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100-plus attendees find their voices at WeSpeak boot camp

Caitlin Gordon from Athene Life giving a speech during an exercise at the WeSpeak bootcamp (Photograph by Blair Raughley Masters)

WeSpeak Bermuda’s first in-person boot camp in two years attracted an energised sold-out crowd.

Attendees included more than 100 women from a spectrum of career sectors spanning education, government, hospitality, healthcare, re/insurance and financial services.

The full-day event, held on Wednesday at Willowbank Resort in Sandys, reactivated the non-profit that was created in 2019 to coach public-speaking skills and provide speaking opportunities to empower local women in their lives and careers.

“Today’s event has been incredible,” WeSpeak co-founder Kathleen Faries said. “You don’t realise how much you miss the power and excitement of being in a room of like-minded women who show up to grow, learn and support each other. This is what WeSpeak is all about. After two years of pandemic, we’re out of practice. So it’s been really important for all of us to find our voices again.”

The boot camp marks a return to active engagement for WeSpeak, which staged virtual sessions in 2020 and 2021.

“It’s a privilege to watch women of every age, colour and background come together at our boot camp,” WeSpeak board member Fiona Luck said.

“Post-pandemic, all of our lives have been reshaped in terms of what the working world looks like. Women have shouldered a lot of the burden during Covid, and WeSpeak gives them a chance to reinvest in themselves. They leave with the skills to uplift themselves in any part of their career.”

The event included group presentations as well as breakout team sessions throughout the day, aimed at building confidence within a supportive network. The day also offered presentations by professional corporate coach, Connecticut-based Michael Crystal, who has assisted Bermuda clients for nearly 20 years.

“WeSpeak is so important because of the great support it gives women to engage in public speaking,” said Deshay Caines, a coach at the boot camp. “It brings women together to identify challenges and helps us figure out ways to get over them. Empowering women, through both exposure to speaking opportunities and tools to build confidence, is key.”

A recent WeSpeak survey identified reasons for female reluctance to speak publicly. They included a lack of formal training, limited opportunities to practise, and little access to talented peers or mentors. Notably, although women polled realised effective speaking skills were integral to their career success, most felt ill-prepared or practised to excel.

“Public speaking affects all of us, no matter what career, job, or industry sector you’re in,” said WeSpeak coach Patrina O’Connor. “Many women are afraid to speak up or state their opinion. This event has been phenomenal for a cross-section of women, offering a safe community and space for women to express their voices and support each other.”

“Today was a day when people just reached into their souls,” first-time attendee Sasha Castle-Siddiq said. “As women, we have to understand that platform is for us, because we are natural storytellers. Today’s boot camp offered a toolkit to help us be the kind of leaders we need to be.”

WeSpeak announced during the event that it will offer a $90 discount to WeSpeakConnect, its dynamic online coaching platform launched last year, to all attendees of any of its in-person or virtual boot camps to date. The offer, providing access via classic or premium membership, to content, resources, and forums, is valid through May 6.

Corporate support for the first 2022 Boot Camp included WeSpeak partners Appleby, Butterfield, Chubb, and EY, alongside event sponsors Ascot, Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers, Athene, Clarien, Dennis Mahoney – Lighthouse, Markel, Mosaic Insurance, Orbis, and Vantage.

For more information see www.wespeak.bm/wespeak-connect.

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Published April 21, 2022 at 6:39 pm (Updated April 21, 2022 at 7:53 pm)

100-plus attendees find their voices at WeSpeak boot camp

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