Moments that mattered: Laura North, We Speak

Moments that mattered: Laura North, We Speak

The WISE100 Star of the Future has a “huge fear” of public speaking – but rather than holding her back, that fear prompted her to create a venture that now helps other young people to gain speaking confidence. Laura North shares the pivotal moments that led to her winning this year's award. 

When Laura North was beamed in to share her story at our NatWest WISE100 celebration on 18 March, she quickly admitted that this was a big deal for her. The thought of being the centre of attention before an audience of 100 people would have terrified her only a couple of years ago.

North's confidence was first destroyed as a 12-year-old, when she spotted a bored face in the audience, while giving a talk in school. From that point on, she avoided all forms of speaking up – more recently turning down opportunities to progress her social enterprise idea if there was a pitch involved. 

Where would I be if I hadn’t gone through that door?

North reflects on the point where she found her voice, in a ‘Dragons Den’-style pitch for social finance and training. Overcoming her fear led to her founding We Speak, a social enterprise that works with young people from underrepresented backgrounds to improve their speaking confidence and connect them with corporate mentors. Opportunities have flowed from that point – most recently, she was announced as this year’s Star of the Future award in the WISE100.

“Where would I be if I hadn’t gone through that door?” reflects North. “I wouldn't be speaking to you... and I don’t think We Speak would be having a profound impact on young people’s confidence.”


More moments that mattered

Vashtita Ashie and Aisha Hakoum, two We Speak facilitators, joined the awards ceremony in person and shared their own personal moments that mattered. Ashie spoke of learning to stop ‘people pleasing’ and connecting to her authentic self, while Hakoum reflected on her path towards becoming a barrister – a lifelong dream that her anxiety of public speaking had until recently jeopardised.

Watch all three women’s moments that mattered above, and check back soon for more stories from the WISE100 network.


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