Category Archives: Speaking

What do I do now?

Where are your recipes?

What program are you using?

How did you do it?

Did the weight stay off?

Where do you get your protein?

I fired up a FAQ before my last juicing adventure and it addressed a lot of these questions, but they keep coming from people who do not follow me on here.  I’ve gotten questions on Facebook, on text, and in person.  The in person questions are the best because then I start talking juice and voila here comes a million new questions.

From the beginning I wasn’t juicing for the weight loss or health reasons and I don’t talk about juicing because I’m trying to convert people.  Juicing has totally changed the way I think and relate to food and when I’m fasting it strengthens my faith and spirit.  This journey has been outstanding and now, maybe, it is time to really share what it has done for me and maybe help somebody else.

So I’m going into the lab.  I really don’t know what I’m doing or what’s coming next but what I do know is that I’ve always looked for that one thing that I’m passionate about and that I could really help people.  Could I have struck gold with this one?  Buckle up kids…the plane is taking off shortly.

Ciao

SK

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Please Hold

As I start writing this, I’ve been on hold for 15 minutes with AT&T.  How much time in your life have you spent just sitting on hold, standing in line, or generally waiting for something to happen.  I have tried to estimate the amount of time I’ve spent at the ballpark waiting for my son to play and I came up with approximately 2.7 light years.

Usually when I’m waiting I’m killing social media or messaging friends on my phone (what in the world did people do in the dark ages when we actually had to speak to people?).  Waiting for people to come back to me on the phone has inspired me to doodle amazing works of art, practice my signature for when I get famous, work on my grocery list, and even once filed my toenails at my desk (I had a private office at the time).

Now here’s my point to this ramble…

What if your life is on hold?

  • Holding for a mate
  • Holding for a child
  • Holding for a job
  • Holding for a break
  • Holding for sobriety

How much of our lives to we waste on hold waiting on something?  And more importantly how much of this time are we doing something useless like doodling or practicing you pageant wave (not me, but I have seen my secretary do it).  That is valuable time and space that we can never get back that just disappears as we wait for something to fill it.  As with most things in our lives if we aren’t actively filling the space, someone or something does it for us.  So as we wait our time gets filled with bad habits, bad people, and bad situations that often time have a bad habit of extending our wait time.  It is almost as if you get disconnected from AT&T and have to start the discussion all over again (as info, it has now been 28 minutes on hold).  And as you race that hamster wheel of life you are exhausted but somehow in the exact same spot.

So if you’re on hold right now, do something.  I can’t tell you what to do but something has to be better than waiting for nothing to happen.  I chose to write while on hold.  The reality is that I should choose to write or work on a speech every time I am in life holding pattern.  We are all waiting on something how much longer will you allow yourself to sit on hold drawing constellations that don’t exist?

(31 minutes and still holding)

 

Ciao

 

SK

Are you called?

Typically people are “called”into ministry.  I don’t know if God actually dials their number or if he sends a postcard.  Apparently people wait to get that call to know they are supposed to go into professional religion.

What about the rest of us?

Do fireman get a visit from their heavenly father in a flake retardant suit?

I believe that God gives us all gifts.  Sometimes it’s cool stuff like singing or hitting a baseball and sometimes it’s biting stuff like proofreading and breast feeding.  We don’t ask for these gifts they are just in our DNA.  We see our children and their gifts, but how hard is it to see our own gifts?

The fact is your gift probably isn’t flipping burgers, answering the phone, or digging ditches (if it is, that’s not your only gift), but we all like to eat and sleep indoors.  So for eight plus hours a day we work at non gifted jobs.  I can’t imagine that’s very fulfilling.  I know it’s not enough in my life and I love my job.
Another belief of mine is that the human spirit is “called” to find the body behind the calling voice.  In essence answering the question of what is my thing or what’s my calling?  I think those dreams are what wake us up hard days.  No one oversleep a calling, but we’ll snooze a forklift shift several times.

If you know me, I love to talk.  If you really know me, you know I love to public speak.  If you are inside my brain you know that I believe that’s my calling.  I still don’t know how or when, but one day I’ll be one of those guys on a book cover.

Dream big…You can only jump as high as you set the bar.

Ciao

SK

Flying high!

