EASTBOURNE VOLUNTEERS WITH HELEN BURTON: Organiser talks about her battle with public speaking

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
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We all need help sometimes don’t we? It’s really what this project is about, so perhaps it’s not surprising that recently I’ve had to get some help.

I’ve been asked a few times lately if I would give talks about the Eastbourne Volunteers project. Now, we definitely need to spread the world about our project, but public speaking is not one of my talents. The last time I spoke publicly about my work was to a small social group in Pevensey Bay, and I was nearly sick in the toilets beforehand, forgot to breathe during the talk, my pace was too rapid and I probably looked like a startled bunny throughout. A bright red startled bunny. This is why I like to write.

A few weeks ago I attended the Eastbourne Speakers Club with the intention of learning the art of public speaking. It is a wonderful club which was very welcoming to me, and it helps members discover and perfect the skills that enable individuals to speak up and be heard in all kinds of situations. They describe it as a ‘learn-by-doing experience, because as good as written material can be, nothing beats actually practising in front of an audience’. The Speakers’ Club provides a friendly environment in which to do this and follows a structured training programme. When you join you get a workbook to go through which gives some great advice on public speaking and teaches different aspects in each section. Your training is very well organised. When you complete a section of the workbook you give a talk on a subject of your choice to practice what you have learnt, and you receive feedback from the audience to help build your skills. If you want to know more about the club they are on Facebook www.facebook.com/eastbournespeakers They meet at 7.15pm on the first and third Wednesday every month at the Lansdowne Hotel generally (but contact them to check) and you can attend three meetings as a guest, free of charge. I really enjoyed my evening with the club, but I find public speaking very stressful, and as a single mum of a child with special needs and project coordinator of an ever growing project, I decided to give myself a break and get someone else to do it! Local actor Greg Draven has been a Facebook friend for a while so I contacted him and told him I needed help to defeat my nemesis – public speaking. He came to the Hub for a chat (rocking up in black leather on a very cool black motorbike) and loved what we are doing, so he has kindly agreed to be our spokesperson. Greg is an amazing character (remember is application to become Carnival Queen last year?) So look out for some quirky publicity for our project coming soon! I may go back to the Eastbourne Speakers Club at some point because I think it is a useful skill to have, but in the meanwhile I am glad to have help!