Being #10%Braver - Part 1


As a child I had a speech impediment.

When I lost all of my front teeth in one go aged 5/6 it affected how I spoke. It was the period in language development when you learn to pronounce your consonants and sound out combinations like 'll' 'th' 'y'.

At Infant School I was referred to a speech therapist. The lasting effect being that I have never been able to properly pronounce my Rs and my French teacher never managed to get me to roll my Rs either.

At Junior School I was an aspiring actress but was never cast in an acting part. I cried each time Mr Grantham shared the confirmed roles, finding myself as narrator again. 

That is the extent of my public speaking experience during childhood. I was confident, I could hold a conversation, I was good with people & leant towards a journalistic style of interrogation getting others to open up & share.

Fast forward to my 3rd year of teaching when I became a Head of Year in a challenging boys' school in South London. I can remember presenting my 1st assembly in the sports hall to a tough crowd. I don't remember the topic, but I do remember my physical response. One of my Year 9s said to me later in a fit of giggles "Miss you were shaking like a leaf!"

As my career rapidly progressed I found myself doing more and more assemblies then more and more training. My comfort zone is me at a plinth, with a clicker in my hand. 

Over time I have become less static, more relaxed & more natural. More comfortable in my delivery style. 

My first #teachmeet presentation was March 2016, #TMlondon, a large & impressive crowd. The first time I had to wear a microphone. I had organised lots of grassroots events before but had always been the host, not the speaker. I can remember @jillberry‍ 's surprise at my secret. 

I had never seen myself on camera presenting before. I hated how I sounded, how I rocked & the way my mouth moved. My speech impediment chimp Rory (or Wowy) sat on my shoulder & whispered malicious words in my ear, taunting me.

I refused to let this stop me. I instead arranged some public speaking training & enjoyed a day with The Speakers Trust reflecting on what we say, how we say it, how it is delivered, how it is received.

My first formal public speaking training, ever. 

Ping. An email pings in & @jazampawfarr‍ challenges @nataliescott‍ and I to join her in living the #womened values by submitting an application for #TEDxNorwichEd. I didn't hesitate, I rose to the challenge, not really expecting to be selected.

My first dual keynote was in November at the SSAT conference. I took a colleague with me to contribute her experience of our Diversity programme. I had a tough crowd, the session had been mis-titled & the room was full. We ploughed on. 

Part 2:

Author Profile

Hannah Wilson

Hannah Wilson

Executive Headteacher | DfE Coach | #WomenEd Co-Founder | SLE | NPQML/SL facilitator | NPQH | Governor | Leadership Matters Ambassador

238 stories


Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 7 months ago
I think it's brilliant that you're so open and honest, Hannah - it makes your achievements all the more impressive that you have had to battle some demons and prove yourself to yourself. You speak with conviction, passion, clarity and commitment. Onwards and upwards!
Anoara Mughal Anoara Mughal @ano 6 months ago
Thank you for being honest and leading from the heart. You always inspire me.
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