A Threat Which Changed My Life
In 1994, my boss told me, “Your public speaking skills are awful. You fix this, or you’re finished here.”
My boss was a real touchy-feely kind of guy.
Although I liked the idea of public speaking, it scared me to death. Whenever I was told to give a presentation, I knew it would be bad because I wasn’t born a good speaker.
I proved myself right every time I spoke.
The threat of job loss led me to the organization Toastmasters International and later, the National Speakers Association (NSA). If you’re not familiar with them, Toastmasters was created to help people understand the fundamentals of public speaking and manage their fear of it. NSA helps individuals who want to become professional speakers.
I joined Toastmasters to save my job. Surprisingly over the years, that was one of the least important benefits I received. I couldn’t have known at the time, but the threat to fire me was one of the best experiences of my life. It forced me to face my fears and past failures, and unearth hidden talent.
The Most Important Skill
I was reminded of my early days in Toastmasters when I read the story of prospective Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Jackson. She has an impressive background:
- Graduated with high honors from Harvard College
- Editor of the Harvard Law Review
- Law clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer
- Federal District Judge since 2013
What jumped out at me, though, was this statement she made to law students at the University of Georgia in 2017…
“Of all the various things that I’ve done, it is my high school experience as a competitive speaker that taught me how to lean-in despite the obstacles. I learned how to reason and how to write, and it gave me the self-confidence that can sometimes be quite difficult at an early age.”
Her years as a high school debater and national champion set her on a path to success in law.
Her insights into the importance of public speaking skills made me reflect on how my life changed because of learning how to effectively stand in front of people and speak.
The Bigger Benefits
After a short time in Toastmasters, I discovered public speaking is not an innate ability only a few chosen people are dealt with. It’s a learnable skill.
This insight freed my mind and my emotions. I became a voracious student of public speaking. So much so I eventually became a professional speaker, speaking skills coach, trainer, and author about this topic.
Like Judge Jackson, I can attest to the many benefits outside of standing up and speaking to a group. Five permanent benefits I’ve gained are:
- Increased self-confidence
- Influential leadership
- Willingness to take calculated risks
These were unleashed from me once I was freed from the limiting belief, “I’m not a good speaker.”
These mindset shifts have had a profound impact on the quality of my life. I’m never going to be a Supreme Court judge, but I can relate to Judge Jackson’s words when she talks about the critical impact effective public speaking has had on her life.
If you struggle with standing in front of others and speaking, work on this skill. Not just to impact people with your words, but also for yourself to become a person who is more confident, is a leader, and has a positive outlook on life other people want to follow.
Seeing Your Own Brilliance is Difficult. Why Do It Alone?
The biggest challenge to becoming a confident, influential and persuasive speaker is you often cannot see the power of your message or your ability because you’re blind to them. You’ve lived your life and you can’t see how your experiences could benefit others.
Even world-class speakers have coaches to help them see the gold in their experiences.
If you’d like to talk with Michael about how to become a better speaker, schedule a 15-minute call to determine how he can help you.
Schedule your no-cost & no-obligation ZOOM call: https://bit.ly/CPR15Laser