Learning to slow down & speak a little slower

A little about life

Growing up performing in front of large groups of people never seemed to phase me. Music was one of the subjects I chose for my leaving cert for which I sung. In preparation for our practical the school organized a mini concert for younger years and the odd family members to attend. I remember loving the rush before stepping out on the stage and the relief after singing the last note. I often get the same rush when giving a presentation or making a speech.

I vividly remember a couple of weeks before starting my final year in college I was asked to give a presentation to incoming first years about the society I was involved with. For anyone who knows DCU it was in T101, a large lecture hall with tiered seating. The lecturer politely made an introduction followed by one of my peers kicking off the presentation. A few moments later he turned to me signaling that I was to take over. I stood there for a very painful 30 seconds before looking blankly at him to continue. I walked out of the lecture hall swearing that I would never let that happen again.

In the summer of 2013 I was lucky enough to get a one on one coaching session from Barbara Moynihan, MD of On Your Feet. By the end of the summer I was able to confidently give a 17 minute speech to a professional judging panel with 4 other society members.

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I believe in my line of work it is important to be able to confidently present in front of your peers, colleagues, clients and strangers. I have found the more passionate or excited I am about something the quicker I talk, even my parents have difficulty understanding me at times. I am working on a really exciting project in work at the moment and get quite excited when bringing the team up to date. One member of the team tends to smile and nod, then if I ask a follow up question his reply without fail is ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t understand you’. For this reason I recently enrolled in Toastmasters. This is a global public speaking organization. The club I joined is small, with the recent attendance being between eight and twelve people.

The club runs for one hour every Tuesday night. There was a once off membership fee of $20 and then to enroll until September it was $30. The structure remains the same weekly, however, the roles change round depending on who volunteers. You have the toastmaster who leads the session, a person presenting the word of the day and another presenting the joke of the day. There is an opportunity for two people to present their prepared speeches and an opportunity for short 2 minute unprepared speeches. During the second half of the session we hear feedback on the prepared speeches, members vote on the best unprepared speech and we also hear from grammarian about how many filler words the speakers used.

I have volunteered to do a prepared presentation the first week in June. I am looking forward to that feeling I use to be so familiar with, the rush of excitement, that sigh of relief when it is all over and the sense of accomplishment. I hope this is the start of many more (hopefully successful) presentations, improving throughout the process and maybe in not so long that certain team member will be able to understand me, even through my excitement.

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My Enactus Experience: What’s it all about?!?

Students of Ireland’s top universities are busy preparing for this years National competition, competing to represent Enactus Ireland in this years World Cup in South Africa. In 2013, myself and five other students from Dublin City University (DCU) represented Enactus Ireland in Mexico for the 2013 World Cup.

Following the competition I was asked to write a guest blog for Enactus Ireland on my experience of Enactus. I recently came across my blog post and with minor changes I have decided to share it here.

Good luck to everyone in this years competition!

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I got involved with Enactus in my final year of university and I can honestly say it was one of my best and most rewarding experiences in university. People often ask me ‘What is Enactus?’ or ‘What’s so great about it?’ both questions I struggle to answer, however, in a few words I will try! Enactus for me is, students from across the world seeing situations that need to be changed, these students realise they have the power to make a difference! I have always enjoyed helping other people and Enactus gave me the opportunity to continue helping others.

I initially got involved as a dance teacher for one of DCU’s projects, HeadstARTS. HeadstARTS is an organization that enables and empowers people with intellectual disabilities through the arts. I really didn’t understand the impact this project was having on our member’s lives and to be honest I still don’t think I do. We enabled and empowered, similar to all Enactus projects! Our member’s lives were changed and we gave them a creative outlet in the arts.

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I am proud to say I went on to represent DCU at both the Irish National Competition and Enactus World Cup in Mexico. The whole experience feels like a dream and trying to explain it to others is close to impossible. I was astonished to see how students from all corners of the earth shared the same passion and excitement for helping other people as myself and team. The joyous atmosphere was contagious. Everyone dressed up in their traditional clothes, music was blaring, people were dancing and exchanging gifts from their native countries. We even taught the Egyptians a few ‘one, two, threes’!

Because of Enactus I have learnt that I am not alone in wanting to make a difference in the world and anything we may do alone or together will make a difference. As Mother Teresa said “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. Enactus has also given me the opportunity to meet some inspiring and wonderful business leaders.

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Although my college journey has come to an end I hope my Enactus journey has not! If the opportunity arose I would love to be a judge not only in Ireland’s National competition but also in the World’s. I have been so inspired with what I have seen this year, Enactus students see opportunities to make the world a better place and instead of overlooking the problems, they make it their mission.

If I could give one bit of advice to students, business leaders and companies, it would be… get involved! You will not be disappointed!