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"Building Confidence" with Anna Connelly

Episode #53
English Level: upper-intermediate
Accent: UK (Oxford)

Anna Connelly's story - Ep. 53 - Into the Story Podcast - The podcast to learn English with true stories.

About Anna Connelly's story

Anna Connelly, from the Confident Business English podcast, tells us about giving her first big presentation at work. 

If you’re here, it means you’re listening to our podcast Into the Story, and you’re ready to take your English to the next level while you get inspired. Here, you’ll discover incredibly valuable learning materials to make the most of this episode. 

Quote of the episode

“Slowing down gives you more control, even when you're nervous”.

Transcript

[00:00:19] Hello, I am your host Bree. If you’re a new listener, then welcome. And if you’re already a listener, then welcome back. Today, we have a story from Anna Connelly. Now you may know Anna as the host of the Confident Business English podcast, but today she’s going to tell us a story from way back at the beginning of her career.

[00:00:45] Bree: Speaking to Anna, you can see that she’s confident, she’s motivated and determined to achieve her goals. And she knows how to work hard to get there.

[00:00:57] But like anyone else, it took her time to find her path.

[00:01:02] Although she’s perhaps always been able to show confidence, it hasn’t always been how she felt on the inside. And this was especially true the very first time she gave a presentation at work.

[00:01:18] Anna Connelly: I think I just said my introduction, like, hi, my name’s Anna, I’m gonna talk about whatever. And my mind just went empty. I, I, there was nothing there. And then I just said, I’m sorry I can’t do this. And I just, I just ran out of the room.

[00:01:32] Bree: Today on into this story and it will tell us a story of being young and out there in the world.

[00:01:40] It’s a story that I can definitely empathize with.

[00:01:43] Taking risks, making mistakes. Sometimes, maybe even looking incompetent. But eventually finding your way onto the right path for you.

[00:01:56] If you haven’t already, then follow Into the Story it means that you’ll never miss a new episode and it also helps other listeners find us, so thanks.

[00:02:08] Bree: Okay. It’s time to look at five words and expressions that she uses today. The first is to have everything together. So if somebody says that they have everything together, it means that they’re organized and calm, and they’re very sure about all of the different aspects of their life. For example, as a parent, I feel like other people have everything together. They look very organized and calm. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have everything together.

[00:02:48]  Or the teacher wasn’t very well-prepared, but the students thought that he had everything together. To have everything together. Next, to lose your train of thought. So if you lose your train of thought, it means that you forget, or you’re unable to continue thinking or talking about something.

[00:03:15] Perhaps this has happened to you when you were in the middle of a conversation with a friend or maybe even giving a presentation.

[00:03:23] For example, while speaking, he forgot what he was saying. He lost his train of thought. Or it’s easy to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you.

[00:03:35] To lose your train of thought. Next, to stick out. So we can use this when we’re speaking about memories. If a memory sticks out, it means that it’s very memorable or easy to remember.

[00:03:56] For example, the day we first met, really sticks out as a special memory.

[00:04:02] Or when I think back to my first day of school, the door of my classroom really sticks out. For a memory to stick out. Next. To be put on the spot. So if you’re put on the spot. It means that you are in a situation. Where you feel pressure people are paying attention to you.

[00:04:31] And you often feel unprepared.

[00:04:34] For example, during the presentation, I felt put on the spot. When someone asked me a question, I wasn’t prepared for.

[00:04:44] Or at the dinner, he felt put on the spot when she asked him about work. To be put on the spot. And lastly, to be thrown in the deep end. So if you are thrown in the deep end, You are given a challenging task or situation, without much preparation. For example. On his first day of work, he was thrown in the deep end with a difficult project.

[00:05:20] Or being thrown in the deep end can be hard, but it can also be a chance to learn quickly. To be thrown in the deep end.

[00:05:32] Okay. As always, you have an extended vocabulary list, the transcript and a quiz on our website. I will leave you a link in the show notes.

[00:05:42] Okay. It’s my favorite time. Let’s get Into the Story. 

[00:05:49] Anna Connelly: I grew up in a small town, which is called Didcot, and it is near Oxford, so it’s in the south of England, not too far from London. If you wanna get into London, you can hop on the train and you can get there in about 40 minutes. And it’s really just one of those towns where there’s, there’s nothing there apart from houses. It’s just where people live. It’s not a cultural place, it’s not a pretty place. It’s just a place where people live. So I grew up there.

[00:06:16] Bree: When Anna was 18, it came time to decide where to go to university. Now most people in Anna’s town chose to go to London or maybe to the coast to Plymouth. But she decided that more than anything, she wanted a place where no one knew her. She wanted a fresh start. So she applied to university in Liverpool, in the north. And then one day in August, the date finally arrived. She was going to find out if she was accepted or not

[00:06:50] Anna Connelly: And I remember that day, that morning, waking up. Like the first thing I did was like run to the study, put in my details, and I remember the page loading and I kind of knew that it wasn’t gonna be good news and it popped up and it said you didn’t get in. And I was like, oh my God. I couldn’t believe it. And I knew that I hadn’t done enough. I knew that it was my fault, it was nobody else’s fault but mine. But I just, I was like, I have to go to Liverpool. Like I, I remember visiting that place because you go and you do visits when you see, um, the universities. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where you just connect to a place, you’re like, this is just where I wanna go. It has like a special energy, a spirit.

[00:07:39] Bree: Anna knew that Liverpool was her place. And in her story, you hear her say this a lot: that she connected or didn’t connect with a place. And she really uses her intuition to guide her. So she knew that Liverpool was her place and being the determined person that she is. She found a way to go there. She applied for a different program. And she got in.

