Paula is a Chartered Member of the CIPD (MCIPD), a Learning and Development Professional and freelance TEFL Teacher. She is CPD Adviser of her local CIPD Branch and is a long-standing CIPD Committee Member.
Currently employed in the NHS, her previous positions have included roles primarily in the private sector (UK and Europe) in export sales in the electronics industry, sales within the wood pulp industry, executive relocation account management, Corporate Social Responsibility, HR Support Management, HR Generalist and more recently specialising in Learning and Development.
1)Please describe your job in detail?
I work as a Corporate Induction Programmes Lead within the NHS and have done so for the past 6 years. The role is incredibly varied and involves supporting new starters through their training; this includes both clinical and non-clinical colleagues. No two days are really ever the same.
It's a real privilege to work alongside such dedicated colleagues and trying to provide the best possible service and care to those we look after. I get a real buzz when I see colleagues doing well many years later and seeing them progress to other more senior roles in the organisation.
I am currently involved in some training design project work and that is something I find incredibly stimulating. It allows me to be creative and work with a number of different stakeholders in the organisation.
2)How would you describe yourself?
I definitely enjoy collaborating with other people and have a real passion for helping people to develop. People say that I am very good listener and that I work well with others in helping to support them. I have been very fortunate to have also had the chance to mentor colleagues so that has helped to enhance my communication skills too.
3)What attracted you to being part of the judging panel?
You could say that I was in the right place at the right time. The simple answer is that I was asked. No kidding! I recently attended the 5-Day Public Speaking Discovery Course with The College of Public Speaking (my second course with the company). On the back of that, I was invited to attend as a guest judge. It's an incredible honour and something I felt I just could not turn down.
4)What advice would you give to beginner public speakers?
Be yourself and keep things simple. That's easier said than done, I know. However, if you have a real connection with your subject and you love what you do, the rest should flow naturally. People will pick up on that and will be drawn to whatever it is you share with them. Welcome feedback and look upon it as a great opportunity to hone your skills. Get in as much practice as you can. Observe people that you admire. While I am not saying you should copy them - everyone is unique in their style - do find something that works well and see whether it is something you can learn from.
5)What's the biggest lesson you've learned throughout your career?
Have a go; if you really put your mind to something, you can achieve it. It can be done! You learn from every opportunity; it's what you do with that learning that's important. Do you use it to propel you forward or to hold you back? That's the key.
6)What do you love most about public speaking?
For me what's important is the ability to move your audience, to take them on a 'journey' and have them consider something in a way they might not have done previously.
7)What are you hoping to see from the contestants?
What I hope to see is that they have really prepared, but that their speeches feel very natural. There are so many directions in which you can take the theme of the speech and it will be interesting to see how each of them have interpreted this.
8)Have you had the opportunity to contribute to any magazines or national / local press?
Not yet, but if there's anyone in the room on the night from the local / national press, tell me when to strike a pose and say 'cheese.'
9)What do you feel is your contribution to the world of public speaking?
I worked as a Volunteer Common Role Trainer for the HR and Workforce Team for London 2012 Olympics, preparing the Games Makers for their roles. That came about as a result of my volunteering with my local CIPD Branch and I have lots of fun memories of that time.
As it happens, I am also a great believer in storytelling and try wherever possible to incorporate stories into my training sessions. Over the years, I have worked with many new starters and have assisted with the inductions of thousands of members of staff. If I can relate it back to something that is current and already familiar to an individual, I find it helps to make the message more meaningful to them; it is easier to make connections with what they already know and helps them understand why the training is relevant and truly get what's in it for them.
10)Are you a member of any specific speaking clubs and / or groups?
Whilst not currently a member of any speaking clubs, I am definitely going to sign up to my local Toastmasters speaking club for the New Year. I just want to keep on learning and developing.
11)Please list your own website, twitter, LinkedIn details.