She describes herself in her LinkedIn profile as a “Public Speaker”. Married mother of four Victorine Ngamsha 40, is a happy, smiling woman who loves to serve the public.
She is an award winning volunteer who likes helping others less fortunate than herself. Through her public speaking, She tries to motivate them into taking charge of their own destiny. She was born in Bui Division, North Western Cameroon but now lives with her family in Wasall, United Kingdom.
She recently created a motivational public speaking company VVL (Extended Hands ) and intends to use that to give lectures on self improvement acros the world.
She has been talking to Francis Ngwa Niba about her hopes and aspiration.
Q You describe yourself as a public speaker, what does that mean, what do you do?
I began public speaking when I was studying in the university of Wolverhampton in the UK. I picked up this skill after preparing presentations and training people. At the moment, my aim is to motivate people on different topics and I am still training too. I recently did a public talk on equality and diversity for the Dudley City Council in the UK. I facilitated a workshop there on the importance of volunteering in the community. Before that, I travelled to Belgium where I spoke to the Nso family convention that took place in Brussels. I spoke there about the dignity of an African child. That talk was centred around child upbringing in Europe and Africa. The discussion focused around whether parents need to smack their kids when they are wrong or just talking and explaining things to them so they know the difference between right and wrong. I like speaking to large crowds of people and I hope to be talking about this and many other similar topics. As a public speaker, you need to be confident about what you say and how you say it and I have no problems talking to large crowds of people.
Q Evidently, a lot of people will be shy talking to large crowds of people and some just can’t manage it. What gives you the confidence to just stand and talk to say, one thousand people without suffering any stage fright?
I really can’t say. Guess I am just like that, I was born like that. If I know what I need to talk about, I just go ahead and talk. Crowds don’t worry or frighten me.
Q Is it exciting being a public speaker?
Public speaking can be very exciting. You look forward to meeting and talking to people most of whom you never met before. The fun is telling them what you know and how that could be relevant to them in one way or another. To me, sharing information with others is very imporant because you could possibly influence or completely change somebody’s life as a result of a talk you give. Some poeple could also change your life because you also learn from them. I always look forward to giving any public lecture
Q What type of interactions do you usually have with your audience?
From past experience, sometimes it can be very challenging. Some people might ask you a question for which you have no answer. I find that very rewarding because you then go back and do the necessary research and learn in the process. The worst thing you can do as a public speaker is trying to improvise a wrong answer. You just need to acknowledge you can’t answer that and promise to research about the issue or topic. The audiences I have spoken to have been great, they often welcome my speech. I spoke during a womens’ day event in Dudley and the responses from the women was great. It is always satisfyng when you see the smile on peoples’ faces acknowledging they appreciate the information you are giving to them .
Q Talk a bit about the Dudley talk with the women you just mentioned. What was it all about?
When you first meet a group of people you probably never met before, there needs to be an ice breaker. You need to involve and get their attention very quickly to stop people from falling asleep. Before I started talking to the Dudley women on women’s day, (March 8th) one of the participants just said, “Oh I like your hair” and I said “ thank you”. That really was the ice breaker. It was then easy to talk to the women. I was talking to them about the role of a west African woman in community intergration. It was mainly a question and answer discussion and me and the women quickly built a rapport together. That is always necessary when you are talking to a group of people. You need to engage the people from the beginning and keep that interest through out or you quickly lose their attention which is no good. You need to be educative, entertaining and you need to make an impact in their lives. For public speaking, it is also necessary to get some visual aids which is what I always do. When available, a power point presentation is great but sometimes, it could be a video or pictures. The topic you are talking about usually determines the type of visual aid you need.
Q I think the hallmark of a good public speaker is that you can just talk to people on an impromptu basis so let me give you a little test. If you are called upon now to talk to prisoners in an African prison, what will you tell them?
That’s a good question I did talk to some prisoners in Kondengui prison in Cameroon years ago. I never went there to do a presentation but while there, one of them asked me to tell them something to motivate them. Prisoners are usually people whom society have rejected because of the crimes they have committed. They have low self esteem and believe the world has abandoned them. I will tell them you might have made mistakes in your life but the bus does not stop here, you still have a life out of prison. I will tell them to pray to God so they have some religious fulfilment. I will tell them there is light at the end of the tunnel and they need to change their life style so that when they get out of prison, they can be more useful members of the community. You need to raise their spirits because prisons are depressing places and you need to cheer them up.
Q When you are not taken unawares, you need to prepare before you deliver a talk, what type of preparations do you usually do before a presentation?
It depends on the topic. If I am talking to children, the preparations I do will be entirely different from when I have to speak to adults. I will be travelling to Cameroon in August and will need to talk to some young people, mostly unemployed; its much easier talking to them and I use Life experiences generally to talk to such people. The message to such people most of whom are primary school leavers, the preparation and message to them will be different than when I need to talk to an educated audience. I will talk to some children in Cameroon and mostly, I will centre my discussion around the importance of them getting an education. I will explain what they need to do to get that including getting the necessary materials, books etc.
Q Apart from being a public speaker, you are also a very passionate volunteer. I know you won an award for volunteering two years ago. What was that all about?
I won the award while I was a student at the university of Wolverhampton which is in the West Midlands UK. I was there for four years and part of my course was to do a one year sandwich placement. I majored in IT so I needed to go out and work for a year in an IT company before coming back. Normally, people get paid for the placement during the year they are away from school. In my case, I did not do a paid placement. I decided to do a year’s volunteering with a company called The Heaven which is based in Wolverhampton town centre. I helped women sufferiing from domestic violence there. Before that particular placement, I had also worked for WCRFM radio as a volunteer reporter. I also did some voluntary work in my school. I put in more than the necessary number of hours that I was supposed to do in the women shelter during my year long volunteer placement. It is on the basis of that that i won the volunteer award.
Q Why do you like voluntareering?
It is just me. That is how I am. Sometimes it is frustrating when you try to explain to people that you just like volunteering for the sake of it and the satisfaction i get from helping others. Some people think I do it for ulterior reasons but that is not the case. As a little girl, my mum was a very poor woman in the village. But what mum used to do was that each time she harvested vegetables from her little farm, she always sent me to give some of it to the people next door. Then she always told me, when you grow up, remember there is joy in giving than in receiving. You get satisfaction from serving others and I will always do it.
Q So you finally did create a company where you now charge for public speaking?
Yes I did. The company is known as VVL (Extended hands) I now extend my hands as a public speaker and open my hands to where ever I am wanted. I have started in the UK but I eventually want to start speaking in other countries. I want to first establish in Cameroon, Madgascar and Chad. I will mostly concentrate on training to encourage young people in these countries who have finished school and possibly train them some vocational courses.
Q You are a mother, a wife, and a public speaker, how do you manage to have time to do all these things?
It is all about time management. If I could study in the university for four years with very young children and still do all these voluntary work, that means I am hard working and can find the time to do anything. I can multi task very well.
Q What message do you have for the African woman out there who probably is not achieving her full potential?
I will tell them they need to sit up. They need to know that life is made up of a lot of challenges which they need to overcome. They need to keep fighting to achieve their goals and not let any man undermine their aspirations. They still need to respect their husbands and respect their culture. They also need to do everything to achieve their ambitions. They need to work, they need to be educated and they need to get their husbands to help them achieve their goals. Education is what they must get at all cost because that opens the doors that are closed to a lot of African women. Their place is not in the farm and cooking only for their men. Let me tell you, I probably will not be here now if a Catholic priest did not help me. He gave me a chance for an education. He went away, came back later and helped me.