[00:08:05] So she went to Liverpool and her three years there went by quickly. After she graduated, she couldn’t find a job in Liverpool. So she moved back home to Didcot.

[00:08:17] Anna Connelly: I got this job and I don’t know about anybody else, but you know when you get a job and you’re like, this is just not for me. Like, you just instantly know. As soon as you walk in there, you’re like, this is just not gonna be my place. I started working in a bank. I just remember that office being so quiet. Nobody spoke. It was like you could hear a pin drop it was like a private bank and you go there and you, your job is to essentially manage people’s money. So you see these big spreadsheets come up and you’ve got different clients and they’ve got all this money and you have to, sort of, put their money in different funds to try and get them to make more money. I mean, that’s basically what it is. I don’t know, I just felt like this is just not, this is just not me. Like I, I, I can’t work here.

[00:09:17] Like this is, this is just not, this is just not for me.

[00:09:22] Even though her job at the bank from the outside looks like a great opportunity. It’s very clear to Anna that it is not her place. And then a very different opportunity becomes available. So by kind of by a twist of fate, actually when I was at university, I volunteered at a charity, a really interesting organization that works with victims of terrorism.

[00:09:49] and I did some volunteering work in the, in my third year there, and then they got back in touch with me and they said, okay, we’ve got this opportunity. You’d have to move back to Liverpool. It’s gonna be an internship. So basically you’re gonna earn no money, zero money, And I was like, this is it. Perfect. I was like, great. I can go back, I can go back to Liverpool. I can. Start my life. I can be away from my town.

[00:10:16] So I was just super, super happy with that.

[00:10:20] Bree: From the outside, this decision looks crazy. She wouldn’t even be earning enough money to live during this internship. But Anna knew that this was her path.

[00:10:32] So she gave her notice to the bank. To give your notice means that you quit your job, but then you work there for some time longer until it you’re officially finished.

[00:10:44] Anna Connelly: My last day at that job was like the 31st of December. Like I had to work in that job all through Christmas, ’cause I didn’t have any holidays left. And I was like counting down the days, counting the clock when I was in the office and counting down the days when I could go back to Liverpool.

[00:10:58] I was just, I was so, I was so happy and I just thought, this is, this is what I want. This is really what I wanna do. So I remember looking at flats and going to Liverpool and trying to find somewhere to live, which is always really stressful and you’re kind of walking around everywhere. And I remember that me and my mum went up and we were looking at different flats and we saw different places and we were kind of a bit disappointed.

[00:11:26] I hadn’t found anything. There was nothing that really was, it was either too expensive or the flat was just awful And then the last place was on the list. And I said, should we go, mom? Like should we bother or should we just leave it? And she’s like, oh, well let’s just go and, you know, we’ll, we’ll see it. So we went to this, there’s a really gorgeous part of Liverpool, which is, it’s called the Georgian Quarter, and they have these really big Georgian townhouses. And I love that kind of old building that has all this character. I just love them

[00:11:57] We knocked on the door

[00:12:00] And I remember this little guy

[00:12:02] opening the door, and I just fell in love with this house. The bedroom, it had this huge big bedroom at the front of the house. ’cause I was renting a room and these huge big sash windows with all this light, like flowing into the room. And I was like, oh. I was like, I have to stay here.

[00:12:19] Bree: Anna I knew that she was making the right decision. It just felt right.

[00:12:25] She loved living in this beautiful Georgian home in Liverpool. And she really enjoyed her internship at the charity, which lasted 10 months.

[00:12:37] Anna Connelly: One of the things as part of the internship was at the end of the internship, I had to give a presentation in front of all the people that were also doing the internship in other places, and a representative from that organization as well. And it was a conference. So at the end of the internship they said, okay, we’re gonna have everyone together.

[00:12:54] We’re gonna celebrate it. And the, the event was in London, so I had to travel down to London and I remember that I, I love traveling to London for business trips or conferences or anything like that. It’s just so special when you, you get the train and the station in Liverpool, Lime Street and you get the fast train.

[00:13:13] You wake up super early in the morning to get the train at like half past five, and then you arrive in London and you just feel like, you’re in the middle of this like big city.

[00:13:26] Bree: She arrives in London, feeling excited. From the train station, she gets on the subway, which will take her to the hotel. Where the two-day event will be. Anna will be giving a presentation in front of interns and representatives of other charities. This will be the first time she gives the presentation for work.

[00:13:49] We had to talk about our internship and what we, what we had achieved so far, and. I really wanted it to go well.

[00:13:56] Bree:  Anna finally gets to the hotel and meets the other interns who will be speaking at the conference. The excitement that she had felt earlier that morning slowly turns into fear and self-doubt. What would people think. Would she do a good job?

[00:14:13] Anna Connelly: And I think I was sort of in a way faking confidence because everyone else there seemed like really confident. All the other interns were like, seemed like they had everything together. And I was like, okay, just don’t let it show.

[00:14:25] Don’t let it show that you’re feeling nervous. So I kind of faked it, this kind of fake confidence when I was preparing and thinking about how I was gonna do it. But really deep down I was like, Ooh, I, I, I really don’t wanna do this.

[00:14:37] Bree: The moment where Anna has to officially practice her presentation arrives.

[00:14:43] All of the interns will practice together without the charity representatives watching. And tomorrow will be the official, a presentation.

[00:14:52] Anna walks into this very formal looking room.

[00:14:57] Anna Connelly: So it was in this like round room. And I remember it was kind of wooden and boarded, like all of the, all of the walls had like wood and they, they had these lights above, like professional lights.

