Monday, January 31, 2011

Do You Have Shut-Up Syndrome?

Colin Firth as Prince Albert, facing the firing squad, err, audience.
Better late than never. I am clearly a latecomer when it comes to "The King's Speech", both by speaking coach blogger and Oscar nominator standards. I finally caught the movie last week - an early showing at 10:30 in the morning. Popcorn is still good before noon.

My purpose today is not to write a review - for that I'll let you head to my favorite reviewer instead. Suffice it to say I enjoyed it tremendously - and if you are a speaker, you most likely will as well.

The film's plot centers around Prince Albert, who later becomes King George VI, and his inability to speak without stammering. The opening scene was enough to evoke tears from this viewer, as Albert faced a live audience in Wembley Stadium, his stammer more pronounced with each fear-delivered word.

While the film implies Prince Albert employs many speech therapists over the years, he makes no progress. Finally, his wife brings him to Lionel Logue, who is considered to be 'unorthodox' in his methods. Mr. Logue's approach is more psychological than mechanical. Prince Albert's unwillingness to be open with his life and feelings creates the push and pull of the plot, as we watch the two men dance around the truth that Mr. Logue has instinctively surmised within minutes of working with Albert.

It is a simple truth. A truth that is the foundation of the grand fear of public speaking in nearly all of us. A truth that, despite its simplicity, is often the most complicated to identify and overcome.

Here's the truth. At some point in our lives, often many, many points, we are told to SHUT UP. That we and our ideas and thoughts don't matter. Parents, teachers, nannies, classmates, coaches, bosses, heck, sometimes it can just be your little sister, all tell us to SHUT UP, planting a seed in our minds that we don't have a say about the situation at hand, and often, about our lives in general.

I call it Shut-Up Syndrome. We all go through it, but we don't all deal with it in the same way. How is it affecting you? Consider the following:

- What was your Shut Up to Speak Up ratio? In most cases, the world alternates its discouraging/encouraging ways. Generally, we are told by the same people who tell us to Shut Up to succeed and Speak Up, as well! Those who do successfully Speak Up, and experience various victories in their lives, often have a much reduced fear of public speaking. Those of us who end up stumbling are often bypassed for the next person in line, leaving us licking our wounds as we leave our self-esteem on the ground behind us.

- Do you fear specific audiences? Some of us would rather speak to a large room than a small group. Some can speak well at church but are terrified at work. There are those who can be eloquent anywhere but at the holiday family dinner table. While success can breed success, it is in our nature to slip back in comfortable roles in uncomfortable situations, to avoid the Shut Up feeling.

- Do you feel you have nothing worth saying? This is a common effect of Shut-Up Syndrome. We feel everyone else's thoughts have more value than our own. This attacks in two ways. First, we stay in the background, never speaking up, and hide in being 'the quiet one'. Second, when we are put in a position to speak, we panic, and worry that the audience will realize that our ideas really DON'T matter, right in the middle of the speech. We envision being interrupted, audiences ignoring us or walking out, and possibly throwing produce. (While this may not be helpful in this post, rest assured the preceding happens even when we do believe our message matters. Except for flying produce. Usually.)

As the King's Speech progresses, Mr. Logue slowly works to convince Prince Albert to give himself permission - permission to think his thoughts, permission to speak, and even permission to be King. While the movie playfully depicts the mechanical aspects of coaching that occur, from tongue-twisters to singing and swearing your way through speaking, it is this psychological piece that is so often overlooked by today's coaches.

Great speaking doesn't start with what you say or how you say it, but your willingness to give yourself permission to say it in the first place.

Only you can turn on the permission switch. There are people out there who may help you find it, but only you can actually power it on, and send enough voltage through your psyche to send Shut-Up Syndrome screaming out of your personality.

Without going into full coaching mode, let me leave you with this: Out of the nearly 7 billion people on the planet, only you have lived your life. Just as we learn from hearing others' experiences, others will learn from yours, if you are willing to share it. There will always be those who wish we'd Shut Up, and even now they may tell us to do so. But there are so many more who need to hear what you have to say, as only you can say it.

Speak & Deliver today. If your audience throws produce, make a salad. Keep speaking anyway - you deserve to be heard, and we deserve to hear you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Toastmasters Friday: Why Does International Become Inspirational?

