Finding your voice

Its been a busy few months at university. After 5 long months of working on my dissertation, it is finally finished! Hand in day was stressful to say the least, having spent the previous night – and early morning – at the university leavers dinner. Then it was a quick trip to the assignment office to hand in the dissy before attending the Royal Agriculture Society of England’s AGM. I had been asked to present my speech on the wool industry at the AGM, an experience which was daunting to say the least. Thankfully it seemed to be well received and I had the opportunity to meet some great industry leaders. I have been public speaking since I was 11, and it still isn’t easy, but its a skill that has helped me in so many ways. And its thanks to YFC.

Back at my YFC, public speaking has always been a marmite sort of competition. It starts with Junior Reading, a competition for the youngest members, where they read a page from a children’s book in front of a judge and steward. As members get older, the competitions move to speeches, debates and even improv, with the added pressure of an audience. Each year, members would gather at the village hall, under the misconception of a ‘mystery meeting’, only to discovered they were attending the public speaking practice night. Before they knew it, they would have agreed to join one of the teams, and be attending twice weekly practices in the run up to the first round.

But by the end of the season, the members were hooked and would be the first to put their names down for competing the following year. It helps improve confidence, and whether it be for that school presentation, job interview or just to win debates down the pub, the skills gained from public speaking competitions are invaluable. So if you’ve not already experienced the trails of debating the best make of tractor, given a speech on your favourite sheepdog or had a heated game of Just A Minute, dig out your best blazer and get involved!

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