There are few things quite as awesome as coming off the platform.  Tonight was a good night.  Preparing, practicing, and delivering a good speech is an amazing process.  Sometimes it goes well and sometimes its just ok.  There are no guarantees.  Sometimes an audience gets your humor and sometimes they don’t.  Stories that hot home with one group fall on deaf ears at another locations.  As a science it is inexact at best.

I put the work in though, with no guarantees that it will work out.  Every once in a while though I hit a home run.  So I’ll just enjoy the trip around the bases.  And I’ll try to remember this the next time it’s not too good.

 

Ciao

 

SK

Speaker dude

I was sitting with some friends the other day and the topic of careers came up.  One friend is being coveting for his skills and another is very successful in his business.  As the discussion shifted to me it was directed to what I want to be doing.  As I explained my background, success, and desire to be a speaker I could see the confusion on their faces.

“People actually do this for a living?”

“Can you make any money doing this?”

“Who would you work for?”

“What do you talk about?”

“Where would you speak?”

Luckily for me I had answers for most of these questions.  Over the past six weeks I have pulled out all my “speaking business” materials.  The stacks of books, pdfs, e-courses, contacts, notes, and youtube clips that I have collected over the past few years.  The speaking profession is a noble one.  In your back yard there are probably more than a few professional speakers in your community.  In a college town many professors and researchers  travel the world sharing their expertise.  Many business people speak at local community organizations for small fees to help promote their business.  Numerous churches have guest speakers come in every Sunday to give their pastors a week off.  There are thousands of working speakers in the US.  Though it is a business that few people rarely think of as viable.

As I look at my resume I see several jobs.  Most of them in sales or something similar.  Many times I’ve been some type of manager or supervisor.  And many of those times it ends up not working out.  A lot of times I moved up the ladder or took some type of promotion, but some times I was just tired of doing what I was doing.  The beauty of life is that wherever you go you are always with you.  I’m the common denominator in both the good and the bad career transitions.

I have several super successful friends from my childhood.  One of the common denominators is that most of them have always known what they wanted to do, whether it was being a doctor, lawyer, film maker, or educator.  I remember being five or six years old coming home from church and preaching away.  I participated in my first speech contest in the third grade (it was a complete disaster).  I always enjoyed getting up in front of classes and doing presentations and book reports.  But just like my friends, I didn’t realize that there was actually a job associated with giving speeches.  So as a middle-aged salesman trying to support his young son, I am trying to make an intentional change in my professional direction.

If you haven’t recently tried to learn a business from scratch go to the library and read a few books.  Talent is far from enough to make it in any business.  There are probably thousands of bands touring Georgia right now that are talented enough to have a record deal but the music business is about more but talent.  So as I try to polish my talent and learn the business side of speaking I move forward with optimism I look forward to writing and posting more speaking highlights.  But for now it is off to work on a speech for a campus ministry group.

Wish me luck!

Ciao

SK

25 things

Last January there was a Facebook phenomenon called “25 things”.  The basic idea was for you to write 25 random things about yourself and publish them to the Facebook world.  It was a super neat exercise.  I learned so many deep things about my friends and many random funny things.  People are fascinating.  And these are just the people in my life.  My friends have traveled the world, delivered babies, met famous people, and seen remarkable things.

So as an exercise I decided to reread my 25 things and see what I could learn about myself:

1. It took me way too long to realize what is really important in life

  • This one hurts because I’m living the results of missing the boat for so long.  I’m glad I am finally getting some perspective, but I look at all the wasted years and just shake my head.

2. I love public speaking and wish I could do it for a living.

  • This is still true.  I have recently pulled a lot of my books about “the business” of professional speaking.  I have a lot of natural talent, but that is far from enough to make a living doing it.

3. I never thought I would ever coach Seaver in a sport, but I have found that there are few things more enjoyable than being around him and his friends learning a sport.

  • If you have been around this blog at all, you know how much I love those kids.  I have also found that it is the purest form of service and entertainment for me

4. I am great at starting things, but not as good at finishing them.

  • Still an issue.  I am actively working on this.

5. I am sad I didn’t have a “normal” family when I grew up

  • I have realized over the last year and a half, how hard this really effected me.  It really messed with my wiring.  The good thing is I have really gotten closer to my brothers over the last year.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we had started on a good note.

6. I am so much better off than I deserve

  • Amen!  My God is a good God and has my back.