2010 World Champion of Public Speaking David Henderson

For the next few weeks I'll be writing contest-oriented posts, as Toastmasters International's Spring Contest season begins, and with it, the beginning of the International Speech Contest, which annually produces a World Champion of Public Speaking.

A question/gripe I hear every year about this time is "Why do inspirational speeches always win the contest, even when other speakers are better?"

A valid question/gripe, particularly when nowhere in the judging criteria for the contest does it say the speech should be inspirational in nature. In fact, the speech can be ANY kind of speech you want, on any topic you choose: Economics, Politics, Religion, Global Warming, or even Romance. You can use props, PowerPoint and pop music. You can wear funny costumes and jump on chairs and use sign language.

And yet, even though today's judging training at Toastmaster International's website reinforces the above, few people do much else than give an inspirational or motivational speech. When they do, they most often lose, particularly at higher levels of the contest.

Why? A few simple reasons:

- Tradition. Look over the years of winners, and they ALL have something motivational or inspiring to say. Contestants and judges alike don't have much actual evidence to support approaching it differently. It's not like we've ever had a champion who talked about Immigration Law.

- Lack of Strong Judges Training. From contest to contest, it can be a bit of a crapshoot. Some judges know the book backwards and forwards. Others are judging for the first time. Training is often no more than a few minutes of covering the basic criteria, telling people not to show bias, and reminding them to sign their ballot. While the resources for better training exist, training is only as good as the folk in charge are capable of, or willing to, provide.

- Lack of Strong Alternative Speeches from Equally Strong Speakers. Usually the strongest speakers focus on winning, and thus go with a formula that works. It will take some brave speakers to decide to break the mold. Just as speakers once feared leaving the podium, using humor, or wearing anything but a suit back in the 70's and early 80's, today's innovators must be willing to risk the trophy for the importance of their message.

But the most important, in my mind is:

- Connection. Toastmasters audiences, and judges, are often wildly diverse, from age to experience to personal peccadilloes. No matter how strong a speech you deliver about the national deficit, you are going to lose members of your audience. You may think you're spot on in defining the sins of the world, but your audience may not just disagree with you, but vehemently disagree. And if you can't find a way to make quantum physics matter to me, you don't have a quark of a chance.

Inspirational or motivational topics are fairly safe. They cover achieving victory in the face of adversity. They may illustrate values we learn at one point but fall short of later on. They may point out tools and tricks to allow us to live better lives. What they are not, 99.9 percent of the time, is controversial.

The challenge in these topics is not in how not to offend the audience, but how to keep their interest while taking them to a path they are often expecting or are already familiar with. Just as people continually watch formula police shows and sitcoms decade after decade, or choose to listen to the same music over and over, audiences like the idea of being comfortable with your speech.

Speakers rarely bring new ideas so much as remind people of the ideas they had and never applied. Great speakers do it in a way that keeps the audiences engaged and entertained, as opposed to offended or objectionable. That goes for all speakers who actually intend to move their audience to an action they actually desire, as opposed to rioting in the streets.

Maybe this years World Champion will earn the trophy with an amazing Tall Tale, or hilarious humorous oratory. Maybe they will have such an amazing take on space travel that they woo audiences and judges alike. Maybe the technical ability of this years winner will allow them to promote Sarah Palin without creating a bipartisan atmosphere that sends their dreams straight into the Boston Harbor.

Are you willing to be the one who proves it?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Speaking of President Barack Obama

And everybody is these days, particularly this morning, on the heels of his 2011 State of the Union Address.

I haven't spent a lot of time picking apart political speeches, or presentations from TED, or even movie speeches. There are plenty of others that do, for one, and I don't have a lot of time to sit and pick speeches apart outside of my own clients, for another.

Today I'm making an exception. President Obama is in the middle of his term as the 'Leader of the Free World', and he has faced incredibly low approval rates in the last two years, even with the rise in his stats in the last few months. His position is tenuous at best, following the elections last fall, and the resultant loss of so many democratic voices on Capital Hill. His re-election seems highly in doubt, even with the risk of Sarah Palin being the next Republican candidate. (Oops, there's the third reason I don't do this much - I actually have political opinions that are tough to bury, even in non-partisan blog).

Last night was his moment to rebuild momentum, some would say for the United States as a whole, others would say for himself. Regardless, he spent an hour covering as much ground as possible in the most uplifting ways he could find in the midst of a hobbling economy that only shows small glimmers of recovery, but enough, apparently, for him to refer to the worst of the recession being over. (There I go again...)

