#upfront is on the hunt for talent

Are you ready to change the world?

Are you an actor, dancer, voice coach or performer looking for something more meaningful that pays well and pays regularly? #upfront is building a network of talented people to share their knowledge on the physicalities of confidence. 

#upfront offers you the chance to be part of something that will impact the lives of hundreds of people. It’s is a global movement elevating and encouraging new voices on and off public stages. 

Public speaking is more feared than death and confidence needs a refresh. Lauren Currie has built a community of hundreds of people all over the world and she is on the hunt for new talent. We need people who understand the physicality's of confidence; body, breath and voice. That’s where you come in. We are looking for people who:

    •    Have a relevant degree or significant experience in acting, drama or performance - you are equipped with a range of tools, techniques and knowledge on how to use body, breath and voice to increase confidence.
    •    Can motivate groups of people - you are comfortable sharing your knowledge with others and facilitating a group of people through a process
    •    Are passionate about using body and voice to instil confidence in others and the potential this kind of work has to really make change happen

You’ll work alongside Lauren and other #upfront leaders to deliver workshops and training sessions for private clients and open workshops. These primarily take place in London and over the next 12 months we intend to work across the UK. Typically these workshops last 1 - 2 day(s) or less - your time commitment is the duration of the workshop - typically 8 hours or less as well as 1 hour or less preparation time.

You will be paid at a very competitive rate. There will be opportunity for travel around Europe and potentially beyond. Absolute job satisfaction is guaranteed! What people say about #upfront confidence workshops: 

“I really liked the practical exercises, I now feel more aware of my body and what my body language is signalling. Thank you for teaching us different exercises. I have tried out the breathing technique and it actually works! I feel safer now, knowing a few tangible things I can do to calm my body down - and also to appear more confident and competent.” 

If this sounds like it’s for you, we’d love to hear from you! To apply please send an email to helloupfront@gmail.com and include:

    1.    A link to a one - two minute video on YouTube or similar of yourself talking about who you are and why you’d like to be part of #upfront, plus any relevant experience. We aren’t judging you on the quality of the video. 
    2.    Your up to date CV with the file name firstnamesurname_CV

Please submit your application by 13th March 2017

Authentic, Honest Confidence | 2017

Why London and 2017 need self-identifying women of all ages, races, abilities, orientations and creeds to practise confidence authentically.

It’s been a shocker of a year...I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted. We’ve endured heartbreaking, mass, democratic decisions intrinsically linked to discrimination against minority groups. I’m angry, tired, scared, embarrassed and in the face of the shit-storm that has been this year, it’s hard to access personal strength and resolve. 

Thing is, as a woman, I’ve had to work pretty hard on very gently coaxing out my legitimacy. But now that a racist, homophobic, misogynist has been voted into the most powerful position in the world, it’s quacking in it’s pretty-little-lady-boots and it doesn’t want to play. One of the most devastating skid marks this year has left us with, after allowing an awful man to shout his way to the top, is the lingering, unpleasant question: If, when push came to shove America chose a monster over a woman to lead us in the ‘free’ world - what kind of influence can women hope to have, really? 

The white, middle-class, straight, male collective is the identity that the world and its history has been built on. This is the identity that women, people of colour, and members of the LGBTQ* community, and disabled communities are sized up against when trying to infiltrate it. 

Margaret Thatcher is a useful example - “oh sure dear you can be Prime Minister, but if you want to have any actual power you must take voice classes to sound like a man and basically play at being a bloke for the entire time…if you do that - please feel free to fuck this country up as much as you like.” But as we continue to work hard at challenging this dominant male template on a global level - it’s vital we also think about how to tackle it as individuals in our daily lives…so here’s the plug:

This is Lauren. 


She’s badass for the following reasons:

She’s a public speaker. She speaks all over the world. People literally pay her to say stuff, loudly, in front of other people, and she is usually the only woman doing it. DESPITE THIS Lauren has perfected the technique of remaining unequivocally herself - she has a broad Scottish accent and an affinity with silver shoes that I doubt very much you could persuade her to part with.

I believe Lauren has achieved two very important things…

  1. She’s not scared to speak.
  2. She speaks in her authentic voice. 

It’s an impressive combination, believe me, I’m an actor, I’m trained to speak loudly on stages and I still get nervous speaking in public and feel FAR more comfortable hiding behind a script and a character than I do speaking as myself. But I think, especially in the light of the aforementioned shitter of a year, it’s essential that women start to find and use their authentic voices whenever possible. 

So to that end, Lauren and I are kickstarting our new year by facilitating a workshop in London for women in confidence and authenticity.  Buy your ticket here


In our workshop, we’ll talk, we’ll play and we’ll try stuff out - but most importantly we’ll listen to YOU - we’ll give you an opportunity to hold the space in a safe and open environment and to practise what that feels like. This is not about forcing you into an extrovert personality - it’s about celebrating who you are. Here's a video of us in action.

We’ve been running and working at these workshops for a year now and they’ve gone down bloody well.

Lauren shares her experiences as a woman working in a male-dominated environment, discusses the sorts of challenges she faces and shares stories about the different ways she’s tackled it. As an actor, I focus on the tools we’ve all been born into despite gender: our bodies and our voices. I’m not going to try to persuade you to do anything weird or uncomfortable and I’m certainly not going to encourage you to stand or speak like a middle aged, upper class, white man. What I am going to do is encourage you to understand that the way you’ve chosen to use these tools - through habit or psychological circumstance - is not set in stone… you may find, that through a deeper understanding of these fundamental instruments - you can access powerful parts of your communicative self that you’ve not realised can be utilised. 

We aim for you to leave the workshop, having spent some awesome time with the other awesome women who join you - having shared stories and concerns - having made connections - and having been reminded of tangible tools with which to speak in whatever way you want to - whenever and to whoever.  

Let’s find our voices, let’s be public and proud in our authenticity, let’s make some waves. 2017 needs us. 

Buy your ticket for our women's workshop in London here. We are also running uni-sex workshops in Oxford (buy your ticket here) and Dundee (buy your ticket here). We are hosting a confidence party in London to celebrate #upfront turning one. Get your free ticket here.

An #upfront conversation with Joanna Axinte

Joanna Axinte is Partnership Support Officer at University College Birmingham. We met at TedX Brum where Joanna was #upfront with Lauren. Here's what she has to say about her experience...

