“Why do people get Voice and Speech Coaching?” you may well ask.
Here are some success stories which illustrate the wide variety of people who come to BESPOKEN.
Case Study 4: A Graduate needing Interview Skills
“Self-praise is no praise”
An oft-repeated phrase one heard growing up in Roman Catholic Ireland, it’s the opposite of what we need to do as a business owner, promoting our services!
Fortunately, two of my clients wrote such eloquent and descriptive recommendations that I decided to share them here.
For reasons of distance, all sessions were done over Skype and because of the technical nature of Tyrone’s qualification, my Associate, Andrew Scott, took some sessions as well as the usual practice of joining me for the usual mock interviews at the end. The recommendations are taken from LinkedIn.
Beverley Arnold knew about my work from a conversation in South Africa in 2018. She wrote:
“Interviewing for a first job can be a daunting process, but actually getting an interview is even harder to do. Degrees, Diplomas and High School certificates are an essential part of the process of becoming a member of employed and financially independent adult society. It is difficult to place a value on those years of effort in acquiring a useful and in-demand skillset if one remains unemployed after graduating. Doing well in a course and building the said skill set does not build one’s self-esteem and give one confidence if they are not getting one past the start line in the recruitment process.
“BESPOKEN offers the opportunity to open those doors in the recruitment process by coaching and thoroughly preparing the candidate for the recruitment process. The course is thorough and individualised and is based on the first interview and assessment, where goals and concerns are discussed, strengths and weaknesses are established.
“Candidates are then guided through the recruitment process, beginning with a general strategy, CV preparation and evaluation, interview processes and styles, and effective communication, from written format to spoken format. Our son, a Georgraphic Information Systems (GIS) honours graduate had been actively looking for work for 4 months, without much success.
“Within 2 weeks of working with BESPOKEN, he was getting numerous responses after submitting his CV, had a number of interviews with prospective employers and was offered 2 positions. He is now gainfully employed and confidently interacting with his bosses and peers. The skills gained as a result of working with BESPOKEN will continue to be useful throughout his career.”
My client and her son, Tyrone, wrote:
“Having graduated with Honours in GIS and travelling, I returned to South Africa expecting to find a job relatively easily. The reality was entirely different – I struggled for 4 months before approaching BESPOKEN for coaching.
Starting right at the basics, Fiona worked with me to construct a CV which, when completed, immediately started generating interest from companies. From there, we moved on to interview preparation – starting with how to conduct effective research into prospective companies which puts one on the front foot going into an interview. Subsequent to this, we tackled the interview process itself – from questions and answers to diction and positive body language.
“Next, Fiona and her associate conducted several mock interviews with me and reviewed the positives and negatives of my performance in each one. Additionally, prior to each real interview I attended, we would conduct a mock interview as if I were interviewing with that company. As part of the entire coaching process, Fiona taught me a routine which included physical, vocal and presence exercises which helped me to centre myself and feel relaxed before beginning an interview. This process meant that, before I even spoke, I was already projecting the right attitude toward the interviewers.
“At the end of the process, I had offers from several companies and was able to negotiate a highly competitive starting salary, which BESPOKEN also supported. The skills that I learned through BESPOKEN are not isolated to the process of searching for a job; in my current role, they are invaluable to interfacing with clients and peers within my company. I really cannot recommend the service BESPOKEN offers enough: I went from struggling to get interviews to getting a jumpstart to my career.”
I have to say, I am humbled by the time and effort both Bev and Tyrone took to write this. If you know someone or are someone who wants the support of a coach through the interview process, please get in touch and let’s book a conversation to see what I can do for you.
Case Study 3: “As nervous as a bride” – The Wedding Speech
Speaking in front of family or others who have known you all your life can fill the bravest person with dread. Abigail* is a competent businesswoman with years of experience, but all this didn’t matter when she was asked to do a reading at a family wedding:
I was asked by my niece me to read a piece of poetry at her wedding and I’d not presented for over a decade. When I had it was in a business environment; I felt my skills discussing the finer points of a PowerPoint presentation weren’t of much help reading poetry!
Abigail wanted to build her confidence so she could handle a very different form of public speaking at a very important family event. After covering the basics of relaxation, breath control, support and posture, we moved on to using the voice effectively for delivery and projection.
Fiona has a very supportive teaching style which helps tackle even the most challenging of tasks. Over the lessons she taught me a number of new techniques to help me understand the natural pace and flow of the poem and built my confidence.
Abigail was very engaged and the poem we had to work with was lovely, which always helps! There’s nothing quite like a deadline to get a student motivated but she was really interested in learning the nuances of delivering poetry in a way that was gentle yet impactful.
Afterwards, I always schedule a debrief with my clients so they can reflect and celebrate. Of course, if things don’t go well, such as an unsuccessful interview, it’s really helpful to gather information for next time. Failure is not an option with a once-off speech, so success is essential. I asked Abigail how it went: “I knocked it out of the park!”
