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LCF Graduate, Noor Kazzaz, selected for the We Speak mentoring programme

Three people presenting at a workshop
  • Written byC. Wilkinson-Ayre
  • Published date 25 August 2022
Three people presenting at a workshop
Photo Credits: Jessica Bernard and Valentina Schivardi

The We Speak programme is aimed at building the speaking confidence of young people from under-represented backgrounds. Noor Kazzaz, a 2022 graduate from LCF BA (Hons) Fashion Buying and Merchandising successfully applied for the 4-week Spring online programme. We caught up with Noor to hear more about their experience.

Congratulations on being selected for the We Speak programme. Can you share why you decided to apply?

I have always been slightly introverted and was quite uncomfortable with any form of public speaking. But over the years this got much worse, to the point where I would feel physically unwell and extremely anxious before any sort of situation where I was to speak to a group of people where the attention was all on me, especially with university presentations and big job interviews. As you can imagine this became heighted by Covid. So, once I caught sight of the email sent by the university about the We Speak programme, even though it was so out of my comfort zone I forced myself to sign up. I completed the application form and was thrilled to be accepted.

We Speak sources mentors from top employers like Just Eat, Google Cloud and Investec. Who was your mentor and how did the programme develop your speaking confidence?

I had the opportunity to speak to and work with multiple mentors and facilitators. The mentors were from Investec, a banking and wealth management group. Contact with mentors rotated throughout the programme with facilitators monitoring how relationships were building. I was partnered with Michelle, we were drawn to each other after multiple conversations on fashion and sustainability. She really helped me to see that I am capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for.

The whole programme gave me a much needed safe space to 'test the waters' with public speaking, and had the perfect itinerary that allowed me to incrementally step outside my comfort zone week by week. Each week I delivered a short talk and finished the programme by delivering a speech to a small audience on fashion and sustainability, the topic of my dissertation. Prior to We Speak I would've been extremely anxious but by the end of the programme it really helped me realise my true potential.

Two people in conversation
Photo Credits: Jessica Bernard and Valentina Schivardi

After attending the programme, how have you used the skills and experience to shape your current studies and next steps?

As a recent graduate, I’m using the skillset I acquired through We Speak when applying to jobs and in interviews. I’m currently focused on securing employment in the buying and merchandising sector. Increasing my speaking confidence has relieved me of a lot of stress I had beforehand, I am able to ground myself in my newfound strategies for public speaking and presenting.

Any top tips for students wishing to apply to the programme?

Yes, first and foremost, just do it! I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning of We Speak, I was quite anxious but by the second session I was so glad that I pushed myself to take part because of what I had achieved, the people that I met, and the invaluable advice and toolset that We Speak provide.

At university where public speaking is ingrained in the curriculum, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone, watching everybody from the outside in seemingly being able to talk and think with ease. I got caught up in this mentality, until this programme reminded me that you are not alone, the community, including the facilitators and mentors can relate to you and also share experiences with the fear of public speaking.