Rafiat Atanda: Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying | The Guardian Nigeria News


Rafiat Atanda is the communications manager at a leading financial institution, and with a heart in the social impact space. She is a Carrington Youth Fellow 2021, Margaret Ekpo Youth Fellow 2021, 2020 ONE Champion, Lawyer, Keynote Speaker, Host and Independent Presenter with over five years of experience. As the ONE 2020 Champion in Nigeria, she had the privilege of joining the top Tortoise G7bn summit and shared her thoughts on the kind of leadership the world should aim for. She has also organized a number of high profile events, judged several debate contests, moderated a number of panels and trained people in the art of excellent public speaking. A unique presenter on LASU Radio 95.7FM and Insight on Politics on LTV, she continues to lead the way and inspire action every time she speaks. She is the host of TalkWithRaffy on Instagram, a platform where she teaches people how to speak and communicate effectively. Atanda, passionate about women, girls and young people, shares her story in this interview.

To grow
Growing up was a mixture of fun, fear, faith and hope. Like many children in semi-urban areas, I grew up playing table tennis with boys, seasonally going to Mr. Biggs; defending other girls from male oppression, living with caution, because my parents had principles and were steeped in spirituality. It was a difficult environment characterized by juvenile delinquency, little or no consideration for education and other social vices.

But fortunately, I had parents who put my steps in check and served me as great anchors; instilled in me a deep moral compass; taught me the way of the Lord; instructed me to believe in myself and not to be defined by my immediate environment; and taught me that being a woman, even in a male-dominated world, is a rare blessing. I didn’t have access to luxury, but I did have access to parental guidance and an understanding of what true love for humanity is.

Passion for public speaking
I have always had an unwavering love for public speaking. As a student of Sari Iganmu High School and undergraduate at Lagos State University, I represented my school in different debate contests and won trophies. This interest stimulated since childhood; I loved talking. I remember how I used to rush out to turn on the generator, whenever it was time for The Debaters (an adult debating competition run by Mo Abudu), and it didn’t there was no power supply. After English lessons led by my teacher Ganiu Bamgbose, who is now Dr Ganiu Bamgbose, I was consciously practicing speaking properly with my good friend, Grace Uzoh.

Communicating with composure and good diction has become a crucial part of my being. People have always told me (they still do) that they like the way I speak and at one point my classmates at college called me a “diction master.” It’s been a hell of a ride, so they’re not surprised that I’m interested in public speaking and communication.

How organizations can improve the communications industry
Many organizations are improving their communication game. It’s interesting how they strategically jump on trends, engage influencers, spend a marketing budget on advertising in traditional and new media, and try not to sell their products or services. However, I think many organizations still need to learn how to humanize their stories, especially by standing with people on issues affecting their collective existence. Don’t just sit on the fence, they should join them or back off! No more robotic responses to customers either. Additionally, organizations need to ensure that they domesticate their communications assets.

The challenges of being a public speaker
The challenges I have encountered as a public speaker at an early stage include overcoming stage fright; speak with confidence; clarity and good diction; get the right response / emotions from the audience.

What Has Worked For Me: Whenever I talk about public speaking, I particularly share the power of the “3Rs”: Research, Rehearsals and Reflection.
I realized that the challenges I outlined above stem from a lack of mastery of the 3Rs. Before speaking to an audience, try to research them and the topic of the discussion. It will influence your 5W and H. Remember people have come so you can educate them, entertain them and inform them.

In addition, you must rehearse your presentation. That is to say, practice! Do it with friends, family or even the mirror (the mirror is my best part). Treat it like serious business. You cannot control what is not important to you. When you think about your speech beforehand, it gives you an idea of ​​what your tone of voice should be, including your choice of words, your appearance, etc. public.

The misconception about feminism
There are many misconceptions about what feminism is in this part of the world, and I think much of it stems from a place of patriarchal privilege, domination of power, and unhealthy social constructs. At the heart of feminism is the advancement of women’s issues; those that everyone should be deeply concerned about. But no, when a woman takes the bull by the horns and decides to deconstruct non-progressive practices, she is labeled “proud, rude, etc.”

For too long, women’s trajectories have been marked by under-representation and dehumanization in human endeavors. Women make the numbers, but unfortunately those numbers are just statistics that don’t translate into shared opportunities. I have met a lot of women who have shrunk to fit because boldness in their voice is a threat that could cost them marriage to a man in the near future. They continue to wallow in the abyss of social constructs and living entirely as humans does not seem like an option to them.

Regardless of labels, I understand that a person’s experience can be learned, but not universal. Equal opportunity is not a luxury and should not be gender specific. I believe in the social, economic and cultural inclusion of everyone. I believe in the freedom of women and girls to simply be humans who nurture their individuality. This is what feminism means to me.

What I learned from advocacy
Advocacy is not cheap; you need resources (money, time, manpower, etc.) and an undying passion to do good advocacy. Emotions alone do not drive advocacy; you need facts, a strong network, diplomacy and good lobbying skills. When you advocate, tell your story convincingly. It will not only advance your cause and improve people’s lives, but also contribute to your personal development. You can pursue a career in a different industry while doing great advocacy.

I am a corporate communications practitioner who has used my learning and skills over the years to foster sustainability. For example, I ran an online campaign during the rise of the 2nd wave of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria; the hashtag, #MoreThanAMask, garnered around 2.5 million organic impressions. As much as possible, advocate without being provocative. A smart lawyer doesn’t close the door, he leaves it ajar.

Three women who inspire you and why
Mo Abudu: What else to say about his intersectoral experience, his courage, his balance, his intelligence, his perseverance and his determination. One of my inspirations for being a public speaker, especially a public speaker wearing the hijab, was watching The Debater, an initiative of Mo Abudu. She is an Amazon who is constantly changing African narratives. She wears so many hats and does it really well.

The Squad (Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, Rashida Tlaib from Michigan, Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts and Cori Bush from Missouri): I love that these daring women represent different “Firsts” and together they have built a resilient and forward-thinking fraternity. They will rather be honest and feel the warmth, rather than being neutral. For them, the interest of the population outweighs the interest of the party. They are intelligent, knowledgeable, gracious and radical. What a breath of fresh air they are!

Christiane Amanpour: She is a remarkable aberrant and an outstanding storyteller. Despite being in the game for so long, Amanpour continues to beautify our screens with incredible stories of people, places and possibilities. She has shown that hard work and passion are major ingredients in achieving success and importance.

Where I see myself in five years
I love the intersection of media and communication, politics, politics and development. Over the next five years, I see myself taking on an international role that brings it all together and allows me to do a great and impactful job.

Advice for girls five years younger than me
You are taller than your current environment; don’t let it define you. Own your truths; occupy spaces and are not enveloped by social constructions. Live fully as humans; to breathe! Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from trying. Tell your story because no one understands what it feels like to be like you. Seek advice; you don’t have to follow the rocky path of life without a clue. Embrace humanity and spirituality, it will help you live a more fulfilled life.

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