I'm a driven and ambitious individual always looking to improve my skills and knowledge. I've got more than seven years experience in events management and I'm also passionate about alternative methods of education and love to travel. I believe that a person learns from experiences rather than the classroom, hence the reason why I wanted to be part of the #upfront movement. I'm keen to share my learnings from being #upfront and I want to work hard to help more stages around the world become more diverse and accessible. 


It was a pleasure working with Lauren and I learnt a lot from experience. I now know that it's not just about the moment when you are on-stage but also what happens before, during and after the speech.

It was great to have the opportunity to be in the shoes of the speaker without the pressure of actually delivering the speech.

This gave me the opportunity to reflect on all the steps that you have to take to deliver an amazing speech: putting together a speech that delivers a clear and authentic message, the mental rehearsal, the moment of silence combined with the anticipation before coming on stage and the moment when you have to deliver the speech.  

My big three takeaways are: 
    •    not to let the fear of what other people think stop you from doing something
    •    to be authentic and real
    •    to be YOU

I noticed that the audience is there to hear your message, to be inspired to take action and learn new ideas that they could implement in their personal or professional life. The audience is there to listen to you and not to judge you. 


I believe that if more people have the opportunity to be #upfront, they will see that public speaking is a skill that can be mastered by doing it and getting over that initial fear. This will open the stage for more people to share their stories and experiences. 

I think that confidence comes from believing in yourself and your message. Every person has their own unique experiences and therefore they are able to share their unique point of view without being afraid that they will be judged. This is one of the most common reasons people have imposter syndrome. Everyone has something to share, everyone has learnt something that could help others and if more people are #upfront these stories will be heard. If you want to build your confidence then you have to do the things that scare you, this is the only way you will learn. 

Being on the other side of the stage has helped me understand that public speaking is simply a set skills that you can master

Every time you will learn something new and incorporate this into your new talk. My next goal is to deliver my own speech at a conference or event. 


I made new friends the day I was #upfront and this was something I hadn't expected! 

An #upfront conversation with Valgerdur Petursdottir

Vala is a designer at Mint Digital and a dear friend of ours. Part of what we do at #upfront is encourage the people around us to speak up and be heard. We spend time recommending people to speak and convincing people who have never spoken before to say yes.

A few months ago, we recommended Vala to speak on a panel at the Service Design Fringe Festival. They were looking for a Service Design and UX voice and having worked with Vala we reckon she is one of the best UX/visual designers out there. This was her first experience of speaking to an audience from a stage. Here's what she's got to say about it...


I try to avoid public speaking at all costs. I really don’t like it. Mainly because I blush quite easily and tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. I used to be pretty bold as a child but when I hit puberty is when things started going south. I went into my shell and didn’t come out until I studied in Stockholm. There I finally gained some confidence but was still terrified of speaking in public. But every time I did it - I would get a really great response and it made me super happy. So I guess I could say that I have a love/hate relationship with public speaking.

Lauren recommended me to speak on a panel and when I read the email my heart skipped a beat. All I could think was "me?!" and then OMG that’s crazy - what is Lauren thinking?!

She recommended me to speak about Service Design and UX design. What do I know? But the more I thought about it I was like, well actually I do have experience in both sectors so it did make sense. 

When I saw the other people on the panel I realised they were all men and decided they had much more experience than me. I became more reluctant to do it and asked a lot of questions of the organiser. I wasn’t convinced I was the right person to be up there.


BUT I knew I had to do it purely because I was so reluctant. I have a rule; if there is something I really don’t like doing because I’m scared I have to do it! 

It took me few days to confirm that I was coming. I hoped if I took long enough they'd tell me it was okay if I didn’t come because they had found someone else. That didn’t happen thankfully and I got the confirmation about 12 hours before the event started. So it gave me little time to start stressing out about how nervous I was. 

On the day of the event, I woke up a bit uneasy. I was texting with a friend and she asked me if I was nervous because I only spoke in stress faced emojis - and she gave me the best advice ever. She said, “Vala, you know, life is a comedy.” And I thought… yeah, actually it is. And it was so strange how much these few words of wisdom helped. 

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I was really lucky with my first panel. The people were all super friendly. The venue was great and not intimidating at all. It also turned out there was another woman and the facilitator of the discussion, Caroline Owen, was wonderful. She was careful to include me and other people in the discussion. Because don’t get me wrong, I love to talk but as soon as I'm in a group where I don’t know people I go back into that teenage shell and tend to just stay there. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that I’m a middle child but it’s a tendency I have when I’m in a meeting or in other scenarios where there are people I don’t know.  

AND I loved it! I loved the discussion and being a part of it. The people that came to listen had some great questions. It was a wonderful experience!

There is just one thing I regret. Since I was so focused on talking in front of other people there were so many things I believe in and would have wanted to say and that only occurred to me the day after I had been on the panel. But I guess you live and learn.   

You asked me to share my advice to anyone reading this who wants to try it out. I’m a very lucky person. I have people like Lauren in my life that push me to do more. I also have wonderful colleagues and friends that all helped me. And I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but for me, it was a big win. I couldn’t have done it without an initiative like #upfront. It’s exactly this world needs! So BIG thanks to you gals!! 

So my advice would always be, just do it. Don’t shy away from it and think you don’t have anything to add. The reason why you were asked to talk is because someone thinks you actually do have something to contribute to the conversation. And guess what you do!! Also, another great advice from a friend, always be yourself. People are there to hear your opinion and your view, don’t give them what you think they want. Give them what you want to say and what you believe in. 

And remember, life is a comedy. 

An #upfront conversation with Nicola Osinaike


Nicola Osinaike is a senior internal auditor and recently sat #upfront at Civil Service Live 2016. Here's what she has to say about her experience.. 

Previously, I have had a small taste of what it is like to confront your fears and speak in front of 100 people, so when I heard about #upfront I thought it was a great idea and I was keen to take part. The experience itself was an interesting one, it was a little daunting at first sitting in front of so many people, but once I got over that I began to enjoy the experience.

I saw it as a challenge and I would like to become more confident in public speaking

Having attended three conferences so far this year spanning a range of subjects, there is a definite bias towards very experienced, well decorated, senior individuals (most notably white, male and over 45) dominating these stages. I doubt these are the only people who have something interesting to say or ideas to share but it seems they are the ones who are part of the ‘in crowd’ when it comes to conferences. Until conference organisers reach out to different types of people not much is likely to change. I hope #upfront can continue to be a part of that change.