[00:15:09] And everybody was sat round, so they had all the chairs in a semicircle, so it was like, there’s no escape.

[00:15:16] You know, everyone’s surrounding you. It was in this, I just remember that it was in this hotel and there was this garden outside. It was a really, I think it was an old monastery. It was really a beautiful hotel, but I remember there was a big window and a garden. I remember thinking, you know, I would really love to just be able to run out into that garden and just escape.

[00:15:37] And not come and not come back. But yeah, it was like was a lot of pressure. 

[00:15:43] Bree: Anna and the other interns sit down and a semicircle. Everyone is facing each other. She’s listening as the others give their presentations. Feeling more and more nervous about her own presentation. And then her turn arrives.

[00:16:02] Anna Connelly: This is the worst part for me because I dunno about anyone else, but it’s like that feeling where, you know, a couple of people were going ahead of me and you know that you are gonna be next.

[00:16:11] the nerves start like just building up in your body. And I stand up, I look at everyone there and I, I get my, my throat gets really dry. And I kind of get this like buzz in my head. I dunno how to describe it, and

[00:16:31] I said like my first line. my, my voice cracks or it trembles Then I just, I just completely, I completely lost it. I, I, I completely lost my train of thought and I, I went completely blank. I think I just said my introduction, like, hi, my name’s Anna. I’m gonna talk about whatever. And just, my mind just went. Empty. I, I, there was nothing there. And I kind of had this split second where I was like, do I continue? And then I just, I just said, I’m sorry I can’t do this. and I just, I just ran out of the room. I ran up, and I really remember this very vividly. I ran up to the hotel room and I shut the door, and I remember getting into the bathroom and it was one of these bathrooms that had a floor, which is like, the floor is like horrible. It’s like one of those things you find in hospital, like it, the material of the floor. And I remember just sitting on the floor, putting my head in my hands and then I don’t like, just, I just started crying, like, you know, that crying where you just, it’s like almost hysterical. Like, I couldn’t hold it in. It was like everything came to a point and I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. And I just started bawling it out on this, uh, bathroom floor in the, in the hotel. I was so emotional at that point and I was so panicked and scared and whatever, and

[00:17:56] I just kind of like. Burst out crying and I was just crying myself in the hotel bathroom. I was just sort of sitting on that floor thinking, oh God, Anna, you’re such an idiot. Why couldn’t you just, why couldn’t you just Do it, and now you’ve made it 10 times worse because now it’s, you could’ve just carried on and it would’ve been terrible anyway, but at least you didn’t sort of run away.

[00:18:19] And I just had that fear of like walking back into the room with everybody there and being like, okay, well here I am again, but let’s just, let’s just erase that last half an hour. Although impossible, of course.

[00:18:30] Bree: The next day is the big presentation. She walks into the room.

[00:18:37] Anna Connelly: So there’s more people that are sat round looking at me because it’s not only all the other interns this time, it’s also all the other interns and people from their organizations as well. So it’s people that I’d never seen before that I didn’t really know, and I remember I was wearing this jumper, and I don’t know why that sticks out, but I just remember feeling so like uncomfortable, even in my own clothes, you know, I just was like, I just don’t wanna be here.

[00:19:00] So I remember getting up and, again, moving to the front. Looking at all these people and just thinking, okay, here we go. And I started, and I was able to get past the make-or-break point I guess that I’d had yesterday. And I continued, and I remember that it was really hard for me to make eye contact with people because I was nervous. So I remember that I was kind of looking around the room a little bit and my body language, I’m sure, was horrendous. ‘Cause I But I, I did it little by little. I would kept saying the sentences. I did it, and then I got to the end, and I was like, it’s done. And everyone clapped. And after that, I was like, I never wanna do that again. Ever. You know, I was, it was a really, experience for me ’cause it really put me on the spot and challenged me in a way that I’d never been challenged before. You don’t really learn until you have a situation like that where you’re kind of just thrown in at the deep end, and you have an absolute disaster, and then you’re like, okay, I’m not as good at that as I thought I was like, I thought that would be fine, but I really struggled with that. So it was a really good learning point for me Since giving this first presentation at work, 

Bree: Anna has come a long way. Over the past 10 years, she says that her career has followed a very unconventional path.

[00:20:31] Anna Connelly: I’ve done loads of different things. I worked in the charity, I worked in the National Health Service. I was working in project management. And then I, by chance, somebody gave me the opportunity to work on the radio and Then that kind of clicked.

[00:20:49] Bree: Anna became a radio presenter on Vaughn radio. A very popular English radio station and Spain. She now hosts a podcast and is a Neurolanguage coach. She uses her experience to help people communicate in English at work. And sometimes she coaches people on giving presentations.

[00:21:12] Now, just by chance, I had to give a big presentation a couple of days after Anna told me this story. So I asked her, what is her biggest piece of advice for someone who has to give a presentation?

[00:21:26] Anna Connelly: I think the best piece of advice I could give is slowing down when you slow down, you can have more control even though you’re nervous. It just gives you a little bit more time for your brain to think and get things in order, and also breathing and for me, and I learned this during the podcast, just really thinking about what is it that you actually want to say? Just like, maybe it’s just one message. What’s the thing that I really want to say in that room?

[00:21:50] Bree: Slowing down and knowing what you really want to communicate, even if it’s just one thing. If you need to give a presentation or use English at work in any way, then I recommend that you check out Anna’s podcast, Confident Business English. It’s really practical and super enjoyable to listen to.

