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.
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 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.