I wished we would run out of time
At school I would wish so hard that we would run out of time and the lesson would end so I wouldn’t have to read out loud. I thought about this today as I was driving to The Kitchen at The Wharf in Langport – my hosting venue for Somerset Art Weeks. As a child I was SO scared of speaking out loud. Reading in class, or heaven help me – public speaking!
Reading in class was a real issue for me. I still don’t like reading out other people’s words in case I mess up. I used to sit at the end of the horseshoe table setup, hoping the teacher would run out of time before I had my turn. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes it was a different teacher and they started the other way, and I was FIRST!
At some point at about 14 years old, one of the English assignments was to speak for five whole minutes about something you were passionate about. Oh, my dear lord. Really? I mean, not only did I have to think of something, I had to write it, and the speak it. I remember one old school friend knew everything about the Beatles. The group, not the bugs. She was so excited by this task. I just wanted to be sick.
If you have met me in person, you will now be scratching your head. Is this the same person?
Well, when I left college, I set up my first treatment room above a toy shop in town. This was obviously before the internet and mobile phones – I am a child of the 70s after all. I had to make my own posters for the walls, and adverts in the local paper were expensive. I needed clients desperately, so I had to put myself out there. Clients weren’t going to find me, I had to find them.
I started on the WI speaking circuit.
Having put myself on the register to speak to WI groups about Aromatherapy – in those days this was very woo-woo and not a well-known therapy at all – I soon found I was booked with a talk each month. This meant driving to the back of beyond in the dark, getting out of the car into a muddy puddle, and then sitting in a cold village hall waiting for my turn. Thankfully in the early days the groups were small. I think the ‘older ladies’ felt sorry for me. There was always lots of tea and cake, but I knew I had made the grade when I was asked to speak at North Petherton WI. I was used to groups of 10 at the most – this was a room of 103!!! One hundred and three people! I couldn’t believe it. Talk about palpitations!
That cured me of any nerves!
As my career progressed, I did my Further Education teacher training certificate, and then started teaching a couple of classes at Strode College. Therapists were taking notice of what I had to say. I got more talks booked with schools. I remember one I did for Bishop Foxes School – They wanted me to talk to the 5th years about what is expected of them when they do Work experience!
Repêchage training was next.
Fast forward a few years. I became the area trainer for Repêchage skin care and had to help on the stand at trade shows by doing Four Layer facials every hour for two days. LOTS of talking, and gathering people round the couch. I was confident about my subject and people liked the honest way I delivered the demo.
New York New York
I think the most memorable talk was in New York. I was asked by Repêchage if I would give a talk about ‘The Changing Face of the Beauty Industry in the UK over the past 50 years’ ! They would pay my travel. Would I go? YES, of course I would go! The fact I was the only speaker without a power-point presentation to go with talk, was slightly concerning, but hey ho, no time to worry now.
It turned out I didn’t need one. My voice was enough. Take that as you like…… Gobby? Confident? I was pretty petrified!! I did it.
So, coming back to this morning.
I was thinking how age changes you. How confidence levels change. Today I’ve had to approach people, and it’s just part of what I do. No point just sitting in the corner hoping people would buy art!
I’d been watching people wander in to the foyer with the Art Weeks brochure in their hands. If I didn’t catch them to bring them through into the Cafe they would walk out. That’s a potential client for me, who saw me in the booklet. So, I’ve been wandering out with an ‘Excuse me, are you here for Somerset Arts?’
I’ve always said that if people don’t like the way I tweet they won’t like the way I treat. So, if they don’t like the way I speak, they won’t want to buy the art. I think you buy into the artist. I’m confident with my job – both the therapies and now the art, but when I look back, I’m not the same person. But we aren’t the same people, are we? We change, we evolve and for me, talking to people is what I do.
Come in for a chat if you are around!
I’m not there in person for the whole two weeks although you don’t need me there to view – The Kitchen Cafe is open from 9am -4pm every day. – here is the timetable for my personal appearances!
Sunday 22nd 11.00 – 3.00
Monday 23rd 12.30 – 3.30
Friday 27th 12.00 – 3.00
Saturday 28th 10.00 – 3.00
Sunday 29th 11.00 – 3.00
Friday 4th 10.00 – 2.00
Saturday 5th 11.00 – 3.00
Sunday 6th 11.00 – 3.00