Lest I stray too far into political discourse, lets look at some of the nuts and bolts of the speech last night:


He began by acknowledging the new Speaker of the House, followed by the absence of Representative 'Gabby' Giffords. By showing respect and honor to others, but through familiarity (using Gabby instead of Gabrielle), he took some of the tension away from himself, while doing the right thing at right time.

He quickly followed with a theme of our country being 'Our American Family', and tied it in to the dreams of a little girl in Tuscon, Arizona - touching on, but not bringing back wholly, the tragic loss of Christina Taylor-Green and 5 others in the shooting in early January.


The President painted several contrasting pictures in his speech. He compared what it was like to work in America 80 years ago with our job crisis now - and suggested we should not be discouraged, but challenged.

He compared our place as an educational leader in the 50's and 60's with our rapidly falling status today, and again issued a challenge. In two particularly powerful moments, he suggested that our teachers are not given their due, compared to South Korea, where teachers are identified as 'Nation Builders', and that our student are underappreciated - 'not just the winners of the Super Bowl be celebrated, but the winner of the Science Fair'.

He compared our desire to build a strong infrastructure, from roads to rail to internet, from its heyday in the mid-20th century to its much lower measure today, and again, issued a challenge. To illustrate the point, he compared Edison and the Wright Brothers to Google and Facebook.

He also made a switch, from comparing good to bad to bad to good, in his references to the Health Care policies he's helped put into place. While stating he's open to ideas, he simultaneously said he would not allow people to be told they would have to go back to the system as it was, comparing his new policies with those prior. This switch was no doubt designed to set him up as someone who is already taking on the challenges he has issued, and as the right leader in the future.

In what I would say was one his strongest moments, he discussed the United States' SPUTNIK moment - suggesting that today we are experiencing our own version of this challenge issued by the world. By comparing our past with our present, he laid down a gauntlet to today's Americans, though without, I would argue, the necessary drama President Kennedy had at his disposal.

In the final moments, he also contrasted our "contentious and frustrating and messy" democracy with the governments in the world that do what they want, regardless. His follow up "we wouldn't trade places with any other nation on Earth" brought strong, if obligatory, patriotic applause.

Personal Stories

Several times, be it a local roofing company, a small manufacturer who worked on drilling during the Chilean Mining rescue, or a mom going back to school, President Obama worked to make his speech personal. To give us example we could relate to, likely in an effort to show he is both in touch, and of the mind to bring our government back to a personal level. Did it work for you?

I found it, at best, forced, and he didn't seem emotionally connected to the stories, as much as impressed with himself for having them. Still, he found a way to tie them in at the end. Whether they were memorable enough for us to make the connection is questionable.


He's certainly mastered the Rule of Three. Here are just a few that stood out to me:

- shuttered windows, vacant storefronts, frustrations of Americans who've lost their jobs
- We need to out innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world
- 21st century government that's open and competent, lives within means, driven by new skills and ideas
- We've sent a message around the globe - we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you


The President had some major issues with humor in his speech, often times tripping his way through a humor line.

When discussing cutting off money to oil companies, which garnered large applause, he weakly tripped over a follow up line that oil companies are doing just fine on their own - a joke that landed with a thud.

He used strong self-deprecating humor in saying 'some of you still have concerns over the healthcare legislation', and used it to transition for a call for innovative ideas to improve healthcare.

He tripped on sarcasm when comparing cuts to innovation would be like 'lightening an airplane by taking off its engine' - it sounded like 'lightning', and failed to impact the audience.

He joked about high-speed rail not only being faster than a car but even a plane, without the pat-down. Ill-timed, I would think, with the bombing at Russia's busiest airport this week.

Only once did he get a strong laugh, with sarcastic reference to two government departments to handle freshwater salmon vs. saltwater salmon, followed with a Topper - "I hear it gets even more complicated when they're smoked", which drew a laughter on several levels, one might think. He milked it, perhaps because he seemed a bit tickled by his own success, and the laughter turned to applause. Despite the success, it isn't beyond belief to think the applause was a mechanism to save him from himself - either his self-congratulation on getting a laugh, or getting lost in his speech because of his surprise his humor finally worked.


In a 'State of the Union' address, one of the purposes is to cover as much ground as possible, so as not to offend any part of the country.

