Top tips for speakers

Tamsin joined our Speaker Network after a trip to Tanzania highlighted the devastating impact of not having access to safe, clean water. Here she shares her advice on giving a talk for WaterAid – alongside top tips from our other speakers around the country.

Tamsin is a programme manager for a pharmaceutical company. She is also part of her local Soroptimist group, working to improve the lives of women and girls.

"In 2012 I went on a trip to Tanzania, which was a really eye-opening experience. I met a woman who worked for a water charity in the United States and she told me about their work. It really made me start thinking about the implications of not having access to clean water.

When I returned home I was keen to find a charity who strived to improve access to water and sanitation - that’s when I found WaterAid and trained to become a speaker.

I usually start my talks by showing the audience how we use - and overuse - water as a community. If it's a younger audience I sometimes introduce a water-related game, while for older students I include a water quiz.

When I talk about the water walk I carry a huge bottle of water, to try and make the harsh reality of how far some people carry water seem more imaginable. I also try to find a reference point around six miles from the school I’m visiting, to help make the distance people walk for water more relatable.

Before my first talks with schools I spoke to the teachers to see how much the children already knew about WaterAid and what events they had planned for that term.

At first I was nervous, because I present to adults in my work but rarely to children. But I soon realised I didn't need to feel that way; the schools had invited me and wanted to hear what I had to say. 

Feeling the teachers' enthusiasm for the topic made me feel much more confident. I was buzzing when I came out of my first talks. I really enjoyed doing them!"

Top tips from our volunteer speakers

1. Get in touch with the school or group first
"When I contact a school, I always ask why they chose WaterAid and if there is anything in particular they want me to highlight. I ask teachers for class lists, so I can ask pupils what they think and involve as many children as possible." - Jimmy

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
"Get to the venue early enough to test the equipment – there is nothing worse than starting a film and no sound appearing!" - David

3. Think about your audience
"Think about what the audience will be expecting and try to do something different to grab their attention. I like to use analogies for the importance of water." – Michael

4. Share your experiences
"I have some great experiences from my trip to Uganda, which I share with speakers who haven't seen WaterAid's work first hand. Buddying up with someone else is also a really helpful way to learn." – Anna

5. Take some props!
"When I visit schools, I take along a fake poo, which the children have great fun playing games with. I also take a cream which shows up under UV light, to highlight the importance of hygiene." – Ivan

6. Keep up to date
"I use the materials regularly provided through the speakers' newsletters and visit the WaterAid website to keep up to date with the latest campaigns, what the charity is doing and to check the latest facts and figures." – Frank

Meet some more of our volunteer speakers >