In common with many people I spent a lot of my school years hoping the bell would ring before I would have to read out loud in class but I decided to challenge myself and joined a drama group. I also took the opportunity to take spoken English exams. Both are probably still the stuff of my nightmares but have provided lots to look back on. They also made me much more confident and were never regretted.
On leaving school and in the government on a management training course there was a day on public speaking and I was absolutely chuffed to bits to see I was marked down as a "natural speaker" - this after years of being told I spoke too fast and must slow down. Then another student came over and asked me if he had noted like he had her that I had a "posh voice". He hadn't but only last month I was telling this story to a friend who teaches people how to speak in public. When I told her what my fellow course member had said she looked at me astounded and pronounced a resonating "DID she?" So I think either my colleague was well off the mark or my speech has deteriorated over the years!