I am a Virgin – My first experience at PONY Express
‘I’m a virgin!’ I shouted when Elliot Kay, one of the hosts of the evening asked ‘who has never attended a PONY Express Speakers Club event before?’ I soon realised I wasn’t the only virgin in the room!
PONY Express Speakers Club
A friendly energetic group of people find themselves collectively brought together by the talented Annik Rau. Annik founded PONY Express Speakers Club in 2011 after struggling to find a place that offers a stage to people who want to use public speaking as part of growing their business, running workshops or doing platform selling. The existing places she found did provide peer-to-peer feedback, which is good for starting out but they don’t feature professional and experienced teachers on a regular basis or tailored long-term training modules.
What an amazing platform she has created. They started a Members Club at the beginning of the year and with now approximately 50 members (and growing), Annik’s humble approach and enthusiasm creates such warmth – it is not surprising her business is becoming so successful.
Before the evening really got going, I mingled amongst the crowd. I found myself talking to a lecturer, a digital video marketer, a business coach and a guy who had to deliver a Best Man speech at an up and coming wedding! What an eclectic mix – all there because they want to create impact when speaking to an audience – authentically.
Elliot Kay, also know as The Coach with the Hat and part of the business provided the intro to the evening and guest MC Nav explained the programme of the night to everyone. If you are wondering where the name ‘PONY Express’ originated from, Elliot kindly took a few minutes to educate us. Back in 1860 America the PONY Express was a mail delivery serves where young pony riders risked their lives delivering a message. The point being, a message had to be delivered and this is what The PONY Express Speakers Club does support you with when you are ‘risking your life and reputation’ stepping into the limelight to deliver your message with impact, clarity and authenticity.
How to be PRESENT on Stage
The event was kicked off by guest speaker Todd Acamesis, a Spiritual Teacher. He was speaking on ‘how to be PRESENT on stage’. He really highlighted the importance of being authentic with your words.
Be yourself, relax into the flow and talk from the heart.
He emphasised the point of being ‘present’ by not allowing the mind to wander and distract you. We were soon given the opportunity to put this into practice ourselves. We (the audience and students) found ourselves being asked to establish a group of four and one person to talk from the heart about a given subject. The topic for the impromptu exercise was: ‘If there was one thing you could change in the world today, what would it be?’. Ever the enthusiast, I eagerly volunteered myself to talk about the first topic that entered my head …and that was – trees. Talking from my heart and not my head, i.e not even thinking about what I was saying I found words flowing out of my mouth effortlessly for 90 seconds. The feedback from the group was really surprising! Comments such as ‘structured well’, ‘passionate’, ‘really well delivered’… I have never talked to ‘Joe Public’ in all my life, let alone on a subject that literally just popped into my head. It certainly boosted my confidence beyond measure!
The evening progressed with more eager voluntary speakers. A panel of three judges, all of whom are experienced presenters or public speakers, carefully observed each speaker and responded with constructive feedback covering areas like confidence, delivery and body language.
For anyone feeling the fear for speaking in public or to a large audience, this is a great place to learn and practice in a fun and friendly environment; supported by professional advice. You are guaranteed to fall in love with public speaking and make new friends along the way!
PONY Express Speakers Club July 2013, The Science of Being Present
Michelle Offord at Black Grape Consultancy