My first two Years with Newbury Speakers

Rob Hoblin, 31 January 2018

Having completed a long and successful career in policing in 2014, I wanted to set myself some new personal challenges whilst working as an International trainer with my own company. I did look at some voluntary work initially but as there were so many choices, I didn’t know which one to choose and I also knew that I couldn’t commit fully to this due to my sporadic availability undertaking training delivery commitments.

One late winter evening just before Christmas in 2015, I found an advert in our local ‘what’s on’ magazine and it mentioned Newbury Speakers and particularly, the focus on improving your public speaking capability and joining a group of like-minded people.

This was exactly what I needed. On a cold and wet early December evening I drove the short journey to Newbury Rugby Football Club’s ground and found the meeting room. Having pre-announced my intended attendance by email to the information email address supplied, I was warmly welcomed by what can only be described as a very friendly welcoming committee.

The evening was split into two parts with the second part being multiple two minute table topic speaking slots, one of which I volunteered to undertake. Although I was a fairly confident police audience speaker, I found this to be a bit of a nervous experience and quite challenging but enjoyable in a funny sort of way.

I was hooked. I liked the people, the concept and the fact that I could pursue a ten-speech journey with the Competent Communicator manual and have a mentor to help me on my way. Having joined up that evening, I then had to go home and digest my public speaker’s journey.

Initially I was a bit bold and thought that I could do the ten speeches within a 12 month period but alas, this was not to be as I hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that I did a lot of training delivery abroad and that this would take me out of the country for up to 4 weeks at a time.

The ten speeches were crafted in such a way that as I progressed, the challenge of the speech type made me do more work and more practising in order to achieve the objectives set. Receiving feedback on a one to one basis and from the group, really did help to shape my future speech deliveries.

I picked up lots of hints and tips on breathing, voice projection, voice tone, use of verbal language and for me, most importantly, use of body language including my hands. I found the latter point the most difficult to achieve as I wasn’t used to using my hands and started the first few speeches with them clasped together as if they’d been superglued!

By November 2017, I successfully completed my Competent Communicator journey. I can honestly say that it’s been a challenging but very enjoyable experience and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter and hope that others can come and join me too.


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