I have done very little public speaking but I remember once being faced with speaking in front of 100 people. I naturally panicked but quickly realised I had something important to say and the nerves slowly reduced. The only advice I have is this - prepare well and bore your friends and family senseless by practising on them. When I wanted to back out, I decided to imagine what I would feel once I had delivered and it felt as good as I imagined. To anyone who wants to build their confidence in public speaking I would say start small with team meetings but if an opportunity comes along to deliver on a wider stage just go for it. Being #upfront is an amazing stepping stone so try and find an #upfront conference in your area.

I found it a useful experience and gave an insight into how it feels to face such a large audience!

I would like to get less nervous while speaking in public so I am due for my next practice at the next team meeting. But if I am offered the chance to speak to a larger audience, to prove that you don’t have to be male, well decorated and at the top of your career to have something important to say. I will grab the opportunity with both hands and just go for it.   

An #upfront conversation with Ana Kyra Bekš

Ana Kyra Beks is a service designer from Slovenia. She was #upfront at the Global Service Design Network Conference in Amsterdam earlier this month. Here's what she has to say about her experience...


My three main takeaways from being #upfront are:

  1. Facing fear and anxiety is something everyone is capable of tackling
  2. The importance of speaking up and sharing our stories
  3. Supporting each other is key to overcoming inequality

I got an amazing opportunity to represent the Global Service Jam at the Global Service Design Conference in Amsterdam.

A week before the conference, I saw a post from Redjotter on Facebook inviting people to join Paula Bello (one of the keynote speakers at the conference) on the stage as part of #upfront. I already knew about #upfront -  it aims to diversify stages and helps people overcome their fear of talking in front of big audiences. I decided to try it out. 

The fact I didn’t have to talk made it feel safe and doable.

Even though I facilitate a lot, talking on stage isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I don’t mind talking to large groups for a few minutes but to stand in front of an audience for more than 10 minutes, with all their attention focused on me - it’s just too much.  One might think that being a facilitator would make this easier, but it doesn’t.My fear and anxiety take over.

So I applied to be #upfront and soon I was introduced to the other women who had applied to share Paula’s stage. We met at the conference, one day before Paula’s presentation and got to know each other a bit. Paula gave us some last minute instructions and it was all set. I remember going to bed that evening thinking about what awaited me and realising that I wasn’t nervous because I knew I didn’t have to do anything on stage (well, except sit there). Normally, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep for hours if I had a presentation the next day, but this time was different.


That’s why it came as a big shock to me I was so nervous 10 minutes before we were supposed to go on stage.  My heart rate went up and my palms started sweating. Reasoning didn't help, even though I kept saying to myself: “Come on, you won’t have to do anything!” the nervousness wouldn’t go away. Only realising the other women were as nervous as I was made me feel a bit better. At least I wasn’t alone. 

It was on. I kind of had an outer body experience when I walked on stage. It was a weird feeling, walking up on stage, as if I wasn't control of myself but just the observer. We decided to introduce ourselves on the stage (which I regretted the moment I sat on that sofa). Thank goodness I’ve introduced myself so many times that I couldn’t really mess it up. Ok, so we did it and it felt like a huge relief. 


Once I got comfortable sitting there I started to look around. It was an amazing opportunity to observe the whole thing from the “other side”. At first, it felt weird looking at the audience but I soon realised most of them didn’t really pay too much attention. Some of them were listening and others looking at their phones. I started to observe Paula. Since we couldn’t hear her presentation very well (the sound system was facing the audience only) I focused on the way she was talking and how she was moving. I could sense she was a bit nervous too but she dealt with it in a brilliant way! She kept her focus and gave a wonderful presentation. What I realised is that everyone gets nervous it’s just some people have mastered how to overcome it.

After we went down from the stage I felt pretty cool. It almost (not quite yet!) felt I could have said something on the stage after this. It is something we can get used to and the only way to do that is to go on that stage. I’m already thinking how I could bring the #upfront project to my home city of Ljubljana. We’ve been doing something similar with local X-Jams, as spin-offs of the Global Service Jams where we invite “experienced jammers” to co-create a short workshop, putting themselves into shoes of organisers and facilitators. So far it proved to be a great experience for all of us. I’m sure I’ll find a way to expand this and share the #upfront concept with everyone else.

This has given me the confidence that I can do it! It’s a very powerful experience.

Now, a few weeks later, I know why it is important to be #upfront. We need to see and hear more diverse stories and people. Not only big, fancy, media stories but also small, humble and simple stories. We need to give a more realistic image of our world by including truly everyone. And help them to do that. Here we come to the last topic I mentioned at the beginning on helping each other.

Being given the chance by Paula and Lauren to have this experience and the support we got before, during and after, is something that made me feel empowered and more confident. Having someone to help me overcome my fears and anxieties is the best gift I could get. And knowing how this helped me, I want to spread and help others.

That’s why I decided to share this experience with you because I want to encourage everyone to reach out and go out and share your story. Not only #upfront people but also presenters - by sharing your stage with others you not only enable and co-create our experience but also show the world that you believe in diversity and that you wish too, to hear more diverse stories and voices. This is an invitation to all to be #upfront.

Thank you to the Service Design Network Conference for being an #upfront event! 

An #upfront conversation with Mary Jane Boholst

Mary Jane was part of the very first time I tried being #upfront. Mary Jane leads her own business, Conscious Cocoon, dedicated to supporting introverts with ideas so #upfront was appealing to her from day one! Everyone in this group was comfortable speaking and the conference organiser, Matt, was super flexible so Mary spoke at the end of my talk. Here's what she has to say about her experience...

I hadn’t met Lauren before taking part and we spoke only two days before to talk about what was going to happen. I was nervous about being on stage in front of so many people, it’s wasn’t usual for me to be in front of 100 or more. I’ve been working on my speaking confidence over the last few years and have made some progress speaking, and speaking to 100+ people was an edge for me.


I started my business a few years ago with much less confidence and being a typical IT geek, kind of shy and introverted and a lot more comfortable behind a computer screen than standing on a stage!

Growing my business has been the motivation I needed to put myself in front of more people, but I knew I had an edge when it came to larger groups and also knew that if I was going to be an example for other introverts and techies then I needed to get out there and be seen by more people.


