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Don't restrain yourself any longer - speak up!

In my first blog I would like to share the personal story about how - eventually - I was able to train and coach in English with great pleasure. At the end of this story, I’ll share 12 tips that can help you, as a person and as a professional, finally stop holding yourself back. Do you feel hesitant to speak in public? You too can make a meaningful contribution in your field - even in another language.

At Home Feeling

I have lived and studied in Groningen since I was 18. A beautiful city where I still work and do so with great pleasure. During my student years at the University of Groningen, I walked across the Academieplein, and between the Academiegebouw and other faculty buildings in the beautiful center of Groningen. Why did I feel at home there? I have no idea really, just a feeling. After I completed the higher vocational education in Theater Education and a trainer's course, I started as a self-employed entrepreneur in Groningen. I have been giving coaching, presentation training and theater workshops there for years. I also sing jazz and blues.

A Clear Wish

7 years ago I told a good friend that I would like to work for the University of Groningen.

As a coach, as an event host, and maybe also as a presentation trainer, I thought at the time. She was able to put me in touch with someone from the university. Because of my years of experience as a practical presentation trainer, they immediately asked me if I could provide presentation training and presentation coaching to NWO / EU grant applicants within the university. What an opportunity!


These grant applicants, such as Veni, Vidi and Vici and ERC candidates, are experienced scientists who conduct challenging, innovative research. The language of instruction in these presentation training courses is English. Before I began, I took the chance to observe one of these group training sessions given by a colleague. During that training, 2 things happened.

1) I thought, “Scientists: what a fantastic and fascinating group to work with!”

I immediately received all kinds of practical ideas and inspiration to contribute to the next training day.

2) At the same time, I felt physically sick with anxiety and insecurity about conducting training in English.

Training in Dutch was of course no problem. I have been teaching theater, coaching and giving group training for years. I applied my own presentation method, Sparkle When You Speak, daily. But in English…my inner critic shook her head at me. I could have walked away then. Comfortable, but unfulfilled.


I chose to discuss my doubts with a trainer within the university. I remember this conversation like it was yesterday. She said: “Eva, I see the curtains are closing a bit, when you switch to English. But let me tell you three things:

1. “You radiate safety.

You are very experienced in creating a safe space for others to learn in a practical way. This is what we all -yes, even scientists- need.”

2. “You can and you will improve your English.

I will share ways to do that with you. You can even have fun while getting better at it every day.”

3. "Don't you know, broken English is the language of science?"

Tipping Point

Because of her, I dared to be a student while also being the trainer.

Now I love to give coaching and training in English! I'm still learning, and I’m not afraid to just ask for help sometimes.

In fact, I tell my (often international) Honors Students at the university this story when I introduce myself. After my story about “Broken English is the language of science”, I see some Honors Students smile slightly, and their hunched shoulders gently relax. It is an art not to let yourself be the one to hold you back.

Maybe these 12 tips will help you too:

1. Share your wish with someone you trust

2. Take an opportunity if it comes your way

3. Be open to learning

4. Test run & observe

5. Reflect on what you feel and think, even if it is sometimes contradictory and terrifying

6. Discuss your doubts with someone you trust

7. Be brave and follow your desire

8. Realize that you have qualities that are self-evident to you, but not to others

9. Learn a little every day/week/month

10. Do you realize that everyone is still a student in some way, even if someone seems perfect / super smart / untouchable

11. Dare to try, even if your knowledge is not yet optimal

12. Enjoy what you learn, and pass on the lessons

It's Time

Today is the day my website is online - in English.

Feel free to take a look:

“You may never know what results come from your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results”.

-Mahatma Gandhi-



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