Catherine Sandland, Owner of White Hart Training Ltd
Helping professional people who ‘know their stuff’ to talk about it clearly, confidently and convincingly
There’s a personal story I told at a TEDx event a few years ago which resonated with my audience – bringing into sharp focus the importance of what I do and why I do it…
In 1986, my family celebrated mum and dad’s silver wedding anniversary. An impromptu opportunity presented itself to me to stand up and say a few words, but I bottled it. There were no consequences because the speech hadn’t been planned, but I often wondered why I hadn’t seized the moment on such a special occasion…
It was dad’s funeral in 2000 and another opportunity arose to stand up and pay respect both to him and my family. This time I spoke and I’m extremely pleased that I did – honouring a much-loved man.
The lesson I teach people about these two scenarios and how they were approached is that when something is so important and must be said, it will overcome any barriers. The reticence I felt at the anniversary just disappeared at the funeral because I recognised that the situation was much bigger than me.
Following the TEDx talk I had people approaching me to say that my story had inspired them to work on their public speaking and to remember that tapping into the importance of the thing – whether it’s a wedding speech or a pitch in the company boardroom – is all that truly matters.
I purposely made presentation skills coaching the core of my business back in 2008 after having my second child. By this stage I’d been running White Hart Training for a decade – utilising my background in leadership and management to help a lovely group of clients to make progress in their respective business journeys.
I’ve never regretted shifting the focus of my business (besides, the leadership and management aspect is still there) and, particularly in recent years, it’s given me great pleasure to work with people who have superb presentation skills, but are now really upping their game under my coaching. To see some of them go from preparing for local networking presentations to appearing at national conferences is extremely rewarding.
I feel privileged that I’ve always made my business work around me and the family.