My Experience of a Speaking Circle At Hawkwood College

Fallow Deer Totem Animal

Wowser! it was an absolutely amazing day all round. 

Hawkswood College in Stroud is a beautiful venue for a course. Gorgeous grounds in the countryside.

Me and my friend Ann who teaches belly dance went along together their were 10 of us in total at the speaking circle.It was somewhat different to my last one 4 years ago. We had no video camera which I kinda would have liked so I could watch all my amazing feedback I got, but, I know for some of those there it would have been counterproductive having the camera and microphone.The facilitator was lovely very gentle and serene a very calming influence and very honest. It was refreshing to have the person running the circle saying that she still had work to do with feeling comfortable public speaking.

I think we did around 6 rounds each and it was not only intensely powerful but a deeply healing experience.

As a channel for healing energy I was astounded at the love in the room. We were sat in rows towards the front of the room where we were called one by one to go up and do a round. The first round was for 1 minute and in this round we were to say nothing at all it was about connecting with the audience receiving the audience through slow connected eye contact. This was probably the hardest for all of us to begin with as we didnt know anybody in the first round. But the love in the room was amazing and because everyone was in the same position with fears, phobias, insecurities about audiences, speaking, having lots of eyes staring, it was important to allow ‘whatever’ to come up. 

By the second round we had 2 minutes where we could speak or not speak it was entirely up to us. Some people cried, I was very surprised I didn’t. I seemed to have this amazing inner strength yesterday and I have no doubt the communication CD I have been listening to all week has had a wonderful effect.

When I got up for my first speaking round I explained that my legs were shaking, my heart was racing and it felt like my heart had fell into my stomach. After a while I relaxed as I felt this amazing support from the audience.

We then did a 5 minute round. I seemed to come into my own, this was truly amazing. I do not remember what I spoke about, my feelings I think, and my dreams in life and at the end I got my round of applause (its essential part of speaking circle you get a round of applause and have to stand there until it has finished) and then some feedback from the audience. I was told I was inspirational. Some felt a lot of joy come from me and it made them feel great, the facilitator said I was like a child, open, with no walls and as I took deep breaths she felt it helped her breathe too. I even moved my arms and stretched while standing there and it felt great to move my body instead of feeling like a stiff robot in front of people. All in all with each round my feedback was just fabulous! the last round was one minute and I thanked everyone for their amazing love and support and I shouted yahooo!! because I actually felt excited about being up there instead of feeling filled with dread and anxiety.

What I found most wonderful about the day was being an active participant in the audience. Being in the audience is as important as being the speaker. Part of the speaking circle process as an audience member is gentle loving eye contact, we dont talk while they speak or make any noise apart from natural laughter if it comes up. We are there, fully present, for the person up front, not thinking about what we are having for tea that night or preparing what we are going to say, just being fully present in the moment. We then, if we feel like it, give feedback to the person. However the feedback has to be positive, not about the content of the talk as it has to come from a feeling place for example “you really inspire me and I feel free when you speak” or “you say so much in your silence”. It is truly an honour to be part of the process of someone elses journey too.

I highly recommend this experience to many!

Afterwards my friends husband picked us up in his car and we drove down the country road through the Hawkswood grounds and as my friend and her husband chatted about the day something made me glance to the left and by the road next to some hedgerow was a deer! It was looking right into my eyes.I feel truly blessed what an honour to have this wonderful creature connect with me and what a message for the day:

“Deer medicine teaches us to use the power of gentleness to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are trying to keep us at bay. Deer has the gentleness of spirit that heals all wounds. Deer does not push to get others to change, Deer loves them as they are. Deer folks apply gentleness to a situation and become like the summer breeze: warm and caring.

Deer folk carry the message of purity of purpose; of walking in the light to dispel shadows. They know the work that they must do, and go about that work with no fanfare and no need for personal glory or recognition.

Deer blend well with their environment but are very sensitive to every sound or movement. They are often described as being swift and alert. They are intuitive, often appearing to have well developed, even extra sensory perceptions. Some times their thoughts seem to race ahead, and they appear not to be listening.
There are no shadows about deer; no ulterior motives; no hidden agendas; no lies or misrepresentations, and it is not possible for deer to knowingly hurt anyone or anything. Children sense this about deer people, and are drawn to them. They feel safe and not threatened. Deer works very well with children because of their innocence.

Deer medicine brings beauty and grace to any surrounding. Just as the deer bounds from one place to another, a person with deer medicine often moves quickly from one situation to another, often never staying long enough in one place to get a “full meal”.”

Black and white vintage deer art print with symbolic meaning for the animal totem deer. For anyone needing the reminder that gentleness and being loving is just as powerful as anything else in life . A gift for those who may be feeling tender right now, sensitive or in the need for graceful actions. This may be just the message you or they need to see. BUY NOW


Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

Find me on: Web | Twitter/X | Instagram | Facebook


  1. Anonymous
    June 24, 2007 / 9:31 pm

    HI Kelly, I love your blog. It’s refreshing to read about someone else with similar fears about public speaking. I’ve also tried speaking circles (in Bristol, very near to me) and found it transforming.

    Please can you let me know your email address so I can contact you with a longer email.


  2. June 26, 2007 / 2:16 pm

    Hi Kath, thanks for posting on my blog. Of course please feel free to email me my address is

    Kelly x

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