Although on the day I still felt nervous presenting in front of everyone, I knew I had the skills and confidence that Fiona had instilled in me which allowed me to read the poem confidently in front of friends and family. I would definitely recommend Fiona If you every need to prepare for any form of public speaking. She has a very supportive teaching style, peppered with tips and techniques which allow you to fully get to grips with the text and how to present it with style and confidence.
Case Study 2: From Childhood Passion to University Presentation
The lessons helped make me conscious of presenting to an audience and not just doing it for myself.
Returning clients and students are a fairly regular occurrence. Different life stages place different demands on our communication needs and abilities. Jessica Briggs started with me as a child and returned this year as a young woman preparing for her final presentation at Cardiff Metropolitan University where she is an undergraduate in Business Studies.
Jess Briggs, 2005-8 and 2018
Jess was a lovely student as a child, exemplifying the two most important traits of an actor, in my opinion, humility and generosity.
As a child, I loved the idea of performing and was always interested in taking drama classes, so when my parents finally agreed to let me attend drama lessons at M A D Studio, I was over the moon.
Improving confidence through performance
With her warmth and enthusiasm, Jess learned skills in drama that served her well.
I did group drama lessons with Fiona for a couple of years. In this time, I learnt to act, improvise, and deliver recitals. It really helped me with my confidence as a child and taught me how to express myself effectively.
April 2018 – Final University Presentation
I came back for one-to-one coaching lessons with Fiona as I noticed when I was delivering numerous presentations at University I was becoming nervous and not delivering them as effectively as I knew I could. Having previously attended drama lessons with Fiona, I was aware of my potential and wanted to progress to this level of ability again.
Jess really engaged with the exercises and took the techniques on board quickly. We had 4 half-hour lessons with the presentation to ensure that Jess was speaking out, expressing the internal confidence she had in her chosen topic.
Jess went away after each lesson to put into practice what she had learnt and came back more confident and delivering competently. “I haven’t delivered any presentations yet, but I feel the lessons with Fiona have helped me refresh my skills. I definitely feel it has helped remind me of my abilities and regain my confidence.”
Just more practice required
Jess did her presentation in May and it was well received. “Thank you! I know I am capable of presenting well and having the lessons really helped. I think I probably need to get myself in front of an audience more and in a situation where I might feel nervous or slightly uncomfortable. The lessons helped make me conscious of presenting to an audience and not just doing it for myself.”
There’s no substitute for getting out there and doing it, but how great to have the techniques in your toolbox to make it really work!
Case Study 1: 0 – 50 surgeons in 12 weeks
I must say what you taught me changed my way of presenting forever. I give presentations fairly often now.
Eddy was asked to give a presentation to 50 surgeons about an interesting idea he had. He is a perfusionist on a surgical team and has intimate knowledge of the team dynamics in theatre. But he also had a passion for flying and knew how the success of a safe flight depends on the team effort of a cockpit crew. He was impressed by the team dynamics in the cockpit and wanted to bring some of this into the surgical theatre, for the improvement of patient prognosis and safety? Hence the invitation.
“I had one problem,” Eddy shared. “I had never given a presentation before, let alone to a prestigious group of top surgeons!”
He approached Fiona to see if she could help, having read an article about her work in the local newspaper.
”After listening to Eddy, we wrote an outline for his presentation together. It was a brilliant idea and he was so passionate and enthusiastic about it, I knew it could be a brilliant presentation.”
Stage 1: Preparing for flight
Fiona put together a simple PowerPoint entitled Crew Resource Management in a Surgical Context which took the audience from identifying aspects of CRM, considerations around effective communication and situational awareness and how that can be applied in a surgical context. That was all inside Eddie’s area of expertise and comfort zone.
Stage 2: The runway
The next stage was delivery and was going to be a bigger challenge. But it was made easier because Eddy could now see his ideas in pictures and points. Fiona continues, “After some initial lessons on posture, breathing and relaxation, Eddy began practising his presentation aloud. I was able to teach him vocal and physical techniques for audience engagement which increased his confidence in his message being received and understood.
Ultimately, I wanted Eddy to enjoy the experience. If he could enjoy the presentation, surely that increased the likelihood of his audience enjoying it too! And perhaps he would even want to present again.”
Stage 3: Takeoff!
Eddy’s presentation at the conference in 2002 was a huge success. He was congratulated afterwards on both content and delivery. “I remember Eddy coming to me for our debrief lesson and his face beaming with delight. Someone had said he must have done presentations before. He was thrilled!”
Eddy Zwicky, April 2018
Recently, Bespoken approached Eddy to ask if we could use his experience as a case study. He wrote,
I must say what you taught me changed my way of presenting forever. I give presentations fairly often now. Especially on *ECMO in which I’ve taken a great interest.
*ECMO is Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.
Mr Edward Alan Zwicky is a Clinical Technologist in Cardio-Vascular Purfusion in Gauteng, South Africa. He is a regular speaker at conferences and events. His passion for bikes has taken over from his passion for planes.