#SheSpeaks: Why 2018 will be my year to Speak Up!

There’s nothing like a wake-up call to land you back on your feet after a stint of self-doubt and self-diagnosed ‘imposters syndrome’ – am I really good enough at what I do?And who’s watching anyway?

That wake up call arrived earlier this month in the form of an email shortly followed by social media notifications to inform me that I’d been included in The Dots‘ ‘No more excuses for all male panels: here’s 50 of the best female speakers‘ curated by founder Pip Jamieson! The list puts me amongst many women ‘killing it on the circuit – rising stars and stalwarts who never cease to keep their talks fresh and engaging, no matter how many times they are booked‘, in an attempt to eradicate those tired excuses for events not to representing our diverse society…

Wake up call done – and perfect timing too! Here are a few reasons I’ll be making 2018 my year to speak up… Yep, you heard right!

A voice through activism

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Representation Matters

I always claim I found my voice through student activism when I became an active member of my Students Union (SU), after seeing an election poster which read; “Who Represents You?”. From President of the African Caribbean Society to running for an election to become an SU representative for students; voicing the concerns of marginalised groups is an ethos which lead me to set up Diversity Matters. I continue to run projects for organisations since graduating. This year, I’m organising Diversity Matters Awareness Week which is available for universities across the UK to host. The theme is “Who Represents Me?!”  Find out more on at Diversity Matters.

A platform to speak from 

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#IAmGAPStore: discussing the diversity ‘GAP’ in the creative industries

When you’re constantly silenced by through under-representation due to gender and/or ethnicity, patronised due to age and/or life experience, you start to feel marginalised, and it’s tiring. Sometimes out of vulnerability comes an opportunity to create your own platform to be heard. For me, beauty of  both blogging and social media has always been about having a platform of self-expression without having to conform. Let’s do Lunch Network is my way of connecting with women to create meaningful connections (food always helps!), Diversity Matters focuses on race equality agendas for an inclusive workplace, and then there’s a platform like The Dots – a sort of LinkedIn for creatives. When you find your voice, you can attract others who identity and that in turn creates a support system of allies.

The art of being a good listener

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Create spaces to listen to other voices

It’s a powerful thing to be heard, and just as powerful to be able to listen. When I’m invited to speak at an event, it’s often an opportunity to share not just my story, but those of others like me. Just as I want to be listened to when I speak on a wider platform, I also have to create spaces where I can be a good listener to others. Sure, it can be uncomfortable sitting in silence and completely evolving yourself in someone else words. But I think much of reasons why certain diversity, especially race agendas, aren’t being readily addressed is largely due to discomfort. Be ok with discomfort, especially if it will allow you to gain an understanding of someone else’s lived-experience. Listening allows us to hear different points of views which can broaden our perspectives.

Let’s do Lunch workshops

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I’m super excited about the prospects of ‘Let’s do Lunch Networking‘ as a hub for connecting. This year, I’m keen to open up discussions on social agendas and general networking skills, to young people by providing workshops in schools! These ‘working lunch’ sessions will last up to an hour – perfect for bite-sized activity! They can be in the form of a presentation, or interactive sessions for both girls or mixed groups. Find out more about the Let’s do Lunch Workshops I offer, or CONTACT me to discuss!

No one else can say it quite like I can

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Diversity Matters Exhibit

Public speaking is no different to any other discipline – practice makes perfect. Yet, admittedly in the past, I’ve avoided any speaking opportunities by organising events to invite others I classed as more experienced or worthy than I, to speak. Yes, there are plenty of other people who can elaborate on the same topics as I can. There are those who are older and wiser. And those will be deemed as experts due to their academic background. But fundamentally, no one else can say it quite like I can! And this sense of confidence and worthiness that I intend to carry throughout the year as a reminder to myself that my story is valid, as is my voice to be heard.

So in 2018 I intend to disrupt some comfortable, often all white – all male spaces, and be more than just a token diversity voice!

What are some of your goals for 2018? Share in the comment box blow!

Kai x

So when are we doing lunch… coffee… after work drinks?

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