Waiting to get on stage was nerve-wracking, watching the previous speakers get up and deliver polished talks with sleekly designed slides brought up the loud voice of my inner critic asking me who am I to stand up in front of this group of professionals? What do I know?

It helped that I wasn’t alone and that Lauren was there. Waiting for the time to speak I found I got somewhat used to being on the stage with an audience and had time to scope out some familiar faces!

When it came time to say something. I opened my mouth and shared something completely different to what I thought, but was OK with that. I shared my thoughts on #upfront and what it means to me to 100 people, and it wasn’t as bad as my inner critic was telling me! I survived! It was fun and I met some wonderful ladies too!

I thought I was going to talk more about being a woman in a male-dominated industry and how we, as women need to speak up more, but instead I ended up talking about my desire to walk my talk and be an example for other people who find public speaking daunting especially my fellow introverts and techies!

Taking part in upfront has made it much more fun and easy for me to speak to bigger groups of people.

How do you feel about public speaking?

Earlier this month we ran a confidence workshop at the Service Design Festival. We met Cindy Cheung who has since written a blog post about her experience... enjoy! 


I discovered an inspiring workshop over the weekend with Service Design Fringe Festival on public speaking and how we can work together to give others confidence to DO and act! For many people, standing up in public and doing a speech is one of their greatest fears. The feeling of cold sweats, and when you’re ready to share your passions with others but then nothing comes out of your mouth!? The stage comes in all shapes and sizes and everyone has their own reasons for that ‘stage fright’ feeling.  

This was a practical workshop put on by Lauren Currie and Lindsay Dukes; who both took time out to share with us their stories and about developing techniques to gain confidence when speaking in-front of big and small crowds; from preparation to motivation, practice and delivery. We discussed ways to engage audiences through storytelling about who you are, what you do and why you do what you do; through to being confident in getting our messages across in a manner where they are heard and taken more serious by others.


Lauren Currie is a designer and a proper doer who works with people, teams and organisations helping them be better. She is also the founder of #upfront, a movement that I particularly took a shine to, that force stages around the world to be more diverse and accessible with a particular focus on getting more women up and speaking ( yes please!). The world certainly needs more people like Lauren, and I found her story very inspiring.

Lindsay is a writer and performer, demonstrated to us, by simply ‘breathing out’, sloooooowly, this would help to slow down the heart rate and centre the voice – enabling what we want to say (the voice) to come out stronger. Lindsay also reminded us not to look at the floor as we enter the centre stage (that will always be there. So, head up. Always!)….

The Service Design Fringe Festival ran alongside the London Design Festival to highlight some of the current work and create discussion about the types of work service designers are doing in London. Supporting, encouraging and being able to inspire others is something that really drives me to do what I do – and the people I met here definitely shared the same passions too.

Thanks Lauren, Lindsay and Service Design Fringe for a workshop that allowed me to take some time out and to develop myself. You certainly put (and others), a smile on my face :)

#upfront conversation with Jayne Hardy

#upfront conversation with Jayne Hardy

I'm humbled to introduce Jayne Hardy, founder of The Blurt Foundation; increasing awareness and understanding of depression. Jayne is beautifully ordinary yet utterly extraordinary. Her work, her voice and her story are remarkable. Jayne spoke at TedX Brum directly after me and she left her stage wishing she'd known about #upfront and is now a big supporter of the approach. Here's what she has to say about her relationship with public speaking and the value of #upfront...

#upfront conversation with Angela Prentner-Smith

I'm happy to introduce Angela Prentner-Smith, founder and CEO of This is Milk.  Angela founded her business in May 2013, and following a hiatus, finally started trading in July 2015 following her return from maternity leave.

This is Milk helps business with change and transformation in a digital world, offering people for projects, business audits and reviews, horizon watching and digital delivery. Angela was #upfront with  Mairi Damer,at the Women Making Scotland conference in June 2016. Here's what she has to say about the experience and her relationship with public speaking... 


My upfront experience was a little different to most because my primary motivation was to encourage others. Lauren was the first speaker and spoke with such determination about the movement she was building around #upfront while sharing her stage with eight other women.

Like everyone else in the room, I applauded and felt inspired by the potential of the simple concept. The next speaker, Mairi Damer, was also inspired by what she heard and decided to spontaneously invite people from the crowd to be #upfront with her. I watched a few people get up and suddenly thought I need to get up too! If I believe in what Lauren is championing, then I need to show support.

Frequently in my career, I make the case for something I believe in around big meeting tables, and no one backs me up. After these meetings, people approach me to tell me they agreed with me and supported my ideas. My reaction internally is always – why didn’t you back me up or say that when it counted?

I now know the reason for this is often either a lack of confidence or a perception that I was holding my own so I didn’t need support. However, I think we should all stand-up and be counted, be role models and make changes by exemplifying what that change should be.

For me, it was about solidarity and leading by example – if we are all willing to applaud Lauren and this idea then let’s get up and show our support!


So with those thoughts in my head, I followed the other few women who walked on stage to be #upfront with Mairi. 


It felt quite natural, like being on a sofa would but I was a little unsure where to look at first. I honestly can’t remember what Mairi was talking about now, and perhaps that was a sign of being preoccupied with the experience of being #upfront.

It made the conference seem more intimate


The audience almost became secondary to me, I remember looking out at them and having some thoughts about different outfits I liked, and I remember thinking what a great range of women the audience represented. From then on I focussed on the stage. I thought a lot about the feeling of the sofa and cushions and wondered why the women on the sofa with me were #upfront.


I’ve attended many conferences of late and started running my own events so I often think about conferences and how they work. At our last Milk Bar event, we had three speakers. They weren’t on a stage which was nice and casual, but we did get feedback that people would like different formats. So this time round we are having interactive workshops.

This feedback and my #upfront experience started an interesting conversation between me and the other women in my team. I asked Nicky and Annina how they felt about public speaking and conferences in general. Annina feels she is getting worse at it the more she does it, and Nicky doesn't even like seeing people speak because it feels outdated to her. 

When she talks in public she gets blotchy and her mouth goes dry which is surprising for her because she is a very engaging confident woman. We are all perfectionists, so the thought of making a mistake on a stage when you expected to be the ‘expert’ is quite terrifying.


This led to us talking about what putting a person on a stage does. It basically says that person is powerful, an expert of some sort and an authority.  Perhaps, it is a lack of comfort with being viewed as an expert that causes such extreme reactions to being on stage and public speaking. 

