Tag Archives: Public Speaking

I suck, I lost

Ok not really; especially on the post directly after talking about the power of words to build us up.

The results came in and the winner was not me…or the guy I thought should have won…or any of the other speeches/speakers that I really liked.  But I also was not the judge nor was I offering a scholarship so needless to say it wasn’t my call.

It is very hard to get better with victory.  Sports illustrates this so well in that there are so few professional teams that repeat and win championships in consecutive years.  It is through loss and defeat that teams get better, grow, and ultimately learn how to win.  It is a process that has been repeated in sports, business, love, and politics.  So I’ll take my setback and build from it, but what did I learn?

I’m still pretty good

i am far, far from being good-good, but I’ve still got some talent when the lights are turned on.  I’m seriously not polished and that’s ok, because I haven’t been working on it in years, but with limited time I put something together that resonated with people.  Ultimately speakers have to do just that, we will always be hyper critical of each other and ourselves, but when your 9th grade history teacher hears it and likes it, you know you’ve done something right.

I can reach people

Three minutes is an impossibly short amount of time to craft a message.  Eight days to create said message is also incredibly short.  I wish I could publish some of the things that were sent to me privately about the speech.  You can see the response on my Facebook wall.  It is a very small sample size and most of the people who viewed it know me and care about me, but they were not required to give input.  The best part is the people who don’t already love me, that found a way to reach out to me and say a kind word.

I’ve got to be my number one fan

I have a ton of people who love me and support me.  It is impossible to succeed at anything without support.  But I’m not going to be able to convince people who don’t love me to love me until I love me…the most.  I’ve never lacked in confidence, but conviction and belief are a different part of the equation.  The fan line has to begin directly behind me.

Keep writing

I’ve got to keep at it, it is an art.  Writing blog posts, writing short speeches, and writing bigger things.  I’ve got to use the inspiration in my mind and put it out there.  As a 1b to this, I’ve got to produce stuff and put it on social media.  People that don’t love me aren’t going to find me if I just sit in my living room talking to myself.

Find a mentor

This is old business logic.  Find someone who is further along than you and learn from them.  If I actually want to do something with this little bit of skill I have, I’m going to have to have someone directly help me.  There are no shortcuts to the top.

I’ve got a ton of ideas.  Some are motivational, some are about fitness and weight loss, some are directional, and some are just fun.  I really don’t know what to do next…but I’ll do something; I promise.

Ciao

SK

Ps…Here’s the winner

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Taking chances

Tomorrow I’m really going to put myself out there on a level that I have actually never done before.  Josh Shipp is one of the biggest rock starts in the speaking business in the youth market.  I’ve been getting his newsletter for years.  The only job he’s ever had is the only job I’ve ever wanted…being a professional speaker.

One of the business models that speakers utilize is creating training for other speakers to learn how to do what they have done.  His version of this is called Youth Speaker University.  I’ve known a few that have gone through it and it is a remarkable program, but it’s not cheap.

There’s a scholarship available this year for his program and all I have to do is create a video and put it out there for not only Josh, but the rest of the universe, to consume.  Now I have the utmost confidence in my ability to deliver a speech, I love being on the platform in front of 10 or hundreds of people, I love the process of writing and creating a well thought out message…I’ve just never bothered to put it on YouTube.

The scholarship applications says:

We are looking for someone with heart, legitimate talent and a sincerity to help others.

I can promise that I have two of those three…the talent part of the equation will be judged by the masses.

You never know what you can do until you try to do something.  Job changes with different schedules have gotten me away from Toastmasters, so my chops are totally out of practice.  There is a chance this could be an absolute hot mess.  There is also a very high probability that I won’t win the contest.  There is no way that I lose in this process though.  I get to write, rehearse, and deliver something that I really believe in.  I get to share it with people I love and from there who knows who’ll see it. I get to have a serious professional watch three minutes of me living out my dream.  There’s no way this ends up badly.

Taking chances is almost always scary.  The devil you know is better, than the one you don’t.  I’m going to step out a little bit and see what happens.  See you guys tomorrow.

Ciao

SK

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

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

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

Oh the places we’ll go!

The things we’ll see!

