Hi Genderbuzzers! My name’s Shola Kaye and I run a public speaking company called ‘Speak Up like a Diva’. I’m also the author of the book How to be a DIVA at public speaking. However, my professional life was once VERY different and I want to share my story with you of how my first job many years ago sowed the seeds for the woman I am today and what I do now to help others become public speaking pros just like me!
My ‘American Dream’ I was straight out of graduate school with a freshly minted masters degree in Analytical Chemistry when I went off to work for a management consulting company in the USA with absolutely zero corporate experience. Like many new graduates I was required to ‘blag it’ in my first job, which involved pretending to have the gravitas and experience to advise clients who’d been in their industries for years. I was supposed to do this with no training or help whatsoever and ‘to learn on the job’! Except that I was never really one for faking it (at work, at least!) and found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. I was desperate to add value but as a complete newbie I didn’t want to speak up and put my foot in my mouth in front of knowledgeable clients, potentially embarrassing both myself and my company. I admit – I was struggling. To top it all, I’d been assigned to work with the company’s most prestigious client, a household name global investment bank, so there was even more pressure to put on a good show and do my mid-sized consulting company proud.
My employer eventually saw that I was floundering and yes, they could have done one of the following: 1. Recommended a book for me to read, 2. Given me a mentor, 3. Sent me on a training course. Instead, guess what? – they put me on PROBATION! Stress Central!
Up until this point, I had never encountered any academic or work-related struggles, and I’ll be honest with you, I was worried. It put me under enormous extra pressure because the H1B visa I needed to stay in the USA was tied to my employment. No visa? – No party and I’d be on the next plane back to London. It was such a stressful time for me and the pressure at work mounted by a factor of 10, not to mention that as a conscientious and hardworking young person I felt embarrassed and ashamed about being on probation.
Sisterhood saves the day Fortunately for me, the situation was salvaged when a kindly female colleague swooped in and offered to help me. She took me under her wing and generously agreed, (without the company asking her or paying her extra), to arrive at work a half hour early a couple of days a week to give me extra coaching. With my colleague’s help and guidance I soon managed to turn things around and went on to become a key part of the project team and highly valued by the client. Wuhu!
So what did I learn and where did this experience take me? This whole experience showed me that some people are slower starters than others but of no less value when given the right tools to shine. A bit of friendly support is often all we need. Maybe I was unlucky to be at a firm that didn’t provide any training, or it may be the norm but my heart now goes out to any woman that finds herself in a similar situation. What I REALLY needed at that time was an online coaching course I could access at home but at the time, online courses weren’t readily available. I was already working long hours at the consultancy with the occasional weekend in the office which made it difficult to find time to seek out and attend external courses and training. That’s why, years later, I decided to start my own business designing coaching courses to help people build their communication skills based on my own experiences of not speaking up and ‘Speak up like a Diva’ was born!
FAST FORWARD TO 2018 and I’m an award-winning speaker and author – yes ME the ex-office Wallflower – and for the past 15 years I have also been performing internationally as a professional singer. My first book. ‘How to be a D.I.V.A. at Public Speaking’, provides readers like you with female role-models from the world of entertainment, (sidestepping the usual references to Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln) and my company ‘Speak Up Like A D.I.V.A’ , provides workshops, coaching and training to both individuals and corporates who want to build their own or their staff’s communication skills.
So, what’s in store for you at ‘Speak up like a Diva’ in 2018? In a few months’ time I will be publishing my second book ‘Speak Up On The Spot’ which I have designed to help you speak up persuasively during meetings, to create last-minute presentations and to answer difficult questions at work as smoothly as any politician. I often meet women who express feelings of low confidence when it comes to speaking under pressure and I want this book to address this. ‘Speak up on the Spot’ will include a variety of speaking frameworks as well as expert interviews with barristers, sales trainers, improvisation experts and others who have the edge on thinking and speaking on their feet. There’ll also be advice on mindset and delivery techniques from psychologists and coaches that will help YOU stay cool and look poised! So look out for it!
‘Speak up on the the Spot’ for corporates
I have run workshops on this topic and they I have proven very popular. In fact style magazine ‘Harpers Bazaar’ recently picked up the session for their ‘Bazaar at Work series’. As a result I received several enquiries and follow up bookings from a variety of industries ranging from hair and beauty to asset management! Everyone wants to be a decent speaker at work and I can help. There will also be a ‘Speak Up On The Spot’ corporate keynote and online course to support the learning. I know from experience that employees and entrepreneurs alike are hungry for interactive digital training that will help them increase confidence, think on their feet and stay sharp at work. So if you work in the corporate world and need help making impactful presentations let me know and book a half-day or one-day workshop for your company today.
The thing is, I know how much I could have used a similar training all those years ago and my transformation from office wallflower to public speaking pro could have been sooo much easier, that’s why I’m so passionate about my company. Who knows, if I had taken that training, perhaps I’d still be a management consultant today?
I look forward to hearing from you – Shola
Buy my book: How to be a DIVA at public speaking
Book a public speaking course: https://www.sholakaye.com