7. I didn’t think I would like FB, but it has really reminded me of how many great people I have in my life.

  • See my note on thing number 6

8. My wife makes me laugh all the time.

  • She is now my ex-wife, but she still makes me laugh a lot

9. I have an addictive personality and constantly have to work to stay on track.

  • One day at a time.  It works if you work it.

10. My two dogs are angels on earth, Thanks God

  • One of those dogs has gone to heaven to be with God.  That was a hard decision to make to put him down.  The other dog was sad but he now has a little puppy to keep him young along his side

11. I can’t remember my mom or dad ever saying they loved me.

  • I can safely say that I still don’t remember if they said it, but I have forgiven them.

12. I am a very picky eater and have rules for most things I do eat.

  • It sucks being a picky eater, but it still hasn’t kept me from being a little too heavy.

13. I wear a mouthpiece at night so I don’t snore.

  • Still true

14. In my allegiance hierarchy it is UGA then FSU

  • Glory, glory to old Georgia!

15. I wish I had played football in HS

  • Watching Seaver play and love the game is a pretty good plan b though 😉

16. Before I get to old, I want to do one more step show with my KKPsi crew

  • Come on fellas, let’s make it happen!

17. Right now my favorite artists are Sugarland and Jay-Z, I continue to confuse myself

  • Current confusion is the new Eminem and Lady A

18. It’s hard for me to really trust someone.

  • Still hard, but I think I finally realize that I WANT to trust people.

19. I still hang out with my core crew from my childhood

  • MOFO fellas!  I love you guys

20. I have 0 style

  • Nope, not smooth at all.

21. I can’t believe that my “church home” is rock and roll and video screens

22. My wife is the best thing in my life

  • She gave me the most amazing little boy ever, even in divorce she’s an amazing woman.

23. I have a fear of not being successful

  • I constantly battle feeling like I’m a failure.  I need more perspective as to what I am really doing.

24. Seaver is perfect

  • Still perfect, just smarter, taller, faster, sweeter, and funnier!

25. Since my surgery I have a new appreciation for just being able to go out and play

  • I also have an appreciation for how easy it is to get hurt (which reminds me, I need to go stretch).

Facebook people, go read yours again and see what you learn about where you were and where you are now.

Ciao

SK

Contest Season

Now that football is over with, I can move my sporting interests on to the other big thing in my life…

World Championship of Public Speaking

or

The 2010 Toastmaster’s International Speech Contest

The road has started to the international convention in August where one person will be crowned as the best for this year. Now this year I will not be competing, so I will be watching this years contest from the coaches seat.

I have the pleasure of working with a good friend that helped me a lot last year as he winds his way through the season. He delivered a very topical, humorous, and touching speech about our addiction to texting, tweeting, and smartphones in general. Now I know that non of you have ever texted in church, updated your Facebook status in the potty, or tweeted while waiting in line at the grocery but the fact is many Americans do and the art of communication is being lost.

Watching the contest from this seat is totally different. In some ways it is better and in some it is MUCH worse. One of the greatest things about being a toastmaster is learning to give effective evaluation of speeches. To my knowledge I feel as though it is the best way for someone to learn how to give feedback on someones presentation and it is a skill that an active attendee of meetings could get a chance to do on a monthly basis.

That evaluation practice is the foundation for coaching. Now, if you google “speech coach” you will find countless websites, blogs, products, videos, and face men for what basically stacks up to being people who are giving evaluations of speeches and oral presentations. I have several friends that are part of this google search and they are very skilled at what they do.

  • They can polish an accomplished speaker
  • They can help ceo’s craft stockholder presentations
  • They can help ministers improve and expand their ability to reach their congregation
  • They can help a virtual novice overcome jitters as they deliver their first proposal
  • They can help a sales manager perfect her ability to demo a product

It is a cool job!

So now I get to play “pretend speech coach” and try to help my friend get as far or farther than I did last year.  So how am I going to do it.

One of the biggest lessons I learned last year is to be myself.  I am not an expert in grammar, staging, speech writing, or visual aids.  What I am is that I am as good as anyone I have ever seen with vocal variety and pretty good with my use of body language.  Now, I have some skill in all the other areas but when it comes down to how I can help him the most is to help refine his already strong natural abilities in my two areas of expertise.

