The EBS 60 Second Interview – Clodagh Phelan
Clodagh is currently VP-Mentoring at Early Bird Speakers. A writer, copywriter and blogger, her ‘career path’ has been anything but normal, whatever that is. Law, social work, advertising and some rather more unusual jobs have offered rich experiences that are reflected in her books and indeed in her speeches. She is soon to publish two novels, initially on Kindle and later in paperback.
A passionate champion of the underdog, both human and animal, she takes a great interest in criminal justice, has volunteered with homeless people and currently does so with A.C.E. a wonderful organisation that rescues dogs in Spain. She also writes their English blog.
What brought you to EBS?
Iain Scott. We were both members of the Islington Chamber of Commerce. I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. I should have taken a clue from the very stern instruction ‘Don’t be late!’
Was it everything you expected?
Not at first. I thought I was coming to join ‘a group of friends who get together to practice public speaking’ to quote our president! I envisaged about ten people clustered in a room above a pub or some such. Having members bounce up to me, hands outstretched to shake mine, when my eyes were barely open, was somewhat of a culture shock.
How long have you been a Member?
Two years this month – September 2014
Did you have any expectations before you came?
No – see earlier question.
Were your expectations fulfilled?
It’s been a wonderful experience but I can’s say expectations were fulfilled as the only ones I had were incorrect! But in terms of what I came to expect – growing confidence as a speaker – yes, more than fulfilled. I set myself the goal of finishing the Competent Communicator manual in a year and that pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me something to aim for.
What surprised you most about EBS?
The friendliness and support. The genuine care and concern of members towards each other. The extraordinary mix of people from all backgrounds, professions, age groups, cultures and lifestyles. It’s a constant learning experience – quite apart from the pubic speaking aspect.
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
To be myself. I sort of am anyway but I thought I had to be different in some way when speaking. I’ve also found I can make people laugh and I love that. Though it doesn’t work if I try. I’m also learning not to make snap judgments about people. Oh, and I’ve learnt that the audience is far more important than my nerves.
What is special about EBS?
Where do I start? Friendship and support are a given. I greatly admire the bravery and honesty of people who share their personal stories – this takes great courage. It also creates bonds and deepens relationships.
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
Hard to single out any one thing – see all of the above especially the last question. I also love the fact that there is so much new stuff to learn. Many of the speeches offer fascinating information and I love the intellectual stimulation.
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
That I am more confident.
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
I’m much more confident as a speaker. However, the confidence goes beyond speaking because my friends and fellow members have given me the gift of self-belief. Also EBS has confirmed my suspicion that somewhere inside me there’s an actress trying to get out.
What was your biggest fear before you came?
Other big fears were THE RED LIGHT and THE BELL.
Is that still your biggest fear?
Not any more – I got over it by deliberately running over, just once, and I didn’t drop down dead or get booted out of the Brownies so after that it didn’t bother me so much.
My memory is still pretty bad but I have learnt to give speeches about things I know, and that helps.
How does public speaking impact your life?
Although I’ll probably never get rid of the nerves, I am no longer so worried about speaking in public. Also I’m much more relaxed when teaching and giving workshops. However, the greatest gift has been a growing self-belief that affects every aspect of my life and I owe that to my friends and fellow members at EBS.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
Every Thursday morning I ask myself what the …. do I think I’m doing, dragging myself out of bed at 5am? But I do get out of bed because it’s fun and a challenge.