[00:22:18] I had the pleasure of going on her podcast to talk about different techniques for remembering and using vocabulary, So if you would like to hear that episode. Then you can follow the link that I will leave you in the description of this episode.

[00:22:34] Okay friends, if you would like to join our newsletter community, then you can visit IntotheStorypodcast.com.

[00:22:43] You can also follow the podcast on Instagram or YouTube. At Into the Story podcast or send me an email that’s Bree@IntotheStorypodcast.com.

[00:22:56] Okay. Until the next episode, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to tell. 

[00:00:19] Hello, I am your host Bree. If you’re a new listener, then welcome. And if you’re already a listener, then welcome back. Today, we have a story from Anna Connelly. Now you may know Anna as the host of the Confident Business English podcast, but today she’s going to tell us a story from way back at the beginning of her career.

[00:00:45] Bree: Speaking to Anna, you can see that she’s confident, she’s motivated and determined to achieve her goals. And she knows how to work hard to get there.

[00:00:57] But like anyone else, it took her time to find her path.

[00:01:02] Although she’s perhaps always been able to show confidence, it hasn’t always been how she felt on the inside. And this was especially true the very first time she gave a presentation at work.

[00:01:18] Anna Connelly: I think I just said my introduction, like, hi, my name’s Anna, I’m gonna talk about whatever. And my mind just went empty. I, I, there was nothing there. And then I just said, I’m sorry I can’t do this. And I just, I just ran out of the room.

[00:01:32] Bree: Today on into this story and it will tell us a story of being young and out there in the world.

[00:01:40] It’s a story that I can definitely empathize with.

[00:01:43] Taking risks, making mistakes. Sometimes, maybe even looking incompetent. But eventually finding your way onto the right path for you.

[00:01:56] If you haven’t already, then follow Into the Story it means that you’ll never miss a new episode and it also helps other listeners find us, so thanks.

[00:02:08] Bree: Okay. It’s time to look at five words and expressions that she uses today. The first is to have everything together. So if somebody says that they have everything together, it means that they’re organized and calm, and they’re very sure about all of the different aspects of their life. For example, as a parent, I feel like other people have everything together. They look very organized and calm. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have everything together.

[00:02:48]  Or the teacher wasn’t very well-prepared, but the students thought that he had everything together. To have everything together. Next, to lose your train of thought. So if you lose your train of thought, it means that you forget, or you’re unable to continue thinking or talking about something.

[00:03:15] Perhaps this has happened to you when you were in the middle of a conversation with a friend or maybe even giving a presentation.

[00:03:23] For example, while speaking, he forgot what he was saying. He lost his train of thought. Or it’s easy to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you.

[00:03:35] To lose your train of thought. Next, to stick out. So we can use this when we’re speaking about memories. If a memory sticks out, it means that it’s very memorable or easy to remember.

[00:03:56] For example, the day we first met, really sticks out as a special memory.

[00:04:02] Or when I think back to my first day of school, the door of my classroom really sticks out. For a memory to stick out. Next. To be put on the spot. So if you’re put on the spot. It means that you are in a situation. Where you feel pressure people are paying attention to you.

[00:04:31] And you often feel unprepared.

[00:04:34] For example, during the presentation, I felt put on the spot. When someone asked me a question, I wasn’t prepared for.

[00:04:44] Or at the dinner, he felt put on the spot when she asked him about work. To be put on the spot. And lastly, to be thrown in the deep end. So if you are thrown in the deep end, You are given a challenging task or situation, without much preparation. For example. On his first day of work, he was thrown in the deep end with a difficult project.

[00:05:20] Or being thrown in the deep end can be hard, but it can also be a chance to learn quickly. To be thrown in the deep end.

[00:05:32] Okay. As always, you have an extended vocabulary list, the transcript and a quiz on our website. I will leave you a link in the show notes.

[00:05:42] Okay. It’s my favorite time. Let’s get Into the Story. 

[00:05:49] Anna Connelly: I grew up in a small town, which is called Didcot, and it is near Oxford, so it’s in the south of England, not too far from London. If you wanna get into London, you can hop on the train and you can get there in about 40 minutes. And it’s really just one of those towns where there’s, there’s nothing there apart from houses. It’s just where people live. It’s not a cultural place, it’s not a pretty place. It’s just a place where people live. So I grew up there.

[00:06:16] Bree: When Anna was 18, it came time to decide where to go to university. Now most people in Anna’s town chose to go to London or maybe to the coast to Plymouth. But she decided that more than anything, she wanted a place where no one knew her. She wanted a fresh start. So she applied to university in Liverpool, in the north. And then one day in August, the date finally arrived. She was going to find out if she was accepted or not

[00:06:50] Anna Connelly: And I remember that day, that morning, waking up. Like the first thing I did was like run to the study, put in my details, and I remember the page loading and I kind of knew that it wasn’t gonna be good news and it popped up and it said you didn’t get in. And I was like, oh my God. I couldn’t believe it. And I knew that I hadn’t done enough. I knew that it was my fault, it was nobody else’s fault but mine. But I just, I was like, I have to go to Liverpool. Like I, I remember visiting that place because you go and you do visits when you see, um, the universities. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling where you just connect to a place, you’re like, this is just where I wanna go. It has like a special energy, a spirit.

[00:07:39] Bree: Anna knew that Liverpool was her place. And in her story, you hear her say this a lot: that she connected or didn’t connect with a place. And she really uses her intuition to guide her. So she knew that Liverpool was her place and being the determined person that she is. She found a way to go there. She applied for a different program. And she got in.

[00:08:05] So she went to Liverpool and her three years there went by quickly. After she graduated, she couldn’t find a job in Liverpool. So she moved back home to Didcot.

