (security personnel) asked me for the purpose of my visit and I said that “I am here for the JCI course, Sir”. “Oh, there is another gentleman waiting in the lobby as well”, he said. After a few moments, the concierge has asked his assistant to escort us to the suite where the course was held.
We entered the suite and saw Emma Eastwood, UK’s National President who greeted us with a smile and a firm hand shake! I have met Emma during the opening launch of Birmingham’s JCI chamber. She asked us to wait at the receiving area of the floor while the other attendees arrive.
Once everyone arrived and once Kate Senter, UK’s Deputy National President, was really nice to ask for everyone’s first round of free flowing ‘non-alcoholic’ drinks, we were asked to proceed through and grab ourselves a seat.
Emma Eastwood started with a formal introduction explaining the objective of the course, how certain activities will take place throughout the day, time of breaks and an estimated time of completion.
BREAKING THE ICE… She then asked each one of us to talk a bit about ourselves. The delegates that attended including myself were 10 altogether (3 of which were non-JCI members). 8 of the delegates were from Sheffield, one who represented JCI Cambridge and I who represented JCI Birmingham.
Emma explained the format again and that she will make us WORK HARD!
NOW THIS IS WHERE THE FUN BEGINS..
After a bit of theory, as part of the programme, she asked us to stand up in front of everyone and speak about an ‘unforgettable’ experience for a time of 2 minutes.
There was one delegate that was brave enough to volunteer to go first. Emma then called us randomly to stand up and speak. It was nerve-racking because you had to quickly sift through a lot of ‘unforgettable’ memories in your past and choose the most appropriate one to talk about. The pressure was on when you watched people who spoke before you who knew exactly what they wanted to talk about. When it was my turn, I started off with “Let me take you back to the the 15th of July 2011 which is the day I spoke to the mother of my fiancee asking for her blessing…”
The aim of the first task was to talk about how we felt in front speaking, feedback on the structure of our thoughts and body language.
JUST BEFORE THE MORNING BREAK.. We were then grouped into 3 teams and were given a scenario. The scenario focused on the type of presentations that Emma had covered and the tools that we can use to aid in the delivery of our message. We elected someone to speak and our team pulled through!
The next part of the programme was delivered by Kate and her topic was about body language, gestures and what I won’t forget is about the application of “THE LIGHTHOUSE PRINCIPLE”. Again, delegates were randomly chosen to speak. They were given random topics to talk about but the focus this time was about body language and gestures.
There further two tasks pushed us even further out of our comfort zone. TARGET AUDIENCE… We had to apply what Kate taught us. She imparted very important knowledge to us about understanding your audience and how this factors into your delivery of the subject as a speaker. I was very impressed about one speaker who was given a random topic – “THE EVOLUTION OF A PENCIL”. She was very composed and articulate. She has indeed captivated her listeners by making us visualize how the pencil has developed. Her presentation was informative with her make believe facts that seemed very compelling.
REACHING CLIMAX.. Towards the end of the day we were each allotted 3 minutes to PRESENT a topic that we had chosen. There were plentiful to choose from. We had to incorporate all the knowledge and techniques that were taught and apply it to our presentation. All delegates were given ample time to prepare. We were also given the freedom to buddy with another delegate (if needed) to practice the speech.
While preparing, we were given a brief one-to-one appraisal by Emma on how we’ve done throughout the day and how we can better the last task.
To hone my speech, I preferred to go to a quiet room. Since, the available areas were in use, I opted to practice in front of the mirror in the Gent’s WC. Having a mirror served a double purpose: this was because I was able to critically evaluate my delivery (as a member of the audience) being able to see the reflection of my body language and gestures. I was even able to time myself and correct language used in my write up.
Time was up and we were asked to head back to the suite. Thankfully I wasn’t called first. I acted as if I wasn’t frightened but my heart was pounding even if we had a lot of drills throughout the day. My name was then called so I stood up, *felt scared but as I started to speak. I just executed what I’ve practiced in front of the mirror. It wasn’t word per word written down but I was pleased with my delivery. I felt that I couldn’t have done it better.
*felt scared – no amount of noise can break the silence in the room; when you feel like that was the longest 3 minutes of your life
It’s amazing when you put effort into things, get coached by people, like Emma and Kate, who are at the pinnacle of the art of public speaking. The other great aspect to this course is the fact that not only did the trainers give feedback but so did all the other delegates. We gathered, formed a circle and gave feedback to one another about the last task and any improvements if needed.
The course was definitely worth it! In fact, our group even wanted a second session!
The skills and knowledge that you will gain from top trainers is just invaluable! The successful training course and the recently created ‘unforgettable’ experience just reaffirmed my decision that I have indeed made the RIGHT DECISION of JOINING JCI.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Kirstie Barnett