Saturday 24 November 2018

Beautiful Inspiration

At the end of the summer I visited the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. Having been a fan of all things William Morris since I was a teenager; loving his philosophy that beauty was a human basic need, it was really special to visit the home where he spent his teenage years. The gallery is lovely. William Morris quotes are hung liberally and throughout there is a beautiful retelling of the story of his life.

Something that I had not known about Morris was that he was a regular public speaker.

When he was nearly 50, Morris, by then a successful businessman, took an extraordinary step: he became a Socialist.  In fact, Morris was one of Britain’s first socialists. For the rest of his life he campaigned to end the class system and bring about social equality. Angered by poor housing, terrible working conditions and environmental pollution, he hoped he would live to see a revolution. Such was his passion for social equality that he spent lots of his week travelling the length and breadth of the country speaking in town centres, market squares and meeting places about the inequalities and injustices of society.

Morris was terrified of public speaking. I don’t think that it was something he ever quite got used to doing or felt comfortable with. But a passion burned within him to address social inequality. And therefore, week after week he stood up in front of crowds of people and shared his convictions and heart. With his words, he hoped to bring change to the world.

One thing that I feel very privileged to witness at the speaker training workshops that I host, is the stories and passions that people hold. It is moving to hear tell of the sparks that ignited compassion, conviction and change within each delegate. Over the day we spend time looking at the stories that each of us carry that have inspired us to spend lives living for things that we hope will change worlds. From businesses that encourage community and connection to charities that challenge injustice, or simply words that changed our perspectives or have opened our eyes to beauty.

Earlier this month I hosted my last workshop of the year and was honoured to hear fabulous, heartfelt, moving stories from each participant. Two of those stories were from incredible women who I don’t think will mind my including them in this blog post!

Katrina Mather was inspired to begin The Body Toolkit, which hosts award winning health retreats in Scotland, due to health challenges that she had dealt with as a teenager and young adult. Katrina’s retreats have been described as ‘life – changing’. Knowing Katrina, the gentle, approachable , warm and intelligent passion that she carries in regard to health and well-being will be intrinsic to the success of her beautiful retreats.

At the same workshop, Zoe Anderson shared of how her family’s open house and extendable dinner table had shaped her profoundly and had been part of the inspiration that led her to work for International Justice Ministry – an incredible organisation that works to free people trapped by slavery worldwide. It was clear from the way in which Zoe spoke that she too, like her family, was a real gatherer of people through the kindness of her demeanour, heart and words.

Every participant carried a story that inspired and moved us all. The day was very special and reminded me of the power that a story holds. The ability to share - vulnerably -something of whom we are with each other makes connections that are deeply memorable, encouraging, inspirational and motivational. This ability is intrinsic to public speaking.

If you, like William Morris are somewhat terrified by the thought of public speaking or maybe you are just finding yourself in the position to need to do it for your work and are not quite sure how, then  I have two workshops that I will be hosting in January and February 2019 in Edinburgh.  The first, on January 16th and the second is on February 2nd. The days will run from 10:00am – 4:30pm and will be hosted in my home. The workshop will focus on the content of a talk. We will look at what it is to speak so that people will listen and we'll learn how to create a story- based narrative that will inspire and connect. Please get in touch if you would like to receive more information about the day. The cost will be £130, which will include all refreshments and resources.

I leave you with feedback that I received from Zoe and Katrina. I thank them both for taking the time to write! I thank them also, along with Michelle, Michael and Lauren, for inspiring me and making me want to be a better person. Something that every public speaker should do.

"I loved Saturday – thank you so much for a really special and helpful day. I left the workshop feeling completely empowered that I had a story, that it was worth sharing and that it would enrich any call to action I ever made. Having such a safe and encouraging space to explore the science of storytelling, how humans hear and therefore how we should speak, and to encounter other passionate individuals was invaluable. It was as if we were gathered around a fire – I left intrigued by the stories of others on the course; convinced by their ‘why’s’ and ready to hear their ‘what’s’. Practically, the take-away cue cards were a wonderful resource, I have already used them twice in three days! Thank you!” – Zoe Anderson (IJM)

“What a wonderful day we had on Saturday, both of us thoroughly enjoyed learning from you. The beautiful ambience and space you created, the inspiring company and serious food for thought (along with delicious real food). We had a really wonderful and thought-provoking time. Thank you so much.” – Katrina Mather (The Body Toolkit)



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