I think #upfront is a brilliant way to place people in a powerful position who would never normally be there.

We usually see white men speak at us from a stage. Maybe the answer isn’t about getting more people on stage, maybe it's about building a new platform altogether? I know #upfront shares this sentiment and I think it's a useful vehicle to imagine what this 'stageless' future might look like.


Of course, I’ve been on a journey with public speaking. I was a very introverted person, particularly through my high school, college and university. In fact, I used to drink to feel comfortable in big social situations. I had a fear that I had nothing interesting enough to say so I stayed very quiet.

During my degree I took a part time job at Student Loans Company and quickly was promoted to a role that required me to speak up. I literally forced myself to speak because I had to, and I knew I wasn’t going to progress if I didn't. I was quickly promoted again to the role of Team Leader which involved chairing meetings, and give presentations to the rest of the department. In order to do this, I used to pretend I was a person that was good at presenting. Pretty much method acting. I continued this through my career, and at one point was speaking at conferences to over 200 people for Student Finance England.

Now I’m very different to the introverted student I used to be. I’ve let go of my fear that I have nothing to say. I have plenty to say, and I’m pretty much fearless. When I get up on stage now I have no fear, no nerves and no butterflies.


One of the ways I'm achieving this goal has been to set up my own meet up group and build a new platform to bring new voices around changing business. This is the Milk Bar Meetup – bringing business transformation to Scotland.

My goals are now not only about confidence but about being on more platforms to be heard by different people. I have ideas to share and now I need to find ways to share them. I want to change businesses – so let me be heard! I want to be a role model to mothers, to women and girls, and also to people who have had a tough upbringing or lived through abuse.

So my advice would be to anyone reading this who wants to be braver is stop being afraid. Know that you have something to say, and if you can’t do it as yourself – pretend you are someone who can, eventually you will become that person. Become the person you want to be – you are in control of that.

#upfront conversation with Denise Strohsahl

I'd like to introduce Denise Strohsahl who was #upfront at the last Creative Mornings event in Edinburgh. Denise founded her Edinburgh-based small business marketing consultancy ‘sandstonecastles’ in 2010, right after her move from Germany to Scotland. Denise responded to Akiko Kobayashi's invitation to share her stage because she loved the idea of being able to look at an audience without having to talk to them. Here's what she has to say about her experience of being #upfront...


When I heard about #upfront, I immediately jumped at the chance. In the past, I always thought how great it would be to be a ‘fly on the wall’. This was an opportunity to be able to see what it feels like to stand in front of a large crowd without the pressure of having to actually say anything.

And it turned out that #upfront was exactly that! While listening to a great talk I had time to look back at the audience, forcing myself to look at the people and imagining myself being the speaker. Suddenly the crowd didn’t look half as daunting as expected. Those people were just like me, sitting there with a tea or coffee in their hand, curious to hear what the speaker has to say.  


#upfront makes the people in the audience more aware that the speakers are not super humans with nerves of steel who have spent years (and huge amounts of money) on professional speaker training. It reminds you that those experienced speakers were one day speaking for their first time too.

#upfront makes you realise that one day it could be you


The idea of having people sitting on stage blurs the line between audience and speaker, front and back, listening and speaking. It erases the difference and distance between the audience and the speaker, and reduces the ‘confrontational’ nature of most conferences. 


The first thing I realised was that knowing what you’re talking about is half the battle. 

Nobody really cares if your English isn’t perfect as long as you have something interesting to say

I had my first experience of speaking in front of small groups while working as a tour guide in Scotland for the first few years after my move. It was odd at first, but after a short while I felt quite comfortable doing walking tours or using the microphone on the coach. Being a tour guide with little attention on you is very different from standing in front of a large crowd at a conference with all eyes on you. It's also much easier to speak in your native language than improvising and hiding your nervousness in your second language. 

Since starting my own business, I have made a point of not just sticking with what I know but taking every opportunity to learn something new. So, a few years ago I decided to try public speaking. I held a few small workshops about marketing and I have been invited to hold presentations in front of smaller groups of local business owners a couple of times since. 


Despite this experience I would only talk at a conference if I was invited. I wouldn't put myself forward. Being #upfront was a way for me to practice being on stage which is so needed as right now the only way people can really practice is by hiring professional speaking coaches. I love the way it gives you a chance to build a closer relationship with the speaker and ask them direct questions about their journey.

I still think that public speaking is a great way to generate new business. But lately I haven’t really chased up any other opportunities to speak, mainly because there aren’t many local events for my target audience but also because it seems a lot of effort for something that is not a key part of what my business focuses on.

I would love to be able to do more public speaking in the future though. It suits me and my personality but I also think that apart from the stage fright bit the content is another big challenge. 

Workshops are easy because I talk about my work and how others can learn from what I know but to give a talk I have to have a point to make; something interesting to say. I’m not sure if I know what that could be in my case.


So my next goal is to find the stories I will tell. 

Special thanks to Alex Humprhy-Baker and the sterling team at Creative Mornings Edinburgh and of course the speaker, Akiko Kobayashi, for sharing her power and her stage. We'd love to see all Creative Morning speakers around the world sharing their power and being #upfront.

#upfront conversation with Susan Reid

I first met Susan when she volunteered to be #upfront at the Women Making Scotland conference in June 2016. 

Susan is the Founder and Owner of Susan Reid Collection.  She launched the business in November 2003 which was one of the first sales & marketing representation companies in the hospitality industry to be launched in Scotland. She offers sales & marketing representation to privately owned hospitality businesses in Scotland and works directly with owners who are either new to the industry or are hands on in the business and do not have the time for the sales and marketing.  

I was thrilled to share my stage with Susan and here's what she has to say about her experience of being #upfront... 


I wanted to be #upfront to build my confidence around being on stage. This was perfect because I could find that confidence whilst having the safety of someone else presenting.  I wanted to develop my skills and confidence because even though I regularly present to my clients I wouldn't be likely to put myself forward to speak at a conference.

The whole experience of being on stage at the Women Making Scotland really boosted my confidence as a person and also built on the brand of my business and allowed me to receive feedback from the business market and clients.

I was a little nervous at first due to being in front of a large audience on stage with people I have never met before.  I focused all my attention on the speaker presenting and then dared to glance at the audience. As soon as I relaxed into it I actually enjoyed it. 

