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Interview with Shola Kaye

Keynote speaker and author, Shola Kaye, is the founder of communications training company Speak Up And Shine. Shola delivers training and coaching, and has been featured in Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar and the BBC. She is a truly inspiring and unique speaker who knows how to entertain and engage with an audience. Read her interview and learn more about her and her career!

How did you begin your speaking career?

I’d been working as a professional singer for a number of years when I read one of High Performance Coach Brendon Burchard’s books about sharing your message. In one chapter he described the life of a public speaker, and what it felt like to inspire an audience and transform people’s lives. That chapter made me feel incredibly emotional and I took it as a sign that public speaking was for me. A while later, I signed up for some speaker training and as soon as it began, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to speak professionally and within a year and a half of that day I secured my first professional speaking opportunity.


What are your biggest goals in your life/career currently?

One of my current goals is to complete my second book, called ‘Speak Up On The Spot’. I need to make a few more corrections before I send it off to be edited. I’d wanted to complete it last year but life gets in the way! The book contains strategies for communicating with more power using frameworks, dealing with difficult questions and being heard during meetings. As an introvert who once had a corporate career, it’s a book I would have benefited from hugely during my days as as a consultant and an account director and I’m hoping that many who struggle with communication in the workplace will find it useful.


What are 3 habits for success?

I actually have a speech about this! I would say that three habits that have served me well are 1. To think as an experimenter rather than an expert. We can get really attached to being right which leads us to take fewer risks and to be less innovative, so I think it’s important to realise we don’t have all the answers. 2. To delegate certain tasks so I can focus on my areas of strength. I have a mechanic type personality profile which means I like to try things out and get involved in everything. But sometimes that’s not the most efficient or effective behaviour. 3. To realise that done is better than perfect. Roll up your sleeves, get on with it and don’t procrastinate!


Who or what inspires you most?

I’m inspired by people who make the tough decision to speak out and stand up for the greater good, even when it’s easier to hide away or stay quiet.

Why do clients typically hire you to speak?

I tend to combine communications skills training, storytelling and (sometimes) a bit of singing in my speeches, as well as lots of interactivity and audience engagement. Clients typically want me to wake the audience up, make them smile and transform they way they communicate, whether during workplace meetings, tough situations or more conventional public speaking scenarios.


Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?

I recently gave the closing keynote at an event here in London and afterwards, several attendees approached me and said that they were inspired to speak up and be more visible at work as a result of my speech. I inject a bit of humour and lighthearted fun into every talk but ultimately, it’s a huge honour to be able to influence people’s lives and it’s one I take very seriously.  

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