[00:08:17] Anna Connelly: I got this job and I don’t know about anybody else, but you know when you get a job and you’re like, this is just not for me. Like, you just instantly know. As soon as you walk in there, you’re like, this is just not gonna be my place. I started working in a bank. I just remember that office being so quiet. Nobody spoke. It was like you could hear a pin drop it was like a private bank and you go there and you, your job is to essentially manage people’s money. So you see these big spreadsheets come up and you’ve got different clients and they’ve got all this money and you have to, sort of, put their money in different funds to try and get them to make more money. I mean, that’s basically what it is. I don’t know, I just felt like this is just not, this is just not me. Like I, I, I can’t work here.

[00:09:17] Like this is, this is just not, this is just not for me.

[00:09:22] Even though her job at the bank from the outside looks like a great opportunity. It’s very clear to Anna that it is not her place. And then a very different opportunity becomes available. So by kind of by a twist of fate, actually when I was at university, I volunteered at a charity, a really interesting organization that works with victims of terrorism.

[00:09:49] and I did some volunteering work in the, in my third year there, and then they got back in touch with me and they said, okay, we’ve got this opportunity. You’d have to move back to Liverpool. It’s gonna be an internship. So basically you’re gonna earn no money, zero money, And I was like, this is it. Perfect. I was like, great. I can go back, I can go back to Liverpool. I can. Start my life. I can be away from my town.

[00:10:16] So I was just super, super happy with that.

[00:10:20] Bree: From the outside, this decision looks crazy. She wouldn’t even be earning enough money to live during this internship. But Anna knew that this was her path.

[00:10:32] So she gave her notice to the bank. To give your notice means that you quit your job, but then you work there for some time longer until it you’re officially finished.

[00:10:44] Anna Connelly: My last day at that job was like the 31st of December. Like I had to work in that job all through Christmas, ’cause I didn’t have any holidays left. And I was like counting down the days, counting the clock when I was in the office and counting down the days when I could go back to Liverpool.

[00:10:58] I was just, I was so, I was so happy and I just thought, this is, this is what I want. This is really what I wanna do. So I remember looking at flats and going to Liverpool and trying to find somewhere to live, which is always really stressful and you’re kind of walking around everywhere. And I remember that me and my mum went up and we were looking at different flats and we saw different places and we were kind of a bit disappointed.

[00:11:26] I hadn’t found anything. There was nothing that really was, it was either too expensive or the flat was just awful And then the last place was on the list. And I said, should we go, mom? Like should we bother or should we just leave it? And she’s like, oh, well let’s just go and, you know, we’ll, we’ll see it. So we went to this, there’s a really gorgeous part of Liverpool, which is, it’s called the Georgian Quarter, and they have these really big Georgian townhouses. And I love that kind of old building that has all this character. I just love them

[00:11:57] We knocked on the door

[00:12:00] And I remember this little guy

[00:12:02] opening the door, and I just fell in love with this house. The bedroom, it had this huge big bedroom at the front of the house. ’cause I was renting a room and these huge big sash windows with all this light, like flowing into the room. And I was like, oh. I was like, I have to stay here.

[00:12:19] Bree: Anna I knew that she was making the right decision. It just felt right.

[00:12:25] She loved living in this beautiful Georgian home in Liverpool. And she really enjoyed her internship at the charity, which lasted 10 months.

[00:12:37] Anna Connelly: One of the things as part of the internship was at the end of the internship, I had to give a presentation in front of all the people that were also doing the internship in other places, and a representative from that organization as well. And it was a conference. So at the end of the internship they said, okay, we’re gonna have everyone together.

[00:12:54] We’re gonna celebrate it. And the, the event was in London, so I had to travel down to London and I remember that I, I love traveling to London for business trips or conferences or anything like that. It’s just so special when you, you get the train and the station in Liverpool, Lime Street and you get the fast train.

[00:13:13] You wake up super early in the morning to get the train at like half past five, and then you arrive in London and you just feel like, you’re in the middle of this like big city.

[00:13:26] Bree: She arrives in London, feeling excited. From the train station, she gets on the subway, which will take her to the hotel. Where the two-day event will be. Anna will be giving a presentation in front of interns and representatives of other charities. This will be the first time she gives the presentation for work.

[00:13:49] We had to talk about our internship and what we, what we had achieved so far, and. I really wanted it to go well.

[00:13:56] Bree:  Anna finally gets to the hotel and meets the other interns who will be speaking at the conference. The excitement that she had felt earlier that morning slowly turns into fear and self-doubt. What would people think. Would she do a good job?

[00:14:13] Anna Connelly: And I think I was sort of in a way faking confidence because everyone else there seemed like really confident. All the other interns were like, seemed like they had everything together. And I was like, okay, just don’t let it show.

[00:14:25] Don’t let it show that you’re feeling nervous. So I kind of faked it, this kind of fake confidence when I was preparing and thinking about how I was gonna do it. But really deep down I was like, Ooh, I, I, I really don’t wanna do this.

[00:14:37] Bree: The moment where Anna has to officially practice her presentation arrives.

[00:14:43] All of the interns will practice together without the charity representatives watching. And tomorrow will be the official, a presentation.

[00:14:52] Anna walks into this very formal looking room.

[00:14:57] Anna Connelly: So it was in this like round room. And I remember it was kind of wooden and boarded, like all of the, all of the walls had like wood and they, they had these lights above, like professional lights.

[00:15:09] And everybody was sat round, so they had all the chairs in a semicircle, so it was like, there’s no escape.

