The Power of Didcot Speakers

If you had said to me a year ago that one day, I would be giving a speech on leadership dressed as Dolly Parton, I would have thought you had seriously lost the plot!  But as you can see from the photo, that’s exactly what I did this week at a Zoom meeting of Didcot Speakers.  And we went global – with Toastmasters members from USA joining us (clearly word had got out that Dolly Parton was making a guest appearance!!)

For those of you who know me well, you will probably find my recent interest in public speaking somewhat bizarre.  I am quite shy, a natural introvert.  Taking centre stage really isn’t me and yet there is something magical about Didcot Speakers that pulls you in and gently nudges you forwards.  When I went along to my first meeting 12 months ago, I didn’t really know what to expect or indeed why I was going but I came away feeling totally inspired after listening to such confident and engaging speakers.

The energy and enthusiasm of this club is infectious and whilst we have to follow Toastmasters rules, we are a relatively new club and are creating our own unique path.  Individually we are there for our own reasons and have our own goals but collectively we support each other to achieve those goals.  It’s a safe and supportive environment in which to learn and grow, whether you want to improve your public speaking or just gain more confidence with your communication skills.

There is no pressure to take roles or do a speech.  You go at your own pace with what works for you.  Whatever you decide, everyone is willing you on. And it’s also fun.  Great fun.

As we entered lockdown, the club transitioned quickly to meetings on Zoom.  I really struggled with the first meeting, so much so that I contemplated not going to the next one.  I missed the camaraderie and the closeness of the physical meetings.  There is such a buzz that I think is so unique to Didcot Speakers – how could this possibly be replicated on Zoom?   And this is perhaps where the true power of Didcot Speakers lies.  Within a few meetings, the group had created a ‘virtual buzz’ and the energy was flowing and the laughter and chat ringing out once again.

Didcot Speakers has taken someone with serious glossophobia (a term for a fear of public speaking) and 12 months later given them the confidence to deliver a speech on leadership, sporting a ridiculous, blonde, curly wig.   That to me, is power.

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