Coming out of your comfort zone: Speaking for Artists

Of course as an artist you have fascinating stuff to say, but if public speaking is out of your comfort zone, it’s not that easy. Rest assured, you are not alone; it’s the same for most people. Luckily, the tools to help with nerves and make positive changes are simple to learn. Over two evenings, this workshop will help you with try-outs and techniques to simplify and enhance how you speak about your art or creative practice. The confidence you gain will help with speaking to the press, giving an artist talk or networking at special events.

The sessions will combine easy exercises, accessible tools and honest, kind feedback. We will cover: speaking more easily ‘off the cuff’, how to put across your ideas in an concise format, planning a structure for a talk which both helps you remember it bring it to life.

The coaching will highlight your natural strengths, help with distracting habits and offer tips to enhance your presence as an authoritative speaker. It will start to come more naturally.

Maggie Sawkins has much experience in learning to speak in public and as a ‘recovering shy person’ and fellow artist, is an ideal tutor. She trains with clarity, warmth & a light touch and will ensure you progress easily and effortlessly.

She has been speaker and MC at large speaking events, on topics from ‘Mediation in the Met’, ‘What else to wear!’ (a speech about accessories) to ‘The Joy of Burnout’. She has taught thousands of teenagers and hundreds of adults (bridegrooms, judges, jobseekers) to put themselves across in a way that works.

Maggie really helped me with my first major presentation and she’s amazing. It’s like she knows all the secrets – she’s got it! I recommend her unreservedly.” Joe Moran, Artistic Director, Dance Art Foundation

This course will run over two evenings: Tuesday 23rd & 30th July 2013: 18.30 – 21.00pm.

Hackney Downs Studios
5 – 9 Amhurst Terrace
London E8 2BT

The ticket price of £85 includes both sessions (5hrs coaching)
Book on Eventbrite here: “”>

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Wonderful women, turning new leaves…

‘Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present…  Author of her own life, participating fully in her recovery with its gifts and challenges…remaining loyal to herself. I am that woman’

Take a group of women; possibly recovering addicts, maybe living with mental health challenges or reforming from a crime habit? What changes might they have made, what might they say about the world do you think?

The quote above Celia had on the front of her folder as she walked in for the ‘Speak Up! Speak Out!’ workshop – she reads it every day she told me – to remind and strengthen her.

As Evelyn arrived, on time, to the complete amazement of the support worker, I felt her power and I stayed as present and warm as I could. There is no substitute for warm eye contact: n every training situation we are all strangers at the start. In another context I might find myself a bit intimidated. But this is not about me, and as you’ll discover, I was blown away by the power of these particular women.

I’ve had my share of personal challenges. I know a bit about the ramifications of addiction, and I’ve understood some of what it takes to change habits that no longer serve me. Some of the women hinted at having done time, we didn’t discuss it further.

The beauty of training people to speak from the heart is exactly that: they do. Every single being on this earth has some great stuff to say once given the chance. I know this from witnessing it over and over, young or old, privileged or struggling. I’ve heard inspirational speeches in the most ordinary of classroom settings.

After a few hours of training, five three-to-five minute speeches were delivered with passion and without notes. And then one, rousingly political speech given by a Angel who dropped in for the last hour to listen; was moved to join in with no pressure from any of us. Here is a hint of what they said:

Sitting in the local park at lunchtime was the prompt for one speaker; to include the orators and writers buried there: John Wesley, Daniel Defoe, William Blake amongst others. She inspired us with her speaking out, us to relish our city.

‘Come as you are’ was the opener the next speaker gave; the still, small voice which led her to make a turnaround from criminal activity to faith. She finds peace being in church. Earlier in the day she’d been quiet. This time her voice strengthened as she impassioned us all to value self-acceptance: ‘come as you are’.

Yvonne told the stories of two disaffected young women, whom she had helped to find trust in people. She encouraged us to spread a little happiness, say hello to those you see on the street. Be the change you want to see. It’s simple.

The beat passes through your body and comes out as movement’. Have you heard a better description of dancing? This, from Sandra who has found her path away from crime includes holistic, calming activities that keep her mentally free For her that includes teaching Zumba dance: which as we saw it in her passionate speech helpd her stay whole and happy.

We heard impassioned identification of the all the things we need in life: homes, street lighting, parks… how all these and more are a reason to be political. And how women make such great politicians. This was from a women, who only dropped in for the last hour, to watch!

And finally… a woman who’s own light-bulb moment came in the form of wanting to create a support system for young people to get their own ideas started. The moment the idea comes, the positive thought leading to positive action. She’s going to be there to coach and encourage others inspired by the changes she’s been able to make.

I wish we could have bottled the essence of that afternoon. It would contain passion, care, courage and huge self-belief. No matter how many nerves there may have been, at the notion of speaking for four-minutes, without notes: when it came to it this wonderful day proved the need to express one’s true self, can carry each of us through. Any person can become a great speaker.

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Getting started: public speaking; interview, wedding or conference

Here’s a three minute video to get your started:

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Gently does it… We can all do it!

How I teach public speaking in the gentlest way possible:

Very gradual learning by easy methods: they feel effortless and fun. you’ll find yourself incorporating tools without effort; natural energy and enthusiasm takes you along. We will weave together the natural abilities you use every day as a speaker and your experiences with useful tools. The sessions will lead you along gradually and with little stress, without having to jump into scary stuff.

My job is to support with honest, kind and encouraging feedback highlighting those natural strengths, distracting habits and ways to enhance your presence as an authoritative, powerful and human speaker. It becomes easy to put across the essence of what you need or want to get heard. Others will love to listen. You might even enjoy it!

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Create a wonderful wedding speech…

What a wonderful thing it is – to say how you really feel. My friend Nick, had this opportunity with his only daughter getting married. He called me in to coach on his speech preparation. It was a dream to sit across from him at dinner and hear the stories and the heartfelt stuff he was planning to say. With a few suggestions, he slightly rearranged his speech structure, took on some thoughts re how to open and close, and even took my advice to practice in the mirror in the days beforehand. He later told me just how bowled over his daughter was. He helped to make her wedding day: it doesn’t get better than that. Follow this link to find some simple and amazingly useful tips: Link

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A bit on burnout

Looking back to my own burnout, it’s actually impossible to recall it in all it’s aspects. I know this much: on my second wedding anniversary, I was in a lovely hotel with a stunning sea view, feeling exhausted in heart, body and mind. I walked alone around Brighton town centre to find a cotton gift for my husband – having had no ounce of will nor energy to do it before then – and bought a nice but plain white vest. It was the most I could muster. I was spent. Within days, I handed in my re-drafted job description for re-grading to my new boss, spoke to the employee assistance people who suggested I get to the GP and was promptly on sick leave for a fortnight. It eventually turned out to be much, much longer. What led up to this state…how did I get there?

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Welcome to my new site!

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