When computer software developer Julie Kenny joined Ipswich Electrifiers in 2009 she knew she needed to develop her communication skills – but had little idea where it would take her.
Now Julie has been awarded the highest accolade given by Toastmasters International: the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).
“I initially joined Ipswich Electrifiers to meet new people, but quickly came to realise that the management and communication skills I was learning could be carried over into the workplace – and were useful in job interviews too!
At ‘lunch and learn’ sessions for computer teams at work, I’d put myself forward when I thought I had something of value to contribute. When you feel you have a voice, and can lead the conversations you want to happen, it’s very empowering.
And it’s definitely made me sleep more soundly! If I had committed to giving a presentation to the sales team or other department outside my comfort zone, I wouldn’t sleep properly and my work would suffer until the big day. At some point these meetings became enjoyable and that changed everything. I’m more relaxed in a greater range of situations, I like to speak up, and I get heard and listened to more seriously.”
On her pathway to the DTM award, Julie served as Club President, Area Director and sponsor of Chelmsford City Communicators. She also mentored members, managed meetings, and organised events as well as presenting over 40 speeches in a variety of scenarios.
But perhaps the greatest change has been in her career.
“The vision I had for a career in computing has changed completely. I have since set up my own company, Softly Inspired, and I now train others, particularly software designers, in public speaking and presenting skills.
I also work in schools with the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme; and have developed a series of presentations on women in computing which I give to organisations and groups.”
It’s a wonder Julie has any time to sleep at all.
For details of Softly Inspired’s programmes and presentations, see www.softlyinspired.co.uk