When I finally looked at the audience they were nowhere near as scary as I’d imagined. At first it was difficult to see due to the bright lights but it wasn’t as intimidating as I had imagined it to be.

I didn't speak when I was invited to because I still think if I had asked a question it might have sounded stupid to the audience. Now I'm working towards having the confidence to ask questions and speak up.  I also realised that if it had been me presenting I would have felt more at ease with others on the stage. It would be less lonely and more interactive.

I hope #upfront encourages more conferences and presentations to use this technique because at the very least it changes the dynamic of the entire day and makes it feel more interactive.

Being upfront allowed me to see the stage was not too daunting and actually giving a talk on stage is something that I could do one day

I have an event(s) I am running in September and I want to be the lead. I want to introduce the speaker and hopefully also facilitate the question and answer session.  This is something I don't think I would have pushed myself to do before I was #upfront. Go #upfront if you get the chance. I was very quick to volunteer without thinking too much about it and I'm so glad I did as I now I just want to push myself to do even more. 

#upfront conversation with Jess Ede

Jess Ede is a professional problem solver at Meld Studios in Sydney. With a background in interaction design and psychology, she uses the design process to help large organisations and government departments improve peoples lives. 

I was lucky enough to meet Jess when I spent Christmas 2013 in Sydney and got to catch up last month when she was in London. Here's what she has to say about her relationship with public speaking and confidence...

When I was younger I used to perform in plays and compete in poetry events. These were my first experiences of speaking publicly but the content wasn’t mine. I was judged on how I performed not what I was saying. It’s the latter that scares me. 

I have anxiety around public speaking primarily because it’s about saying the right thing in the right way. Secondly, the format means you speak at people instead of a dialogue and this makes me feel uncomfortable. 

It fills me with fear. It feels like there is a right and wrong way to do it and I don’t want to get it wrong.


I feel most confident when I have moments when I’m not worried about what other people think of me. My confidence wavers when I focus on the pressure to have a solid idea or a resolved opinion about something. My opinions and thoughts are always changing, so the idea of putting my name to content in such a solid way is scary. 

I have never been a speaker at a conference and I’ve never applied to speak at a conference. This is something I would like to do. The reason I don’t do this is I'm not convinced I have anything valuable enough to say to a captive audience. The idea of getting up on stage in front of people I don’t know also feels risky because they don’t know me. It doesn’t feel like a safe space. 


This year I’m working hard on overcoming my fear of public speaking. I went to a course at NIDA which was a one day workshop on presenting with confidence. It was good because it addressed the common things most people are afraid of; what to do with your breathing and your body when you are nervous.

I co-facilitated a workshop for the first time last week with a colleague and I put some of the techniques into play. Ordinarily I would have freaked myself out before hand, I have a tendency to overthink things and imagine worse case scenarios. I can obsess over how people will perceive me rather than focusing on the content and the real reason I’m there. The workshop went well and it felt like I was just having a conversation with a room full of people. It felt normal and it was nowhere near the big deal I thought it would be. I need to remember to just get out of my own way more often and to stop thinking about the things that could go wrong. 


At Meld, my team know I’m scared and they are giving me opportunities to overcome this. I’m very lucky to work in a very supportive environment. 

If people don’t know you have a problem then they can’t help you and I encourage you to share what you are scared of.


I’ve found out that many of my colleagues have gone through incredible journeys to find their confidence. You don’t know the steps someone has had to go through to be as good as they are unless you ask! Try not to compare yourself to people who have done it for years and years. If my team didn’t know this is something I’m working on I’d feel even more anxious because there would be that expectation on me. 



I’ve had conversations with my bosses about what I’m scared of and this has made them understand why I behave the way I do. The now know that it’s not because I don’t want to speak, host, or facilitate. This message has been really important to them. I thought it was obvious and everyone knew but turns out this was an unhelpful assumption.

Every single person has a story about public speaking. This might be why and how they are good at it or it might be the way they rehearse in the mirror the night before. You only find out by asking. As soon as I shared my vulnerability these stories came forward. Everyone has a strategy - it doesn't just come naturally to people - people work hard to be good at it. 

Often you look around at a conference it feels like everyone knows what they are doing except you. People on the stage look confident and look like they should be up there. Imagine if every speaker told us how many times they had practised? Imagine if every speaker talked about how nervous they were the night before?

I know the only way to learn is to try different things out to find the thing that is comfortable for me. I have held off for a long time as I thought maybe public speaking would just never be my thing. My advice to anyone thinking this is don’t over think it and give it a shot. If you fail, yes it’s a possibility you might feel stupid but it’s still better than sitting still. 

Get into the headspace of finding your ‘fuck it’. I get to the point where I’m tired of overthinking things.

I realise that if I don’t step up and do it I will be the only one worse off. If I don’t do it now then when will I? It’s easy to find a million excuses for not doing something. Just fuck it, no more excuses. Do it. 

#upfront is important because the current format of a speaker star on a physical pedestal makes it really hard for people in the audience to  imagine that one day that could be them. Right now, there is no way to connect the speaker back to your life and try and figure out how one day you could be where they are. Let’s ask every speaker to share the journey they’ve been on! 

For the people who have been doing this for along time - what is your advice? Do you realise how valuable it is to share this? Will you share your stage with people like me? Helping other people communicate ideas and thoughts is so vital otherwise brilliant ideas and knowledge gets lost in the heads of really smart people who don’t know why or how to share.

This year I am going to give find opportunities to present publicly and teach a masters class in service design at the University of Technology Sydney. I’m turning 30 this year and I want to be a designer who shares. I’m taking baby steps and you can too! We all must find confidence to share. 

If you'd like to talk to Jess about your experiences, ideas or anything in this post you can email her Jessica.ede@gmail.com 

#upfront with Year Here

YearHere is a year to test and build solutions to some of society's toughest problems. I've been a big fan of this programme since it's launch and I was delighted to speak at one of their Off the Record events at the beginning of the year. The panel I was part of was chaired by year here fellow, Mursal Hedayat, she talked to me very openly and honestly about feeling nervous before hosting the panel and it sparked the idea in my mind that I'd love to work with all of the Year Here fellows to support them in their journey to becoming confident on and off stages. 

With their biggest pitch to date three days away Lindsay Dukes and I designed a workshop focused on public speaking, story telling and confidence. The day started with a check in where everyone in the group shared their current relationship with public speaking. We heard anecdotes ranging from it makes me feel like I'm about to jump out of an aeroplane to I actually get a real buzz from talking in front of people. 