[00:15:16] You know, everyone’s surrounding you. It was in this, I just remember that it was in this hotel and there was this garden outside. It was a really, I think it was an old monastery. It was really a beautiful hotel, but I remember there was a big window and a garden. I remember thinking, you know, I would really love to just be able to run out into that garden and just escape.

[00:15:37] And not come and not come back. But yeah, it was like was a lot of pressure. 

[00:15:43] Bree: Anna and the other interns sit down and a semicircle. Everyone is facing each other. She’s listening as the others give their presentations. Feeling more and more nervous about her own presentation. And then her turn arrives.

[00:16:02] Anna Connelly: This is the worst part for me because I dunno about anyone else, but it’s like that feeling where, you know, a couple of people were going ahead of me and you know that you are gonna be next.

[00:16:11] the nerves start like just building up in your body. And I stand up, I look at everyone there and I, I get my, my throat gets really dry. And I kind of get this like buzz in my head. I dunno how to describe it, and

[00:16:31] I said like my first line. my, my voice cracks or it trembles Then I just, I just completely, I completely lost it. I, I, I completely lost my train of thought and I, I went completely blank. I think I just said my introduction, like, hi, my name’s Anna. I’m gonna talk about whatever. And just, my mind just went. Empty. I, I, there was nothing there. And I kind of had this split second where I was like, do I continue? And then I just, I just said, I’m sorry I can’t do this. and I just, I just ran out of the room. I ran up, and I really remember this very vividly. I ran up to the hotel room and I shut the door, and I remember getting into the bathroom and it was one of these bathrooms that had a floor, which is like, the floor is like horrible. It’s like one of those things you find in hospital, like it, the material of the floor. And I remember just sitting on the floor, putting my head in my hands and then I don’t like, just, I just started crying, like, you know, that crying where you just, it’s like almost hysterical. Like, I couldn’t hold it in. It was like everything came to a point and I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. And I just started bawling it out on this, uh, bathroom floor in the, in the hotel. I was so emotional at that point and I was so panicked and scared and whatever, and

[00:17:56] I just kind of like. Burst out crying and I was just crying myself in the hotel bathroom. I was just sort of sitting on that floor thinking, oh God, Anna, you’re such an idiot. Why couldn’t you just, why couldn’t you just Do it, and now you’ve made it 10 times worse because now it’s, you could’ve just carried on and it would’ve been terrible anyway, but at least you didn’t sort of run away.

[00:18:19] And I just had that fear of like walking back into the room with everybody there and being like, okay, well here I am again, but let’s just, let’s just erase that last half an hour. Although impossible, of course.

[00:18:30] Bree: The next day is the big presentation. She walks into the room.

[00:18:37] Anna Connelly: So there’s more people that are sat round looking at me because it’s not only all the other interns this time, it’s also all the other interns and people from their organizations as well. So it’s people that I’d never seen before that I didn’t really know, and I remember I was wearing this jumper, and I don’t know why that sticks out, but I just remember feeling so like uncomfortable, even in my own clothes, you know, I just was like, I just don’t wanna be here.

[00:19:00] So I remember getting up and, again, moving to the front. Looking at all these people and just thinking, okay, here we go. And I started, and I was able to get past the make-or-break point I guess that I’d had yesterday. And I continued, and I remember that it was really hard for me to make eye contact with people because I was nervous. So I remember that I was kind of looking around the room a little bit and my body language, I’m sure, was horrendous. ‘Cause I But I, I did it little by little. I would kept saying the sentences. I did it, and then I got to the end, and I was like, it’s done. And everyone clapped. And after that, I was like, I never wanna do that again. Ever. You know, I was, it was a really, experience for me ’cause it really put me on the spot and challenged me in a way that I’d never been challenged before. You don’t really learn until you have a situation like that where you’re kind of just thrown in at the deep end, and you have an absolute disaster, and then you’re like, okay, I’m not as good at that as I thought I was like, I thought that would be fine, but I really struggled with that. So it was a really good learning point for me Since giving this first presentation at work, 

Bree: Anna has come a long way. Over the past 10 years, she says that her career has followed a very unconventional path.

[00:20:31] Anna Connelly: I’ve done loads of different things. I worked in the charity, I worked in the National Health Service. I was working in project management. And then I, by chance, somebody gave me the opportunity to work on the radio and Then that kind of clicked.

[00:20:49] Bree: Anna became a radio presenter on Vaughn radio. A very popular English radio station and Spain. She now hosts a podcast and is a Neurolanguage coach. She uses her experience to help people communicate in English at work. And sometimes she coaches people on giving presentations.

[00:21:12] Now, just by chance, I had to give a big presentation a couple of days after Anna told me this story. So I asked her, what is her biggest piece of advice for someone who has to give a presentation?

[00:21:26] Anna Connelly: I think the best piece of advice I could give is slowing down when you slow down, you can have more control even though you’re nervous. It just gives you a little bit more time for your brain to think and get things in order, and also breathing and for me, and I learned this during the podcast, just really thinking about what is it that you actually want to say? Just like, maybe it’s just one message. What’s the thing that I really want to say in that room?

[00:21:50] Bree: Slowing down and knowing what you really want to communicate, even if it’s just one thing. If you need to give a presentation or use English at work in any way, then I recommend that you check out Anna’s podcast, Confident Business English. It’s really practical and super enjoyable to listen to.

[00:22:18] I had the pleasure of going on her podcast to talk about different techniques for remembering and using vocabulary, So if you would like to hear that episode. Then you can follow the link that I will leave you in the description of this episode.

[00:22:34] Okay friends, if you would like to join our newsletter community, then you can visit IntotheStorypodcast.com.

