Mahlodi Kgatle

Speakingdom (Pty) Ltd

What does your company do?

Speakingdom is a pan-African leadership academy that champions social impact through communication. Our service suite has three pillars: Speaking, Team Building, and Content Marketing Management, underpinned by the core of our vision: Nation Building. 1) Our Speaking services include: Facilitation, Public Speaking training Corporate and social event MCing At the height of COVID-19, we launched our public speaking training programme, How To Deliver A Killer Speech Without Dying, a virtual, 8-week course. Impact: We've trained career professionals and students to deliver speeches/presentations, and in 2021, we had our first strategic partnership with 67CEOs who hosted a business incubation program for SMMEs. We then curated a business communication toolkit for SMMEs, including tips on How to Deliver a Killer Pitch, empowering SMMEs to pitch their businesses with confidence. We have 43 graduates from our training programmes. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 2) Content Marketing Management services were inspired by our penchant for wordsmithing. From writing speeches to editing and proofreading our material before a speech, we saw a gap in the market for copywriting services, moreover on social media. This service was further inspired by my journey as a marketing specialist at one of SA's leading employee benefits companies. In 2019, our marketing department spent over 70% of its budget on above-the-line advertising, which was increasingly expensive. I saw the opportunity to leverage more of our owned media channels, but we only had a website and no social media presence. After pitching the idea to management, our social media strategy was approved, and I managed and operated the brand's social media channels, growing the engagement and following to 20,000 people on LinkedIn in the first three years, which is no small feat for a B2B brand. With the insights gained from experiences, I opened up the content management arm of Speakingdom in 2024, and we are servicing 2 well-known brands. The services include: Copywriting Ghostwriting LinkedIn training Language Translation Editing and proof-reading Social media content planning ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3) Team Building “Teamwork makes the dream work” is just a saying if the team does not feel part of the dream. No matter their size, teams are the backbone of every organisation. It is for this reason that functional working environments are necessary. Although colleagues are not always friends, they must coexist in a healthy and functional working environment. Using Purpose-Connected Leadership techniques, our teambuilding services suite includes: Communication-focused sessions Problem-solving sessions Trust-building sessions ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4) Nation Building: the backbone of Speakingdom Social responsibility is encoded in our DNA. Beyond the horizon of our profit-generating services, our township upbringing has exposed us to many challenges and opportunities that inspire us to curate development programmes for marginalised communities across Africa, particularly for women and youth. Our mission is to give back to communities through high-impact programmes, skills development initiatives and strategic partnerships FOR GOOD. These programmes are: 4.1) Work While Waiting: Workplace Readiness Skills Programme Launching on 16 June 2024, this initiative is to support unemployed youths with effective communication skills in preparation for the workplace. 4.2) Indigenous Languages Public Speaking Competition Launched in November 2021, this is a high-school public speaking competition for learners to participate in their indigenous/home languages.

What is your biggest success?

Publishing and presenting our own training manuals, particularly the one used to train SMME owners to pitch their businesses. In 2020 we launched our public speaking training programme which gained momentum but was challenging to maintain because registrations relied on individual participation. After seeing an opportunity on social media, we submitted a proposal to be the business communication skills service provider for an SMME incubation program in 2021. This was a game changer because the incubator facilitated participation and gave us a platform to reach many clients at once. This was also during COVID-19, so the blessing to do business and impact the trajectory of another SMME during that time was immense.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

In late 2021, I was increasingly overwhelmed with my responsibilities at my then full-time job and juggling Speakingdom, which was still a side hustle/ passion project. My husband and I also started fast-tracking our plans to build a life together and then almost in a heartbeat, we fell pregnant. In October that year, I suffered burn-out and was admitted into a psychiatric facility. I grappled with this "work/side hustle/life" battle for a long time and lamented the prospect of letting one go for the sake of my sanity. Naturally, the side hustle was dealt an uppercut and subsequently jabbed off my "to-worry about" list. Speakingdom was dormant almost to the point of deregistration for two full years because I did not file annual returns, never mind conducting any business transactions. My business bank account accumulated bank charges into the thousands, with no income. This experience taught me the power of pause.