Speakeasy is a student-led public speaking group hosted by the Student Development Team. While the group's primary aim is to develop practical communication skills, the social and cultural benefits stretch beyond. Navya Arora (MSc Human Resource Management) shares more about her experience on the Committee.
Student speaking to a group of people.

Discovering Speakeasy, a student group dedicated to public speaking and communication skills, was a pivotal moment in my academic journey at the University of Edinburgh Business School. After becoming a committee member early in the year, I was fortunate enough to witness first-hand the transformation of hesitant speakers into confident orators. In this blog, I share some of the enriching experiences and invaluable lessons I gained while being part of this empowering community.

What is Speakeasy?

Speakeasy was introduced with the aims of providing a safe and supportive space for individuals to conquer their fear of public speaking. We fostered an inclusive environment where all voices are valued, regardless of their experiences or backgrounds and met for regular workshops catered towards different interests and skillsets. By creating a tight-knit community in this way, Speakeasy not only helps individuals develop their speaking abilities but also builds lasting friendships among members. These meet-ups allowed us to bond as a team, sharing ideas and strategies to improve the sessions and provide better experiences for our members.

Developing myself and others

Although I always thought of myself as a self-assured speaker, becoming a part of Speakeasy made me realise the complexity of public speaking. For example, when hosting a session as a Committee member, I had to learn how to create an open and welcoming space for everyone to participate. This required clear communication skills, empathy, and an ability to guide discussions. I gained a real sense of satisfaction on mastering these abilities and they will benefit me greatly in future workplaces and social settings.

Being on the committee meant I also had the privilege of helping others on their personal growth journeys. It brought me joy when guiding newcomers through their first speeches, witnessing their progress, and seeing them deliver captivating presentations as the months went on. The feedback we received was incredibly encouraging as we knew that our efforts were making a positive impact on others.

Student speaking with microphone to other students

Communication and culture

The Speakeasy sessions themselves involved a wide range of activities. From interactive presentations and icebreakers to improvisations, every session was carefully crafted to cater to different learning styles. On special occasions, we even organised potluck sessions where members brought dishes that represented their cultures for everyone to try. This helped to broaden our understanding of different traditions and added an interesting twist to our regular meetings.

Feedback and certification

The certifications and recognition in being part of the Speakeasy Committee was another plus for me. My hours spent working on the Committee counted towards the Edinburgh Award – the Business School’s Student Development award scheme. In addition, everyone who actively participated in the sessions received certificates acknowledging their commitment to their own personal growth and improvement. The certificates served as a reminder of the progress we were making and encouraged us to continue refining our communication skills.

Our Student Development Manager, Stuart, also played a pivotal role in our growth as speakers. His feedback was not only constructive but also provided us with a fresh perspective on presentation styles and techniques. The insights he shared were invaluable to every member, enabling us to refine our skills and become more powerful communicators.

An empowering experience beyond public speaking

Reflecting on my journey as a Speakeasy committee member, I wholeheartedly recommend future students to participate in this group. Whether as a presenter, attendee, or committee member, the experiences gained through Speakeasy extend far beyond just public speaking. It is a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and personal growth. Beyond honing my public speaking abilities, being part of Speakeasy has taught me the importance of perseverance, the value of embracing vulnerability, and the art of active listening. The skills I developed, the relationships formed, and the knowledge I gained have become assets that will positively impact both my personal and professional paths.

My time as a committee member of Speakeasy at the University of Edinburgh Business School has been nothing short of transformative. It allowed me to grow as an individual, discover my own voice, and empower others to do the same. The supportive community, regular meet-ups, and the encouraging feedback from participants added immeasurable value to my experience. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity to be part of something so enriching throughout my studies here. I encourage every student to be a part of initiatives like Speakeasy.

Navya Arora is an MSc Human Resource Management student (2022-23).