Upfront – making stages more diverse and accessible


On Friday, I spoke about the way work is changing at The Milk Bar in Glasgow. It was the second time this year that I’ve done a talk that was #upfront (the first being with Niamh Nic Daeid at the Dundee Design Festival back in May).

By now you’ve probably seen me tweeting about #upfront and talking about it on Facebook, but what is it about?

#upfront is an initiative by Scottish designer and social agitator Lauren Currie. Its purpose is to make stages more diverse. It does this by giving people, who wouldn’t find themselves on stage for a range of reasons, an opportunity to experience what it feels like to be on stage without the pressure of performing. You can read more about that journey here.

On Friday I was joined on stage by Nicky and Nikki. Both of them work in communication roles and would like to be able to speak in public however neither have much experience and feel anxious at the prospect of speaking to a room full of people.

Lauren and her team at #upfront co-ordinated things beforehand and communicated with all of us to make sure we were briefed and prepared. On the day, Nicky, Nikki and I met beforehand and talked about why we were all there. I remember saying to Nicky that I still feel nervous every time that I speak in public – I think that the day that feeling isn’t there is a day to be worried.

Before I knew it, my time was up and we handed over the stage to the next speaker. Speaking to Nicky & Nikki afterward, they said that they’d both enjoyed the experience and that it had given them confidence and courage to give public speaking a try themselves. Mission accomplished!

So if you’re reading this, and you’re someone who regularly speaks in public, would you be up for sharing your stage and your power? And of course, if you are someone who would like to be #upfront and experience the stage without the pressure you can sign up to be notified when there is an #upfront opportunity in your area.

The Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government will be #upfront in Edinburgh next week and last month speakers at Service Design Hong Kong shared their stage. This is an easy and simple way to take action against inequality.

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