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Alumni Take on Next Challenge!

20 Feb 2018

Thanks to Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! over 19,000 young people participate in Level One of our three-tier training course, Speak Up Speak Out, every year. 23 of these students from last year’s competition were eager to develop their skills and make the shift from a good speaker to a great one, by taking Level Two, a course designed to challenge participants to get long-lasting results.

Over three days last week, three groups of sixteen-year-olds arrived at our office with excited anticipation. They all had experience of delivering a speech in front of a large group – some to an audience of over 1000 –  so what would this training day entail?  They already knew what made a good speech; they understood the fears that might hold them back; and they were good at using techniques and stories to engage people. They would discover that Level Two is more concerned with what you say, as Level One masters the skills of how to say it. Eye contact is a given; now you must really impress.

For participant Jess, Level Two was “more intense”, with a greater focus on her message. The workshop pushed her outside her comfort zone, especially when she was asked to tell a story about herself. She had “never done anything like this before” and is adamant on using her voice to speak out. Were she not to, it would be an insult, she believes, to the women who fought hard – and continue to fight – to amplify female voices.

Archie was quite nervous before the workshop and found it “hard work” at times. Despite this, he enjoyed how the training was more “specific” than Level One, embedding his talents for future speaking opportunities.

This is the second year that Speakers Trust has offered Level Two training to “Speak Out” Challenge! alumni. Not only do the students develop their communication skills, they also get a chance to see some of their competition peers again and to spend the day getting to know each other better. Often students choose to speak about personal stories or interests, which helps break down barriers and encourage personal reflection. Macsen Brown, the reigning “Speak Out” champion, spoke about the history of the Welsh language, a story which is very important to him. “Make sure you really care what you’re talking about; don’t make it generic,” he says.

Speakers Trust offers its alumni several opportunities in which they can grow as a speaker. In addition to the Level Two training, we enrol school representatives, recruit speakers for future events and run a student panel in which young people have a chance to voice their opinions and suggestions for our programmes.