We then pitched in pairs. Everyone talked for one minute to a partner and then got immediate feedback. This is a very simple and quick way to get an immediate sense if you are making sense. 


We introduced exercises and techniques around body, posture and breath. Lindsay Dukes is an actor and theatre maker and she introduced the fellows to very practical methods to help them become better story tellers. This picture shows the fellows learning how to warm up their neck and shoulder muscles correctly.


Lindsay showed us how to warm up our facial muscles to make articulation and voice projection easier.


We learned how to do a body roll to relax our entire bodies. We talked about a host of different things from eye contact to posture. We hold a lot of tension in our shoulders - that's why it's very useful to try and relax your arms. Most of us forget that our arms are physically attached to our body - we forget that if we let them go they won't fall off. Try letting your arms hang loosely by your side. We talked about accents and realised that many of us make assumptions about how others perceive our accents. Try asking those around you what your accent sounds like to them and how it affects their perception of what you are saying. 

What do you do if your body shakes? Well the truth is you can't stop it from shaking. What you can do is a range of breathing and body exercises before hand and ideally every day that will prevent the shaking in the first place. If you are prone to shaking don't hold paper because this makes the shaking more visible. Holding a pen is a good way to give your hands something to do that the audience won't even notice.

How do you do all these exercises if you are sitting in the audience waiting for your turn to talk? There is no secret here. You have to do them regularly and often. When you are sitting in the audience concentrate on your breath - the out breath is your friend. 

What is the best way to stand when you are on stage? This is hard. You can only get better with practice. Don't rock. Don't sway. Don't cross your legs. Stand strong and firm and try not to move too much. I am working very hard on not crossing my legs. I realised a few years ago that I do this to physically make myself smaller. I am 5ft 9 and growing up was taller than most of my girlfriends so I'd cross my legs right over so I'd shrink. Now it just makes the audience think I need the bathroom. All my friends know I'm working on this and I have asked them all to tell me if they catch me shrinking. Ask the people around you to help you notice when you do things like slouch, hunch or fidget. 

How do you drink water on stage? Well, you drink water. Simples. There is no secret or professional way to do this. The important thing to know is if you need a drink take the time to have one. It will be okay. 

We then spent time talking about content. How do you sell your idea? How do you ask the audience for money or participation? How do you design slides? Do you have to use slides? 


We then gave the fellows time to digest everything we'd talked about and design a new one minute pitch about their business idea to share to the entire room. Before everyone went on stage we asked them what they wanted feedback on. This is a good habit to get into because people can only help you if they know what you are working on.


Everyone spoke for one minute and Lindsay and I gave immediate feedback with the fellows chipping in on everything from assumptions to accents. For everyone in the room it was the first time getting such immediate and direct feedback and we sure did bust a lot of myths and assumptions.


The day ended with a love bomb. This involves everyone writing on a post it note what they love and appreciate about you and sticking it to your body. Yes it's as fun as it sounds. Playing love songs in the background is optional but recommended. 


At their pitched the fellows raised 50K for their ventures and we are so proud of them.

“ I can’t tell you how helpful your session was in preparing my pitch. Felt so much less nervous than I ever have before, and made sure I grounded myself and looked into the audience before starting. You also gave me the confidence to remember that our idea is exciting and to try and convey that on stage”



Big thanks to YearHere for having us. What an incredible bunch of people - you can read all about each and every one of them here.


A huge thank you to Lindsay for being my partner in crime.

Yes - when doing the pitch last night, I was the most calm I have ever been when speaking in public

If you would like an #upfront session for your team let me know. We work with businesses in the public, private and third sector and design bespoke session based on what you need. We are also working with a range of schools.

An #upfront conversation with Michelle Tucker

Michelle Tucker, originally from Canada, moved to Stockholm to attend school last year. Before that she spent 12 years teaching snowboarding and serving in restaurants. She is a passionate feminist and recently launched The Incremental; a project to bring more creative women to the fore. She has ambitions to help people to live more slowly. 

I met Michelle via Instagram and was delighted to feature in The Incremental last week. The first time we spoke I was humbled by how openly and honestly Michelle talked about the challenges she has overcome when it comes to talking in front of people. Here’s what she has to say about public speaking, confidence and the journey she’s on with both...

I’m 34 and I’ve rarely presented outside of school. My relationship with public speaking has always been a difficult one. For as along as I can remember I’ve never enjoyed it. It’s always made me feel very nervous. Even when prompted by teachers I would pass the opportunity because it made me feel so uncomfortable. This has changed quite a bit over time but it’s taken many years.

I rarely took the opportunity to speak in front of people - even if it was informal. At school, I’d have thirty people looking at me and even though they were my friends, I would sweat and turn very red.

At Hyper Island you can’t avoid speaking in front of people. This was when things changed for me. When I got accepted into the school I knew I’d be forced into uncomfortable situations. I really wanted to challenge myself because I was feeling stagnant. I knew I needed to push myself and the majority of this pushing and challenging had to come from myself. It was time to step up. The first step was realising that I needed to make this change. I realised I’d been feeling trapped and life felt too easy - so I made a decision and with that came freedom. 

My worst case scenario is being asked to talk about myself - the combination of eyes on me and talking about myself is just too much.

How did I get better at this? Well, I knew I needed to simply do it. Even if I looked and felt stupid. So I did it and then I did it again and then over time I started pushing myself into different projects where I’d offer to pitch. I would still get sweaty and turn red but this got less and less every time I did it. 

It’s not that I have a goal of being a good presenter as such but I do have a goal of being good at connecting with people and telling stories. 

The thing that has helped me get better is just doing it over and over again. Even when it feels like a complete failure you have to keep going and do it again


If you are reading this and like me you go red and sweat and dread the thought of it try practicing in small situations where you can feel safe. This might be at dinner with friends or at home with a partner. There are always opportunities to practice, try, fail and get better. You can find opportunities to talk in front of people on a daily basis even if it’s just introducing yourself to an audience - even that used to make me feel very nervous but it really helped to make me feel more comfortable eventually.

Over time I gradually becoming more and more comfortable with the people I was presenting to but also more comfortable in trusting myself. I used to have a fear of being judged and looking stupid. I now know I have to be ok with that. Now I don’t care if I fumble and I don’t care if I go red because it happens to most people. Yet still, I have days when I feel really confident and other days I want to stay in bed. That’s okay too.