The other thing I learned last year was really how to listen to a speech.  Those that were around me will tell you that I listened to countless speeches.  In the beginning I just put them into the good or bad territory.  Which basically was, do I like it or don’t I.  As the year progressed I became a more critical listener.  Looking for both strength and weakness in every presentation I watched.  As I became more critical I also became more open to the grey area that existed between good and bad and eventually worked to a point where I filed everything I heard in the box of “good and how can I learn from it?”.

I hope the results tonight are in our favor and I can keep learning how to coach someone.  And even if it doesn’t I’ll still go to the contests and still watch as people get better and better.  And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll pull a Brett Farve and unretire and put my hat back into the contest circle.

Ciao

SK

Off the cuff

Our terminology in Toastmasters is “Table Topics”.  You may call extemporaneous speaking, off the cuff responses, thinking on your feet, or just plan talking.  In my time with Toastmasters I have come to believe that it is the most critical skill that we can give our new members because we all use it and we use it every day.  It is also a skill that I would consider myself an expert at in the context of Toastmasters and would like to share some of my “how to do its”.

Now first, let me separate how I deliver a table topics into a couple of categories…

Fun

Pointed

Contest

Fun

I love to laugh.  It is a lot of work to support a frown and a down attitude.  Many times when we are offered a question that is a little silly, is so far out of your realm of understanding, or is something that requires a comical answer.

“Tell me about a time you were embarrassed.”

“What is the best way to frost a cake?”

“What is the funniest movie you have seen and why?”

The key with a fun response is no different from any other response, you have to think.  The key to delivering an effective response in any situation is to think.  People are scared to death of “the quiet game”.  That is that mythical time between when the question is asked and when you craft your answer.  Awkward silence is very uncomfortable and five seconds feels like five hours to most of us.  It is though, the key to gathering your thoughts and preparing a response.  When you have a “fun” question or you want to craft a “fun” response, your time in the quiet game is not to be spent on structure, organization, transitions, or rousing summary statements.  In your moments of preparation you are simply searching for the ONE story that you can relay that is easy to tell, has characters, and has a definite and natural ending.  The hardest part of this process is taking enough time to find that story and not allowing the uncomfortable silence to cripple you.

Pointed

These are fun moments and ones that are more like interview questions.  These are topics that you have an opportunity to share a belief, point of view, or message that means something to you and your being or soul.

“Who was the biggest influence on your life?”

“Define a role model.”

“How would you advise the President?”

In an interview the potential employer may ask you about how you handled certain situations or why you are right for this job.  In the same way that you play the quiet game for fun topics and questions, that is that same place you need to start for pointed topics and questions.  In that time you are sitting and thinking you are now searching for an emotion and not just a story.  These responses have to be delivered from the heart and are not simply a matter of retelling a situation.  Adding to the quiet game you must now add emotion.  Even in an interview situation, there is an emotion you need to convey in order to show an employer what is truly inside you.  So now we add find the emotion to think to give a pointed response to a question.

Contest

I’m a competitor.  I had a great run last year in the speaking contest but along the way I also finished second in the state in Table Topics.  I’ve actually won our club contest every time I have entered not to mention the several times I have won the best table topic of the day.  It is something I’m pretty good at.  Contest speaking is fun but it is different from a regular table topic.

“What is toastmasters?”

“What does the Superbowl have to say about our culture?”

“Which is more important listening or being heard?”

Theses are all questions that I have had in contests.  Now the process to answer these is still built off the same foundation.

  • Think
  • Emotion

Now we have to add in the last piece…

**********Find a ledge**********

This is my term for looking for the place to put your foot to build your speech.  In that 5-10 seconds where I am preparing for my response I am replaying the question in my head and looking for my ledge, that anchor I will tie my two minutes to.  From that ledge, I then try to find 2 stories that can be told and that I have some emotions for.  I know that seems like a lot to do, but that is where my mind is going.  I’m also trying to find an amazing opening sentence and I’m thinking about how I may be able to tie it all together.  You can do a lot in 7.7 seconds.

So the next time you are asked a question and you have to respond off the hip.  Are you just going to start spewing data and opinions?  Are you going to give a canned answer that is safe and uncreative?  Or are you going stop, think, find a story, deliver some emotion, and find a ledge?  If you do nothing more than stop and think, you are well on your way to not only winning the quiet game and table topics, but to improving your skills in speaking!

Ciao

SK