In 2004, I enrolled in my first Toastmasters class. This is a group of individuals that meet to improve speaking skills. If you haven’t ever attended, you need to check them out. It’s a great way to improve you speaking skills. I remember my first event like it was yesterday, I was so nervous, but anxious to learn and get better at presentations. A guest is given the option to observe only, or observe and participate in the table topic section. When asked, I courageously said I would participate. Table topics is when the table topics leader shares a random “topic” which can be a quote or word, or something to comment on for one minute. During the toastmasters meeting, there is also someone in charge of ringing a bell to remind speakers when using Uh, or so, or crutch words that distract attendees from the information presented. I remember when I was asked to speak, I didn’t know anything about the topic provided and totally bombed the session. The bell sounded off like a someone constantly ringing a church bell for the entire minute. I think I had over 25 Uh’s before I was finished. However, I kept coming back each week for two years and eventually got better while earning my competent communicator certificate. When I look back, I think about the importance of toastmasters on my journey and how each little failure helped me get better each day.
You see, we all are in different roles in our careers and EVERY role requires some type of presentation. When I was in operations, I presented to the moving crews about the importance of quality and customer service when moving families, when I was hiring talent, I presented on the benefits of joining our company. Today as a sales professional, I present the values of developing a moving partner and as a volunteer, I often present on the value of joining an organization. We ALL have speaking roles, and it’s up to us to develop in this area. You see, we have a choice, we can just either speak when it’s required and just “wing it” each time to deliver just enough to get through it, or we can work on gettering better as a speaker to inspire others in our path. However, we must be aware that when we decide to make the choice to get better as a speaker, we must be ready for failing along the way.
Great speakers understand it’s a process…
I have been speaking about corporate relocation for many years to the HR, mobility, and the payroll community, but when I published my book, Find Your Lane, my speaking career took off. I remember sitting in a Starbucks with my good friend, Yvonne Freeman and hearing her tell me about the importance of saying YES when people ask me to speak.
Her words stirred my soul with encouragement and sparked a fire in me to start right where I was to grow in my leadership as a speaker.
Many companies and organizations today call to ask me to speak to their organization, or at their conference about the importance of leadership development, personal branding, servant leadership, and onboarding strategies when relocating talent.
When I first started speaking about Find Your Lane, I would use notes to help me navigate during the presentation, once I gave enough presentations, I didn’t need to use as many notes. I would watch other speakers and try to emulate them along the way. The better I got, the more confidence I gained presenting to different groups. It is so rewarding to present to groups and hear them share about how something moved them to take action. However, one of the common threads I have realized is that no matter how good the presentation was, good speakers always walk away thinking about ways to improve the presentation experience. It’s like a football coach that might have enjoyed a team win, but still thinking about ways to improve. To be a great speaker, we must be willing to start where we are, learn, grow, and keep looking for improvement to keep the material relevant for the best experience. It’s all about process which includes having great lifters in your life.
Great speakers take risks… but they don’t have to do it all at once!
I recently presented to a group of professionals at an HR conference. I was pretty confident because I had delivered the presentation many times. However, this time I decided to change it up, and change it up I did… all at once! I took words off slides to try to create a better experience with pictures only and didn’t realize how quickly I would forget what I was going to say without the words to serve as a reminder not only for me but also for attendees. I thought it was going to be so great! I quickly realized I wasn’t ready for ALL of the changes at once and really struggled my way through the presentation. I missed many key points that were important to share, and had to go back and look at notes on the podium to find my place a couple of times. It broke up the momentum during the session and caused me to feel like I failed to deliver the presentation I was capable of delivering. What’s interesting about presenting to a group is that your attendees don’t really know what you missed, only YOU do! When the session was over, I felt really bad, and immediately wrote down some of the things I need to do to make this better for next time which included go back and add some content and different slides to make key points. When I got back home, I received several emails from attendees that shared how much they enjoyed the presentation. I thought wow, I guess thet didn’t see all of the misses like I did. It made me feel so much better. The good news is that when we fail, it gives us “markers” to go back and revise for improvement. Give yourself permission to prepare and present the best way that works for YOU. Also give yourself permission to fail so we can learn better ways to elevate the experience. Find Your Lane for success!
Great speakers have both good days and bad days…
When speaking, we are all going to have good days (presentations), and bad days. I recently was asked to be on a few podcasts. I remember how honoring and exciting it was to be asked to share my story. However, when I went on the podcast, I decided to put my notes away. I didn’t know the questions, but knew the topics and didn’t want to show that I had made some notes or needed them. When the podcast was over, I felt awful. I felt like I missed a lot of points that I wanted to say. When I talked to my network about it, they all were encouraging, but it didn’t mean I didn’t feel bad about missing the opportunity.
The next time I was on a podcast, I decided to make a few notes and have them available if needed to refer to. I shared with the podcast host “ that the interview was really important to me and I want to make sure that didn’t miss anything so I made a few notes and hope this would be okay”. The host said, that is great. Thank for you investing time to join me. During the podcast, I referred to a few of the notes, and walked away feeling great! It was a really great day!
You see, it might not have been the notes, it might have just been that I was not having a great day. We all have good days and bad days. Our company founder once said, “everyday is a good day, and some days are better that others”. Regardless of our preparation, we can still have a bad day, and that’s okay! Since then, I have been on other podcasts with and without notes. We just need to give our self-permission to do things our way! When we prepare and do our best, it’s all we can/should ask. Speaking at mastery level is really all about experience. People that reach mastery in speaking have been in the arena for many years and have experienced the good, bad, and the ugly. There are no shortcuts to mastery level when presenting, but there are strategies to help you get better every day. We just have to be willing to do our best and always be looking for improvement every day. Great sports teams lose games, but still win championships. Great athletes understand the importance of process to become better in their field.
Speaking in our profession must include failure, vulnerability, acceptance, persistence, toughness, hard work, and more. It doesn’t matter if you are in Recruiting, Operations, HR, Sales, Accounting, Finance, Published Author, Professor, Teacher, Coach, or a Volunteer leader, we are going to be in a position to speak and share content with others.
The question we need to ask is, how good do we want to be?
Do we want to just share the presentation and be done with it, or do we want to move people and inspire them into action? If the answer is move and inspire, then get ready for failure along the way. The good news is that failure will quickly lead to success, which leads to the lane of fulfillment. Wishing you success as you find your lane to speak with purpose and enjoy an amazing journey along the road of fulfillment!
Quote of the week:“I am an artist at living —- my work of art is my life.” Suzuki
Call to Action: Take action this week by visiting a local Toastmasters club, or starting some dialogue with your colleagues about your speaking skills and where you might look for improvement. Let me know if I can help. People are waiting for you to share your story. Go ahead… It’s time to move and inspire others in your path!
This has been A Relocation Minute on “Speaking requires failing for success” with Bruce Waller, for more information, call 972-389-5673, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my social media Facebook and Twitter page. Also, check out www.BruceWaller.com to review my leadership book “Find Your Lane” available on amazon.