- The Economy
- Education
- Ecology
- Science and Innovation
- Manufacturing
- Infrastructure
- Big and Small Business
- Tax Cuts
- Religious tolerance
- Government Spending Increases
- Government Spending Cuts
- Legislation Earmarks
- Foreign Policy
- Military (and Gays in the Military)

This is what I can remember without going back to my notes - just the fact he made that many facets of our world memorable to me is a testament to the speech.

Persuasive Method

He kept a Silver Thread throughout - tying it all together, as mentioned in the Intro, by identifying our country as "Our American Family", personalizing it for all of us, evoking emotions of brotherhood, sibling rivalry, and an us against the world mentality.

He outlined problems, attempted to enable us to feel the pain of our failings, then proposed solutions, thus pressuring us and our elected leaders to back his plans for a future, which included goals as near as 2015 (presumably the end of his second term, if he gets one) and 2035 - making him a leader for today and the future.

He threaded together the personal stories he used throughout the speech, and his lauding of our educational system's open-mindedness, as examples of America being a country with big ideas that can do big things - leaving the statement "like we used to" unsaid but still felt throughout the room, and perhaps the worldwide audience.

This final bit of persuasion was the close of his speech, which followed his line about not trading places with another nation on earth. The strength of the latter line muted the energy and effectiveness of his ending, which appeared a bit sudden and truncated to this listener.

Overall Effect

I believe this speech will have some of the effect the President hoped for: it will rally his current supporters and temporarily quiet the concerns that he's already in lame duck status. Whether it will have the full effect he wants - creating new legislation and reinvigorating his suffering image after his first two years in office, is anyone's guess, and of course, everyone is guessing today.


If I were coaching our President, what would I suggest?

- less forced humor, and more preparation delivering it with commitment. Each time he attempted humor, he seemed remarkably uncomfortable, which comes from either a lack of prep, or a lack of belief in the humor itself.

- stronger vocal variety and facial expressions. President Obama got there on the strength of his passion, and he's become passionless as a speaker since taking office. He still has power in his voice, but the emotion seems to have been drained away by a more measured approach. The most passion I heard was when he discussed what he would not give up when it came to health care reform.

- listen to the audience. He seemed to read his speech without regard to audience response, which resulted in several anticlimactic moments. Once they have applauded you, move on, unless you can top your statement.

Finally, its interesting to note that the State of the Union address was initially known as the 'Presidents Annual Message to Congress', and in 1801 Thomas Jefferson chose to end the practice of giving it as a speech, instead giving the document to congress where it would be read aloud by a clerk. Jefferson found the speech to be reminiscent of the monarchy the U.S. escaped, and its 'Speech From the Throne'. Woodrow Wilson brought the practice of speaking back amidst some controversy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the term 'State of the Union' in his 1934 address. The last president to eschew a speech was Jimmy Carter, who passed on his last opportunity in 1981.

In today's broadcast-rich world, I doubt it will ever revert to Jefferson's ideals. We are a world moved by the emotions evoked by a speaker's emotions, gestures, expressions, and delivery. President Obama and you have that at least that in common - the need to Speak...& Deliver.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pick up the Pace!

When was the last time you factored in the Pace of your speaking voice?

It's not something speakers often think about, unless we are in a timed speaking situation, or desperate to sit down and shut up. It's easier to just speak the way we speak, and trust that the audience is taking in the brilliance of our content.

Not thinking about it can be a disastrous mistake. Pacing is crucial to keeping your audience engaged, and getting your point across.

Not to be confused with Vocal Variety or Tone of Voice, Pacing is the speed at which you speak. In a typical conversation, we speak at 100-125 words per minute. Giving a speech, say in Toastmasters or in a work presentation, that speeds up to 125-150 words, with gusts up to 175. Adrenaline, the knowledge of what we're going to say ahead of time, and the idea that we either don't want to be, or won't be, all contribute to our faster speech patterns. Speakers who succumb to nerves will often speak at an even faster rate, leaving themselves, and their audiences, breathless.

According to various studies, our average listening speed is between 400 and 700 words per minute. My own opinion leans to the 400 number - since I can't understand much of what the 'World's Fastest Talker' is saying below - in fact, even 400 seems too fast!

Even that statistic is limited. There is a difference between words heard and ideas understood. A speech isn't just about words. It involves ideas, emotions, concepts, mental pictures, problems and solutions, and usually, a call to action.Your speaking Pace must take all of these components into consideration for you to connect and communicate with your audience.