It has been quite a ride for the last few months and its not for public consumption, but blogging just hasn’t been high on my list of priorities.  So here has what I’ve learned and where we are going to go in 2010 and beyond…

Speaking

It is contest season again.  Please take the time to dig back through some of my older posts from last year and my process through the WCPS.  I am not participating in the quest for the toastmasters Superbowl but I am involved in coaching our clubs participant.  I’m also participating in the table topics contest again (I have a bitter taste in my mouth from finishing second last year).

I love the platform.  I love the process of crafting and molding a speech.  I love the interaction.  I love it all.  I have done more speaking these last few months than ever before.  I’m learning the business side of it .  It is coming it just isn’t coming as fast as I want.

Spirit

If you aren’t whole spiritually you need to stop reading now and get to work on it.  I have been all over the map with my relationship with God.  I have been mad, frustrated, questioning, and lonely.  It is a daily battle with someone who loves me unconditionally.  I have spent many nights questioning why I am where I am.  I realize that the place I am in my life is due to the decisions I have made, but I see that everything ties back to my spirit.  The decisions I make, the people in my circle, the work I do, and the direction of my life comes back to me and God.  The fact is that I have always known this, but sometimes I need to get a kick in the butt to refocus.

Physical

I’m fat.  Actually if I review my BMI, I think I am obese.  That is so not awesome.  Now I know that I am not the only one and I know that I will probably fight this battle forever.  Here is the problem, being fat is easy.  It’s easy to eat bad, lay around, and consume calories by the pile.  Now luckily I feel good.  Coaching Seaver’s sports teams challenges me constantly to try to keep up with 6 and 7 year olds.  I run but I’m not training for anything so it’s very hit and miss.  For me the killer is food. I’m picky and lazy with my food.  Maybe I’ll have a great speech for next years contest about how I became Mr. Olympia, but I seriously doubt it.

Professional

I want to speak.  I like working on web development.  I like writing resumes.  I have liked doing mortgages, managing people, and sales.  I LOVE speaking.  It is the thing that I do best and it is where I will make my future.  This is a simple one.

Hop back on board gang!  I got a lot of stuff in my head that is getting ready to come out.

Ciao

SK

It’s the journey right?

I want

I need

I deserve

I earned

I won

All solutions and answers based on the efforts that you have put in.  These are the rewards for studying for a test, preparing for a race, or working on an assignment.  As Americans, though, we really want the prize.

When our neighbor gets a new TV, we are happy but secretly jealous.

When your rival wins the game, you respect it but secretly feel like you gave it away

We want the reward and sometimes we forget about the work that it took to even be considered for the reward.

In the last week I have given three speeches.  I have never given that many different speeches ever.  From everything I have read and everything I have heard, this is how it all starts.  But I want the reward; and I wouldn’t mind having it now.  I want someone to “hire” me rather than “invite” me to do a speech.  But then I stop and think about the speeches and see why I have to walk through the valley in order to reach the summit.

Speech 1

I was asked to speak in honor of my high school band director.  He was more than a teacher to me and was really a father figure and a huge influence on my life.  I was honored to be invited and even more honored to be asked to speak.  I had never been asked to do something like this and it was hard.  Talking about someone you really care about challenges your abilities as a speaker to maintain control but still show the emotions you feel.  The first few drafts of the speech were soaked in tears, I just couldn’t deliver it.  I asked some advice from another speaker and he helped me tremendously.  In the end, the speech went off well.  I was a little too loud on my top end volume but it was funny, people enjoyed it, and it honored my friend.

Speech 2

This was a toastmasters club speech.  This is also the first speech I have given in 2009 that wasn’t in preparation for a contest.  I had to dig deep to even find a manual I could work from.  Because I had spent time working on speech 1, I was late in preparing for speech 2.  I found myself stuck between speeches that were too difficult to prepare for and projects I really didn’t want to do (I thought about just delivering speech 1, but I wanted a challenge).  I eventually ended up working from the entertaining speaker manual and doing project 3 “Make them laugh”.  Most of my speeches have elements of humor in them, but when being forced to be funny it is quite a challenge.  I ended up crafting a speech about the church I grew up in and some of the silly things that I saw as a child.  It required me to be very vivid in my descriptions without running through all the details too fast.  It also required me to take some risks of being a little edgy without offending anyone.  The end result was funny.  It really felt good to achieve my task and at the end of the speech I made sure to leave them with something to chew on other than just jokes.

