Paul Oliver

Paul OliverPaul not opt

Occupation: Electronic Design Engineer (retired) now pursuing a career that involves talking to a lot of people.

Joined Colchester Speakers Club: September 2014

I joined the Speakers Club because I am a member of a breakfast networking club and each meeting we all have to give a 60 to 90-second speech to a group of around twenty people. l felt I could do better if I learnt some public speaking skills.

I would also like to be confident enough to give good speeches when my two daughters get married!

Why did you feel you needed to improve your public speaking? 

When I have to speak in public, I get nervous and speak too quickly. Although I want to make eye contact, when I do so, I forget what I am saying. I don’t speak clearly enough and, as a result, I often lose my listeners’ attention. I have been told that I sometimes put the emphasis on the wrong syllables or incorrect words. I hope that by having more practice in speaking, with friendly feedback I can reduce these problems.

What is your career to date?

  • Electronics design engineer with The Marconi Company in Chelmsford, starting as an apprentice, obtaining a degree and then joining their Field Service Division
  • Electronics design engineer for a small company in East Bergholt until it was sold in 1989 followed by the closure of my department
  • Owner of my own company called Intasolve, designing and manufacturing touchscreens as well as some bespoke electronic equipment
  • In  2000 I sold my company and worked with the buyers until 2005
  • Self-employed electronic design and software engineer until 2013 having never fully recovered from the recession of 2008
  • I now have two part-time jobs: helping local people with lawn cutting, painting, assembling flat-pack furniture and helping with their computer and audio-visual problems and I am also a distributor for Utility Warehouse, helping people to save money on their gas, electricity, phone, broadband and mobiles.

When did you realise you had a problem speaking to large groups?

At my breakfast networking club I have to give regular short presentations. So far I have been dissatisfied with my performance and this has been the trigger for doing something about it.

How did you find out about the Colchester Speakers Club?

Once I decided that I needed to improve my speaking skills, I found the club from a Google search.

What was your first meeting like?

I was made very welcome. I am pleased to say there are a lot more members now than when I first started. I was asked if I would like to try a two minute topic speech. Luckily I was given a relatively easy topic and was pleased with the result.

What stage are you up to in your Speakers Club Guide?

I like the fact that learning is structured, new members are asked to give a series of speeches, each concentrating on a different skill. I am now preparing for my fourth speech which is on using gestures.

What have been the benefits of the Speakers Club for you?

These are early days, but I like the way that each aspect of becoming a better speaker is addressed sequentially. The club is friendly and supportive and I look forward to the meetings. I feel confident that in a year or two, I shall be a much better speaker than I am at the moment.

What would you say to anyone anxious about speaking in public?

I would advise everyone to join a speakers club, not only those who are anxious about public speaking.