Case Study – Sue France
Building confidence speaking to groups.
“The most important lesson Catherine taught me is that only you can say what you want to say.” – Sue France
Sue France is the founder of the successful Facebook business networking group, Sue France – Creative Connecting in Cheshire. She runs networking activities, events and workshops to inspire and encourage business women to connect and raise their profile.
Eleven years ago, upon retirement from the fashion industry and a change in personal circumstances, Sue took on a franchise for Forward Ladies networking. Having never had to stand up and speak in public before, Sue found herself thrust into the spotlight – a place she feared and felt uncomfortable. She had no idea what to say to the expectant groups of women attending her events, or how to say it.
Self-assured in a one-to-one situation, Sue had a genuine fear of speaking in front of groups. When invited to talk to an audience of 100 about networking, her fear took hold. Sue froze. She asked an advocate of Forward Ladies to speak on her behalf. The substitute didn’t land the important message Sue had intended to deliver. Sue was disappointed in herself and knew she had to take action to conquer her fear.
Sue signed up to Catherine’s three-day speaker training programme to build her confidence speaking in public. The training took place the day before a small event where she would test out her new presenting skills. Sue wanted to be able to stand up, engage her audience and enjoy the experience.
How the training worked
The programme attracted participants with varying levels of public speaking experience and ability. To break the ice, Catherine began by asking each participant to share their story. Sue had a very emotive personal story to tell and shared it with trepidation.
Catherine went on to show the group some practical tools and techniques to capture the audience and engage them in your subject. Over the three days, with additional homework tasks, participants learned how to stand and move around the stage, how to involve their audience and cut out repetition and rambling.
After honing and practising their new found skills, the group refined and re-shared their personal stories.
The day after the training course, Sue confidently and calmly stood up in front of her event delegates in Liverpool and gave an opening speech. She no longer shies away from public speaking engagements or large audiences. In fact, Sue jumps at the chance to speak out and grow her audience.
Since completing the training Sue has spoken at many large events, including an International Women’s Day event for Costa Women in Marbella and the Women in Law group. As Patron of the charity Gift of a Wedding, Sue also shares her personal story with audiences of up to 250 people.
As well as hosting her own networking events, Sue now trains other people to network and craft and deliver their own elevator pitch. Catherine and Sue also work together on Phenomenal Woman, a workshop that helps women to increase their impact and influence by elevating their speaking skills.
“Before I met Catherine, the only public speaking I could manage was introducing a speaker by name and I couldn’t wait to sit down again! Catherine’s training transformed everything – my outlook, confidence level, the way I structure a talk and land my message. I’ll never forget the feeling of pure elation when I addressed those people in Liverpool. I felt positive and in control.
The most important lesson Catherine taught me is that only you can say what you want to say. She helped me to tell my story in the most natural way. Catherine has such a gentle, calming approach. She’s sympathetic to each person’s ability and confidence level.
Believe me, she will change your life. I’m her biggest advocate and pick up something new every time I listen to her. Even the most experienced of speakers can learn something from her training.
Compared to some, I’m still a quiet person but I now feel confident to get up on a stage or in front of a large group and speak out. I sometimes even speak out spontaneously without any nerves. Now, when someone asks me to speak at an event, I say Yes!”