People need time to take in the concepts and consider them for themselves, internalize them, before catching back up to you and your words. Give them the time by slowing down enough to allow them to think. We're not talking minutes here - but seconds. Either slow down your speech and add a short pause, or speed up your speech to add urgency and heightened excitement - then follow with a longer pause. Both will give your audience their necessary "hmmmmm..." moment.

Tips to start using Pace as an effective tool as a speaker:

1. Record your next speech, and get it transcribed. Transcribers are plentiful at about $50/hr on the web, and often, you can even find a teenager to do it for half the price (pick wisely, so you don't end up with half the transcript!). Figure your words per minute from the transcription so you have your baseline speed to consider as you plan your pacing.

2. Once you have the script, listen to the recording, then mark where your pace speeds up and slows down. Do the pace changes make sense? Do they add to the effectiveness of your speech? Are you even aware that your speed is changing - that is, are you intentional in your change of pace?

3. Listen to other speakers that are similar to you in topic and target audience. You Tube offers a wealth of examples. Compare your rate to theirs. Many of the most successful professional speakers speak at a much faster pace than you would expect.

4. Break your speech transcript into five parts - Conversational, Storytelling, Big Ideas, Transitions, and Calls to Action. Some of these may intermingle, such as the climax of your Story being a Big Idea. This can be a helpful exercise in general, even beyond planning your pacing.

With your speech transcript broken down, listen again to hear what your pace is during each segment. If your pace is the same throughout your speech, your audience isn't going to be as engaged as they could be. If your pace is at its slowest during the conversational and storytelling parts of your speech, your audience will likely start to wander.

By speeding up your pace during the conversational parts of your speech, you keep the audience's attention without losing comprehension, unless you really start speeding along. When people don't have to work hard to understand you, you are able to speed up without penalty.

Speeding up during your storytelling will add excitement and intensity, and again keep your audience interested. Speaking at higher speeds allows you to 'set up' your audience for your slower moments - when you get to the big idea you want them to ponder, when you paint a somber or painful emotion, and when you give your call to action.

There are times when its appropriate to speed up when painting emotions or expressing your call to action. It depends on what emotions you are hoping to evoke, who your audience is, and the occasion. The more excitement you want to evoke in a moment, the more speaking at a faster pace, can help the audience feel the emotion with the vigor you intend.

Pacing is going to be different for each speaker, and each of you needs to determine what is going to work for you. The only hard and fast rules I can offer is this: If you don't vary your pacing, and vary it in the right spots for your message and your audience, you aren't being as effective as you should be. You aren't there to read a news report with calm objectivity, and your audience isn't there to hear their High School Science Professor.

The key point to take away from this post? Be aware of your pace. Proactively examine what you are doing now, and determine how your pace can improve your ability to Speak & Deliver.Your audience will thank you!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Women Speakers need True Grit - And So Do You.

Why aren't there many successful women speakers? 

I hear this question a lot in Toastmasters, and it surprises, confuses, and saddens me, simultaneously.

First and foremost, there are plenty of successful women speakers in the world. It would take more than I care to write to list them all, but I regularly refer to speakers such as Patricia Fripp, Laura Stack and Jeanne Robertson in this blog, and they are just the tip-top of the iceberg.

What those folks are often asking is a combination of 'why aren't there many female World Champions in Toastmasters' and, if they are female, 'why am I not accepted as a speaker as easily as my male counterparts?'

The first question, about the World Championship has been covered a lot. Only one woman, LaShunda Rundles, in the last 20 years or so has broken through. Several have taken 2nd or 3rd of late, as well. Factors in this have been named by many, including:

1. Number of woman entrants in the first place is low
2. Women as a whole are not as competitive as men (I hear rumblings already from competitive women around the globe reading this)
3. Women aren't as confident in their speaking styles
4. Women who are too confident in their speaking appear, let just say,
in a negative light
5. Judging in Toastmasters is often biased towards men
6. Audiences in general would rather hear a male speaker than a woman speaker
7. Women speakers often seem too emotional/not emotional enough
8. Women speakers aren't loud enough to be heard

I have heard all of these - but I only subscribe to the first as the most likely, with others all being subjective based on the speaker, judge, or audience member.