Speech 3

I have been asked to participate in a speakers group to promote the school district that my son is in and the district that I grew up in.  Yet again another great honor.  We will get to be out in the community and give highlights of our childhood and let people know about the good things that are going on in the community.  For this week, the districts PR director wanted to see what we were going to say.  I really didn’t prepare much for this at all.  I had made some notes and thought about some stories I wanted to share, but I had gone through it only a couple of times a few weeks prior.  My fellow speakers were very prepared and had typewritten and well organized presentations.  I had a story about my son saying the “F” word and playing off that one incident.  One thing I have found over the last three years is that all my speeches have a lot of emotion.  This was no different.  In an audience of three I could see the tears developing and the smiles immediately after.  I again walked the edge with some of my content, but I’m learning that is my style.  I have to challenge your thinking and maybe even make you worry about where I’m going before I give you the reward.  It was also good to be able to speak to people that had never heard me speak and still be able to connect with them.

So of course I hope that I have an email in my inbox right now asking me to come speak at someone’s conference and asking what my fee is.  But I didn’t join toastmasters and I don’t like speaking just because one day I may make a living at it.  I like that process of putting together a speech.  I like practicing it in my living room in front of my dogs.  I like the fact that my son comes around the corner to see what I’m talking about.  I like looking into people’s eyes and knowing that they understand.  It is all those things and more.  At some point I’ll get paid (or at least I hope so) but that won’t add or subtract from the joy that I feel in doing the one thing that I do best.

Journey-1

vs

Destination-0

SK

Winner, winner, chicken dinner

Only one team gets the glory involved with winning a championship.  Everyone else leaves with a little disappointment.  Saturday I got to taste defeat.  And I am OK with it.

The contest was fun.  I got to meet so many amazing people that love toastmasters as much as I do.  The conference portion of the weekend was great.  I heard great speakers and went to some great workshops.  But the reason I went was to compete.  I had made peace with myself on the ride up and decided that success would not be measured by a trophy but instead by “how it felt”.

1.  The speech was good.

One of the most useful skills I have acquired in this process is the ability to take input and feedback, sift through it all, and apply my own style and substance to it.  This last two weeks I have had evaluations from some very experienced toastmasters, speakers, and writers.  I obviously couldn’t do everything they suggested but I found things that I felt made the speech better and put them to work.  At the end of the day, I loved the finished product.  It was 100% me.

2.  The competition was great.

There were so many great speeches on Saturday.  I knew coming into the event that the talent level would be high.  My fellow speakers did not disappoint.  I was falling down laughing as well as feeling emotions in my heart as they crafted stories about job loss, achieving your dreams, and impacting peoples lives.  It was artistic and funny and dramatic.

3.  The audience liked it.

At the end of the day, the speech was not for the judges it was for the crowd.  I could see in the faces of the people as they laughed and nodded that they “got it”.  I know that I didn’t do some “winning” tactics and techniques but that was OK because I stopped trying to win a week earlier and focused on telling a great story and making it connect with an audience.

4.  It wasn’t my time.

I don’t know if I will ever do a contest again.  It was mentally exhausting working on this speech.  I learned so much during this time and my future has been changed because of it.  But it just wasn’t my time to take that next step.  This clears the next 7 weeks of my life to DO my life and to take what I have learned and apply it in other areas.

5.  I did pretty good.

Even in loosing this contest, I’m in the top 1% of 1% of 1% in a club for people who speak.  I know that if I could have gone 8th instead of 1st or if Seaver’s voice recording would have played it could have changed the outcome, but the right person won and I would still be walking away with my head held high.

So contest season is over, now what?   I have my coaching hat on again for football.  I have some opportunities that are starting to present themselves to me.  I have a level of confidence that I did not have last January.  I have my faith, family, health, and friends.

End chapter one

Chapter two:  The best is yet to come!

SK