My Keynote Speech Experience

07 December 2016


So. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but a few months ago, I was given the opportunity to give a keynote speech at a conference about languages, run by the Open University at a conference centre in Edinburgh!

This opportunity was given to me by my college, who wanted those of us studying Mandarin to explain why we'd chosen to study it. Such an incredible opportunity, which I'm extremely grateful to have been given!

So. A keynote speech. I'd argue that this was the highlight of my 2016, and given that I have a history of anxiety, it's one of the most impressive things I've ever challenged myself to do - and it went so well. SPOILER ALERT, I had a bunch of people come up to me afterwards to congratulate myself, and Lauren (who I gave the speech with.)

The selection process

So, how did I get picked for this opportunity?

The head lecturers came through into my Mandarin session and told us about the opportunity. They told us that they wanted someone to give their experience of language, why they've chosen to study it, and how we can use language in our future - to link into this, they wanted to hear about how languages can be incorperated into higher education.

Three of us wanted to givew the keynote; myself, Lauren and Caitlin. We were then asked to give a quick 2 minute explanation on what we could say in the speech. I had my history of French in Primary School and High school, the want to be able communicate with a multilingual child in the nursery I worked with, and the future perspective of what I hope to achieve. Lauren had her language experience at school and her job, and also had her own vision of her future that was different from mine. For this reason, we were both chosen.

We were given a hand on developing our powerpoint, and a checklist on what we should include in our speeches. We then practised it a few times in front of our classmates, who were to sit around the round tables at the conference, and then before we knew it, it was time to go live.

Giving the speech
When the day arrived for us to stand in front of the 50 or so professionals. We were 3rd or 4th on the agenda so as we sat listening to those before us in deep anxiety.

20 minutes later and it was time to stand up. Our powerpoint had previously been sent to the organisers and was ready for set up. It was time.

I went first; talking about why I enjoy studying languages, which you can find here in a previous post. Lauren made her points and then finally.. It was over.

It was surprised by how my anxiety had went away while I was talking. Once we had both said our thanks, we looked over at our lecturers, who were grinning and clapping for us. It was nice to think that we'd done them proud.

Afterwards, during the recess, we were approached by various people who were congratulating us and telling us how interesting it was to hear our perspectives. They liked my future aims, and they liked Lauren's love of language. It was during one of these conversations that I managed to spill my tea right down my sleeve. I think I scared that person away.

I did struggle with anxiety. After my first round table experience, I had to sit out from any more just to compose myself and try not to panic. However, it was such an incredible experience, and I'm so grateful to City of Glasgow College for giving my the chance to do it, and to now have this as something to put onto my CV.

What was also super great, was that after the speech, during lunch, the organisers came up to us all and presented us with a £20 gift voucher to use at ANY book store! I'm still to use it and I'm so excited.

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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