[00:22:43] You can also follow the podcast on Instagram or YouTube. At Into the Story podcast or send me an email that’s Bree@IntotheStorypodcast.com.

[00:22:56] Okay. Until the next episode, I hope that you have a good time or at least a good story to tell. 

Episode's vocabulary List

*vocabulary featured in podcast

A STUDY: A room in a home used for reading, work, or academic activities; also called home office. Examples: “She spends hours in her home office, preparing for exams.” “The home office is a quiet room with bookshelves and a desk.”

POPPED UP (ON A SCREEN): Suddenly appeared or showed on a computer screen.
Examples: “An error message popped up when I tried to open the file.” “A notification popped up, reminding me of the meeting.”

SPREADSHEET: A computer program or document used for organizing and analyzing data in tabular form. Examples: “I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses.” “The financial team uses a spreadsheet to manage the budget.”

FUNDS: Money or financial resources available for a specific purpose. Examples: “The company raised funds for a new project.” “The funds allocated for the event were insufficient.”

TWIST OF FATE: An unexpected or chance occurrence that alters the course of events. Examples: “Meeting my future business partner at the airport was a twist of fate.”
“The twist of fate. brought them together in an unexpected but wonderful way.”

TO GET IN TOUCH / GET BACK IN TOUCH: To establish or re-establish communication with someone. Examples: “I need to get in touch with my old friend from college.”
“After years of lost contact, she finally get back in touch with her childhood pen pal.”

INTERNSHIP / INTERN: A temporary position within an organization where individuals gain practical experience in a particular field. Examples: “She completed an internship at a prestigious law firm last summer.” “The company accepted college students interested in marketing as interns.”

TO COUNT DOWN THE DAYS: To track the number of days remaining until a specific event. Examples: “I’m counting down the days until my vacation.” “The students are counting down the days until graduation.”

TO BOTHER / TO NOT BOTHER DOING SOMETHING: To make an effort or choose not to make an effort to do something. Examples: “I don’t bother checking my emails on weekends.” “She bothers to double-check her work for accuracy.”
*TO HAVE EVERYTHING TOGETHER: To be organized, calm, or sure about handling all different aspects of life. Examples: “Even in tough times, she looks like she has everything together.” “Feeling confident comes from having everything together.”
TO LET IT SHOW / TO NOT LET IT SHOW (FEELINGS): To allow or prevent one’s emotions from being visible or evident. Examples: “Even in challenging situations, he doesn’t let it show.” “She let her excitement show when she received the good news.”

DEEP DOWN (FEELINGS): In one’s innermost thoughts or true feelings. Examples: “Deep down, she knew it was the right decision.” “Deep down, he was proud of his friend’s achievements.”

NERVES: Feelings of anxiety or apprehension. Examples: “Public speaking always gives me nerves.” “The competition brought out her nerves, but she performed well.”

*TO STICK OUT (A MEMORY): To be a very memorable or easy-to-remember memory. Examples: “The day we first met really sticks out as a special memory.” “Some events stick out because they’re important.”

A BUZZ / BUZZING (IN YOUR HEAD): A feeling of excitement or anxiety, often in one’s thoughts. Examples: “The new project gave her a buzzing sensation of excitement.” “After the successful launch, there was a buzz in the office.”

*TO LOSE YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT: To forget or be unable to continue thinking or talking about something. Examples: “While speaking, he forgot what he was saying, lost his train of thought.” “It’s easy to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you.”

BAWLING: Crying loudly and uncontrollably. Examples: “The baby started bawling when the toy was taken away.” “She was bawling after watching the emotional movie.”

CRACK / TREMBLE (VOICE): To have a momentary change or shake in the sound of one’s voice. Examples: “Her voice cracked with emotion as she thanked everyone.” “His voice trembled as he spoke about the challenging experience.”

A SPLIT SECOND: A very brief moment or instant. Examples: “In a split second, he made the decision to change careers.” “The car swerved out of the way in a split second.”

HYSTERICAL CRYING: Crying with intense and uncontrollable emotion. Examples: “She became hysterical when she received the surprising news.” “The movie’s ending left the audience hysterical.”

MORTIFIED: Extremely embarrassed or humiliated. Examples: “I was mortified when I realized I had the wrong presentation.” “He felt mortified by the public mistake.”

TO MAKE SOMETHING 10 TIMES WORSE: To worsen a situation significantly. Examples: “Yelling at the employee only made the situation 10 times worse.” “Trying to fix the issue without proper knowledge can make it 10 times worse.”

TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF THE WAY: To complete or deal with something, often a task or responsibility. Examples: “Let’s get this meeting out of the way before lunch.” “I want to get my assignments out of the way early.”

MAKE-OR-BREAK POINT: A critical moment or situation that determines success or failure. Examples: “The final exam is a make-or-break point for passing the course.” “This negotiation is a make-or-break point for the business deal.”

*PUT ON THE SPOT: To be in a situation where you feel pressure or people are paying attention to you.
Examples: “Feeling nervous during the presentation, she felt put on the spot.” “It’s uncomfortable to put people on the spot by asking them unexpected questions.”

*THROWN IN THE DEEP END: To be given a challenging task or situation without much preparation. Examples: “On his first day at work, he was thrown in the deep end with a tough project.” “Being thrown in the deep end can be overwhelming but is also a chance to learn quickly.”

 

*vocabulary featured in podcast

A STUDY: A room in a home used for reading, work, or academic activities; also called home office. Examples: “She spends hours in her home office, preparing for exams.” “The home office is a quiet room with bookshelves and a desk.”

