Stand Out Stories: In Conversation With Laura Woods

Stand Out Stories: In Conversation With Laura Woods

This is Laura Woods and this is her Stand Out Story in partnership with Barbour International. Join us in conversation with the Sky Sports and Talk Sport presenter, as we discuss her biggest influences and inspirations that got her to where she is today. 

Laura Woods on growing up

Sport was one of the first things that brought me out of my shell. One of the first things that I could feel quite confident in, whether that was in rugby, football, netball hockey any of those things. Because you know what your role is within that realm, you know what you have to do. Your job is clear. Your purpose is clear.

I’m from a very sporting background. I think it came naturally to my family. It was apparent from early on that it was just something that ran in our family.

I remember wanting to be a press packer for Newsround. I remember sending letters to them and being convinced I’d get picked. I never was. I must have applied five times or more.

Laura Woods on school

I loved writing as a kid. It was one of my outlets. I loved English and I loved Creative Writing.

School was a challenge. I loved English and I loved PE, but beyond that my mind would wonder. I was lucky; my English teacher took me under her wing and taught me to focus. I realised it was something I’d have to endure in order to enjoy a greater freedom afterwards, but generally school and I weren’t too in-tune with one another.

Considering what I do now, which centres around attaining and holding a certain attention, I can see why. School wasn’t a place for standing out, it was a place for just getting the job done and doing what you’re told.

Laura Woods on childhood influences 

My mum was by far my biggest influence in life. I never quite realised it at the time, but she was always the rugby coach, she was the head of the family, always leading the pack. She was the only female rugby coach at the club, but that never held her back. She was excellent at it. Her team was the best team in the whole club.

I think she instilled a fearless attitude in me. Which has been especially important in the world in which I operate. I’ve never really felt overwhelmed by it as a result. The male dominance in the sport isn’t an issue, and even that imbalance is changing by the day. It’s becoming a very different environment, but it’s never felt alien to me anyway. I think that’s in large part thanks to my mum.

My English teacher was both a blessing and a curse. I hated it at the time but she really pushed me and I’m thankful. I don’t know how I would have survived school without her.

Laura Woods on making mistakes

When I started at Sky I started as a runner. As a runner, you go and make all your mistakes off-camera. You don’t get that luxury on-camera. But every mistake I’ve made I’ve always survived. More importantly still, I’ve learned from it to ensure I never make that same mistake again.

No matter how much a slip-up can embarrass you or knock your confidence, you can always come back from it. Nerves will do some really weird things to you, especially when you have a camera in your face and you’re trying to act natural. The more mistakes you make, the better you learn to deal with them, you can shrug them off more easily, loosen up, and just get on with things.

All you can do is prepare. And having an understanding of how the whole TV and radio machine works helps too. Understanding other people’s responsibilities makes your own role that little bit clearer.

Laura Woods on industry idols 

Gabby Logan was the first person I remember looking up to. Not because she was a female, just because she had such a great presence and personality. Her delivery was excellent and she always looked really comfortable.

When you work for Sky, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to people to take advice from. Everyone is so welcoming. Gary Neville is my favourite. He has a way of doing things that is uniquely Gary, his own personality that he’s brought to the screen.

Laura Woods on social media

If you’re new to the game and you’ve never experienced that level of scrutiny before, it’s not a natural thing to know how to deal with. Lockdown made things much more difficult, too, as social media has become our only window to the world. Social media trolls make that view very ugly indeed. It can alter your perspective.

Sky have been wonderful to work with, though. They want diversity and they celebrate fresh perspectives. Those processes of change are always met with a little resistance, but they pave the way for greater diversity. That can only be a good thing.

Don’t get overhyped when you win, don’t be overly hard on yourself when you lose. Keep a level head. If you take too much to heart it really plays with your perspective, so it’s important to know what to withdraw yourself from a toxic situation. Because it’s not real. Social media seems big and scary, but it’s a tiny proportion of our overall audience.

Laura Woods on equality in the sports industry. 

It’s important. Listening to your idols tackle issues like racism, bullying, and sexism can really help things hit home. You’re more likely to place stock in the opinions of those whose careers you’ve followed with enthusiasm. The responsibility shouldn’t fall to sports personalities to teach people these things, but here we are. The more we talk about it, the more pressure to put on those in power to actually do something about it. But it all starts with talking about it.

Explore the Stand Out edit with Laura and Barbour International now.

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