Making the Most of the Spotlight with JCI Sheffield: Lions and Mice and Public Speaking…Oh My!

Making the Most of the Spotlight with JCI Sheffield: Lions and Mice and Public Speaking…Oh My!

August 10, 2016 10:44 am Published by Leave your thoughts

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As well as being a high-scorer in Scrabble, glossophobia outranks heights, clowns and even death as Great Britain’s no. 1 fear.

According to the BBC, 41% of people cite public speaking as the most terrifying prospect imaginable. Rationally, we know that there’s nothing too daunting about presenting to an audience. And even if you freeze or forget your words, it’s highly unlikely that the crowd will be critical. Client pitches, wedding speeches, amateur dramatics – we’ve all had to speak in public.

Yet the nerves still kick in. Your heart beats faster, your palms sweat and you quickly assess the exits for a last-minute escape. If only you knew some simple tricks to calm your stage fright…

On the 21st July, I attended JCI Sheffield’s workshop, ‘Making the most of the spotlight: stagecraft for public speaking.’ Led by the amazing Liz Yoxall, this engaging session focused on practical tips for improving stage presence, voice control and posture. Liz has a very impressive resume, including: musical director of a community choir, singing teacher and actress. Throughout the session, she offered anecdotes about her own experience on the stage and was more than happy to answer questions.

After reciting some tricky tongue twisters, Liz encouraged us to sing a catchy ditty en masse, instructing us to change the tempo and volume with each round. Surprisingly, we sounded pretty good (is it too late to apply for Britain’s Got Talent?), and learnt how to project our voice with confidence.

In order to visualise our breathing, we created bubbles using jumbo packs of bubble solution. As Liz explained, regulated breaths are vital for voice control. To exercise our facial muscles, we alternatively impersonated a roaring lion and a pinch-faced mouse. After a few minutes, we felt the results – and saw the less-than-flattering photos on JCI Sheffield’s Twitter feed…

Overall, the workshop was extremely enjoyable, and I’ll definitely use the tips for future presentations. Right now, I need to practice my vocal warm-ups (in private, for the sake of my co-workers’ ears).

As a JCI member, you can attend another chamber’s personal development sessions free of charge. Although I moved across to JCI Leeds two years ago, I often revisit Sheffield for their brilliant events. Based on the high-quality of this session, I’ll be back in the steel city very soon!

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This post was written by Hannah Woodcock

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