POPPED UP (ON A SCREEN): Suddenly appeared or showed on a computer screen.
Examples: “An error message popped up when I tried to open the file.” “A notification popped up, reminding me of the meeting.”

SPREADSHEET: A computer program or document used for organizing and analyzing data in tabular form. Examples: “I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses.” “The financial team uses a spreadsheet to manage the budget.”

FUNDS: Money or financial resources available for a specific purpose. Examples: “The company raised funds for a new project.” “The funds allocated for the event were insufficient.”

TWIST OF FATE: An unexpected or chance occurrence that alters the course of events. Examples: “Meeting my future business partner at the airport was a twist of fate.”
“The twist of fate. brought them together in an unexpected but wonderful way.”

TO GET IN TOUCH / GET BACK IN TOUCH: To establish or re-establish communication with someone. Examples: “I need to get in touch with my old friend from college.”
“After years of lost contact, she finally get back in touch with her childhood pen pal.”

INTERNSHIP / INTERN: A temporary position within an organization where individuals gain practical experience in a particular field. Examples: “She completed an internship at a prestigious law firm last summer.” “The company accepted college students interested in marketing as interns.”

TO COUNT DOWN THE DAYS: To track the number of days remaining until a specific event. Examples: “I’m counting down the days until my vacation.” “The students are counting down the days until graduation.”

TO BOTHER / TO NOT BOTHER DOING SOMETHING: To make an effort or choose not to make an effort to do something. Examples: “I don’t bother checking my emails on weekends.” “She bothers to double-check her work for accuracy.”
*TO HAVE EVERYTHING TOGETHER: To be organized, calm, or sure about handling all different aspects of life. Examples: “Even in tough times, she looks like she has everything together.” “Feeling confident comes from having everything together.”
TO LET IT SHOW / TO NOT LET IT SHOW (FEELINGS): To allow or prevent one’s emotions from being visible or evident. Examples: “Even in challenging situations, he doesn’t let it show.” “She let her excitement show when she received the good news.”

DEEP DOWN (FEELINGS): In one’s innermost thoughts or true feelings. Examples: “Deep down, she knew it was the right decision.” “Deep down, he was proud of his friend’s achievements.”

NERVES: Feelings of anxiety or apprehension. Examples: “Public speaking always gives me nerves.” “The competition brought out her nerves, but she performed well.”

*TO STICK OUT (A MEMORY): To be a very memorable or easy-to-remember memory. Examples: “The day we first met really sticks out as a special memory.” “Some events stick out because they’re important.”

A BUZZ / BUZZING (IN YOUR HEAD): A feeling of excitement or anxiety, often in one’s thoughts. Examples: “The new project gave her a buzzing sensation of excitement.” “After the successful launch, there was a buzz in the office.”

*TO LOSE YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT: To forget or be unable to continue thinking or talking about something. Examples: “While speaking, he forgot what he was saying, lost his train of thought.” “It’s easy to lose your train of thought when someone interrupts you.”

BAWLING: Crying loudly and uncontrollably. Examples: “The baby started bawling when the toy was taken away.” “She was bawling after watching the emotional movie.”

CRACK / TREMBLE (VOICE): To have a momentary change or shake in the sound of one’s voice. Examples: “Her voice cracked with emotion as she thanked everyone.” “His voice trembled as he spoke about the challenging experience.”

A SPLIT SECOND: A very brief moment or instant. Examples: “In a split second, he made the decision to change careers.” “The car swerved out of the way in a split second.”

HYSTERICAL CRYING: Crying with intense and uncontrollable emotion. Examples: “She became hysterical when she received the surprising news.” “The movie’s ending left the audience hysterical.”

MORTIFIED: Extremely embarrassed or humiliated. Examples: “I was mortified when I realized I had the wrong presentation.” “He felt mortified by the public mistake.”

TO MAKE SOMETHING 10 TIMES WORSE: To worsen a situation significantly. Examples: “Yelling at the employee only made the situation 10 times worse.” “Trying to fix the issue without proper knowledge can make it 10 times worse.”

TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF THE WAY: To complete or deal with something, often a task or responsibility. Examples: “Let’s get this meeting out of the way before lunch.” “I want to get my assignments out of the way early.”

MAKE-OR-BREAK POINT: A critical moment or situation that determines success or failure. Examples: “The final exam is a make-or-break point for passing the course.” “This negotiation is a make-or-break point for the business deal.”

*PUT ON THE SPOT: To be in a situation where you feel pressure or people are paying attention to you.
Examples: “Feeling nervous during the presentation, she felt put on the spot.” “It’s uncomfortable to put people on the spot by asking them unexpected questions.”

*THROWN IN THE DEEP END: To be given a challenging task or situation without much preparation. Examples: “On his first day at work, he was thrown in the deep end with a tough project.” “Being thrown in the deep end can be overwhelming but is also a chance to learn quickly.”

 

Listening Comprehension Test

Anna speaks quite fast, but her English is from Oxford, which might help to understand her story. How much of this episode did you understand? Take the quiz to find out.

More about Anna Connelly

Anna Connelly's story - Into the Story Podcast- white

Anna is a Certified 𝙉𝙚𝙪𝙧𝙤𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙪𝙖𝙜𝙚 𝘾𝙤𝙖𝙘𝙝® helping international senior managers & executives to speak more and speak better. She has been producing a Business English podcast since 2023 called ‘Confident Business English‘ for international professionals.

Don’t miss Bree’s story on the Confident Business English podcast (available Wednesday, January 31st, 2024). Listen to Bree talk about techniques on how to remember vocabulary more effectively. 

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