Next time you are in an audience please be the warmest face; smile and nod. This has such a calming influence for anyone who is nervous on stage


Before I do any speaking I sometimes make my body really big by stretching and breathing deeply. 

It’s very common for your mind to go completely blank when you talking in front of people. This used to happen to me and I’d leave the stage having no memory of what I actually said.


This is very common and it can be helped by following your breath - breathe a lot before you go on and breathe slower while up there. When I have to speak my heart beat gets faster sometimes I’m shaking and I don’t why because I don’t feel scared. Then because I think I look silly I feel silly. I feel like I don’t look like what I should look like. I think I should look more composed but actually I look vulnerable. 

Confidence is about feeling comfortable and relaxed. When I feel confidence I don’t question myself and I trust myself. I feel powerful. When I feel this way I’m great at conversation and can talk to strangers comfortably. I feel like I can do whatever I want. Yet, of course I have days I feel like I can’t talk to anyone and I fumble over my words. This is when your family, friends and your team support you. Sometimes, I don’t feel the way I want to feel when I have to present but I just go with it. 

Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it

The presentations I really enjoy are often a little interactive and not very stiff and they are speaking in more relaxed language. Good speakers often ask the audience questions or interacts with the audience in a way that makes you think differently. The best talks happen when speakers make fun of themselves in an authentic way. 

If you’d like to talk to Michelle about this article or share your ideas or challenges please mail her michelle.tucker@hyperisland.se

An invitation to be #upfront at TedX Birmingham

Tomorrow I will share my stage at Ted X Birmingham. The theme of the event is "Power of us" so it makes a lot of sense for me to share my power and invite you onto my stage with the big goal of changing the norm of conference curation and attendance.

Stages are not as diverse as they could be and many of us lack confidence. That's why I created #upfront and tomorrow I will share my stage with you.

This is where you come in. 

When I ask people why they aren't on stage they tell me they don't know where to start. They tell me the thought of standing on a stage facing a sea of strangers is overwhelming. I’m solving this problem through #upfront. 

How might those who are on stage support people who want to experience the stage without the scary bit? 

During my talk I will share my stage with you. You’ll sit comfortably on this fabulous couch, up front of a sea of friendly faces whilst I give my talk. You can enjoy the stage without the pressure of having to perform. Oh, and we’ll meet before hand too.

Last time I was #upfront I shared my stage with nine other people, from a 16 year old to a 40 year old who all have their own reasons for avoiding public speaking. Now they have been #upfront they have more confidence in themselves and their story. 

If you want to be #upfront and claim a space on the #upfront couch lemme know and we'll chat :) My email is myredjotter@googlemail.com

Bye for now,

Lauren x


An #upfront conversation with Lindsay Dukes

Lindsay Dukes is a writer, actor and theatre maker. She is a proud feminist and recently produced Portia; a one woman play tackling the complexities of sexual identity.

One of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon is putting the world to rights with Lindsay. Despite only knowing her for a short time I have learned a lot from her about the intricacies of the english language, posture and the life of an actor. This week we are running a workshop for twenty six young social entrepreneurs at Year Here ; bringing together our passion for equality and complimentary skill sets around story telling and stage presence. Here's what she has to say about public speaking, confidence and the journey she's on with both. 

Public speaking is scary because normally I get to hide behind a script and a character. I’m really used to getting on stage, speaking clearly and engaging an audience but it’s a very different thing when you’re stripped of the mask. 


I recently wrote a one woman play about feminism and submission which was largely autobiographical and brought me as close to public speaking as I’ve come in a long time. In ‘Portia’ I broke the fourth wall which is the invisible wall the actors usually hide behind. Usually the audience are peering into your world; actors very rarely talk directly to the audience unless it’s a soliloquy or an aside. But in ‘Portia’ I spoke openly about fairly private aspects of my life while making eye contact…at first it was incredibly scary but ultimately extraordinarily liberating. 

I’ve got all the techniques already in place to speak in front of people having trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in body and voice. What I was less used to was acknowledging that people were watching me, I had to lean into what I found at first to be an uncomfortable amount of eye contact. I realised however that eye-contact is key, as it helps you to accept that the environment is essentially one of conversation. I spoke and people responded, not with words but with focus, and sometimes laughter, but either way it was a collaborative exchange. 

I anticipated judgement, a common concern among actors (we’re all scared of people not liking us...not just actors!) but what was new with ‘Portia’ was the level of openness and honesty I was walking on stage with. That level of vulnerability felt like it could have potential for embarrassment or shame. As a female actor I’m very used to being looked at rather than listened to; now the focus was on what I had to say; I was on stage with very little make up and a hoody. During the show I talked about the intricacies of my life and inconsistencies of my personality and people’s responses were very positive. I didn’t feel judgement - I felt a lot of love actually. I’ve learned vulnerability is not only human but also an incredibly positive tool to utilise; it’s a way of cutting the facade, I think it’s probably the source of good communication and oddly, confidence. Confidence I think is a state of being where you don’t need external affirmation but you are able to listen and respond and make yourself vulnerable to external feedback. 

I work hard on liking myself and making work that I believe in while checking in with people who’s opinions I value.

How do you find confidence when standing up in front of people? The cliche of imagining them naked exists for a reason - you’re reminded that they’re just people, exposed and vulnerable like you. It’s a conversation, and what you have to say and the way that you say it is 100% unique to you, like your naked body, it’s innately interesting. 

If I had to give practical advice about speaking in public I’d say literally and physically - speak from your gut and not your head.

 Work out why what you are saying is important and say it - don’t lace stuff with academia and posh words - if you try and sound smart for the sake of it it’ll be boring and people will switch off. Utilise your enthusiasm for the topic and allow your personality to infuse us with the same interest. I enjoy presentations that are funny and authentic. I like watching a person talk about the thing they are excited about while exposing the quirks of their personality. It’s nice to match ideas to a personality. 

If you feel nervous - breathe out. A public speaker needs to be grounded and you achieve this by breathing out, slowly. It slows your heart rate and will help centre your voice. Then breath the room in, take everyone in, just a bunch of humans who you’re about to have a natter with. Enjoy. 

If you’d like to talk to Lindsay about the physical practicalities of speaking in front of people or have idea about how you’d like to tell your story please get in touch lindsay (dot) dukes (at) hotmail (dot) co (dot) uk