Melloney Anderson is a Senior Associate in the employment team at Gorvins Solicitors in south Manchester. In 2011, she invited Penny to advise her on making effective presentations. That developed into one-on-one coaching.
This is from a conversation I had with Melloney a few days ago.
How did you meet Penny?
She’d come to one of our employment seminars, observed how our team presented, and suggested some things we could improve. I was open to learning from her, having watched the confident way she herself presented.
Penny showed us how to bring our presentations alive, using images, developing our scripts, standing and moving in the right way – being more confident about what we were doing.
Penny spotted that there was still something holding me back. And she saw potential in me that I wasn’t aware of.
What was your situation at the time?
It wasn’t long after I’d joined Gorvins, and as well as the change of firm, I now had a young baby to look after, and was unexpectedly a single mum. In many ways, I felt almost as if I was starting my career again.
Although I’d been successful at the previous firms I’d worked at and had presented in public many times before, I had become nervous and uncomfortable at the thought of presenting again. I also felt under pressure to present a “successful lawyer” image, but that contradicted the way I sometimes felt.
Where did the pressure come from?
From me, rather than from people around me. I felt that to be good at presenting, I had to give off this aura of being a “smart executive type”, with lots of academic qualifications, wearing a smart suit.
Those things may well be important to my profession, but that’s not the whole picture. They don’t, on their own, make a good presenter – or lawyer for that matter.
Do you think you were unusual in feeling that way?
No, I think many people in the law feel they have to conform to that kind of image. Women perhaps feel it more keenly – particularly if they’ve had a career break to bring up their children.
So, that’s when the one-on-one coaching began. How did Penny help you?
She explained the battery of power concept to me, which made so much sense. I began to see how my energy was being drained away and I wasn’t replenishing it.
Penny then helped me to evaluate my strengths and understand how I could make use of them. In several coaching and mentoring sessions, she challenged me in a positive way to think about my approach to life and to use my values and experiences positively.
And where has that taken you?
I now feel able to be me.
Penny explained the merits of being authentic in what you do, and enabled me to put that into practice.
This has had a much wider impact than just improving my confidence when presenting.
I see the effect in the people I deal with. People approach me more. The conversations I have are easier and more productive.
Clients assume that you’ll get the legal stuff right, but they want more than that. And I feel now that the real me – the personable, approachable person that I really am – is able to give clients what they need.
I’m happy with where I’ve got to, comfortable with the idea that I have all the strengths I need to be capable in my life and job.
I’m glad I took the risk.
Why was it risky?
Asking for help shows that you’re vulnerable, and people might take advantage of that. But the value of the mentoring I got from Penny far outweighed any risk there might have been.
Perhaps I was more ready than some people might be to ask for help. No-one should be afraid to ask for a mentor, and you should never resist finding better ways of doing things.
Presenting is something that I never thought I would enjoy doing as much as I do now.
I’m proud of where I am now. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I’m proud of the way I am bringing up my little girl. Penny ignited the fire in me, and helped me find a much more positive approach to my life.
How would you describe the effect of the work you’ve done with Penny?
The coaching Melloney received is part of our Positive Personal Communication programme. If you think we might be able to help you in a similar way to Melloney’s experience, get in touch.
You can find out more about Melloney on the Gorvins website. Or you might meet her at Stockport Breakfast Club, which she’s currently co-chairing.