What I come across most often, which crosses boundaries amongst women in all settings, (and men as well), is self-confidence. Now it gets a bit touchy here. 1950's wisdom says men are more confident than women. But I haven't found that to be true. It's more situational than that.

The type of occasion and the experience base of the individual man or woman have more to do with self-confidence at any given time than gender.

What LaShunda had in 2008, and what all successful speakers have, regardless of gender, is True Grit.

If you've seen the newer version of the movie, Mattie Ross, as played by Hailee Steinfeld, shows True Grit in its many forms. She is both confident and competent in her dealings in a man's world, without ever taking on a spirit of, for lack of a better word 'bitchiness' - a word which I've often heard women complain they are concerned with appearing as by becoming more confident in public speaking.

She is also willing to be appropriately afraid, mournful, caring, motherly, and vulnerable as the situation calls for it, without ever letting go of her strengths.

You don't need to see the movie to understand the key to Mattie's success, and unlock your own doors. Mattie's success lies in what comes before self-confidence - and that is a true acceptance of who she is and what she is about. She knows she's different - educated, bold, capable - and knows her mission - finding her father's killer. And she accepts this, embraces it to a point that it is not acting above or beyond her station, she is simply being her. 

That's what LaShunda and Patricia and Laura and Jeanne, and all the successful women speakers, I hear do as well. They are their true selves on stage. They use humor and bold gestures and strong facial expressions and direct voice tones because that is who they are, who they have trained themselves to be, and they are comfortable in those skins. They show the True Grit of Mattie Ross.

Where others fail is in simply acting the part. Painting on what the perceive to be what the audience wants to hear and the way they want to hear it - often working harder to imitate male speakers - instead of bringing out what they already possess onto the platform.

True Grit, of course, applies regardless of gender, as does the concept of accepting oneself to be effective on stage. Its time to stop pretending. The audience would rather hear a bad speaking version of your real self than an actor or actress trying to fake them out on stage.

To truly Speak & Deliver, you need to be you - the comfortable, authentic you that you recognize in the mirror every day, and that those around you see both on and off the stage. Find your True Grit, and you will find yourself as a speaker that isn't perceived by gender, but by the character of your content.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Toastmasters Wednesday: Carnivorous Butterflies

One of the best parts of being in Toastmasters is watching people come in who are there to experience what Toastmasters does best - the opportunity to get in front of a supportive audience for the first time with the goal of improvement.

Tuesday night I listened to one of our newest members give her Icebreaker speech. Reading speedily from a stack of tightly-filled 3x5 cards, he gave us humor, stories of her youth, opinions about her place in the world, and a statement I loved:

"I don't mind having butterflies when I speak, I'm just afraid they're going to eat me!"

We can talk about getting them to "fly in formation" all we want - but some people need them to be de-fanged first.

Even in the most supportive environment, self-expectations of ourselves as speakers can be higher than they need to be. As beginners, we may be as equally afraid of being pitied as laughed at. Even as our confidence grows we can fear people's inner judgments, silent ridicule, and covert dismissal. After all, who knows what's happening behind those eyes in the audience.

Luckily, Toastmasters takes it a step further, allowing the audience to give verbal and written feedback. The amount varies by the club and its traditions, but all clubs offer some measure of two-way communication between speaker and audience.

The evaluator last night was an experienced speaker and Toastmaster, and provided just the right tone in offering a healthy dose of praise peppered with helpful ideas for next time. Our club also provides half-sheet evaluations for each member to fill out and give to the speaker. By the end of the meeting, our first-time speaker had at least 10 evaluations in front of her to go along with the verbal evaluation.

I read people ripping apart the Toastmasters program often on other blogs, and sometimes I have a few choice thoughts myself. But at the end of the day, it's a terrific organization, which allows individuals to grow at their own pace. It opens up new roads to new destinations for most any new member. All members would be well-served to consider it not a destination in and of itself, but a great vehicle to get to a new one.

Join a club and start learning to Speak & Deliver. After nearly 11 and a half years with the organization, I'm happy to say I've never seen anyone eaten by butterflies.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolve to Speak...& Deliver in 2011

Over in my Champion of Choice blog today, I mentioned I wasn't going to share a list of goals for the year. I'm going to deviate a bit for the sake of this blogpost, because, well, I want to.

Speaking in 2010 took a very different turn for me. Instead of competing at the Region and World Championship levels in the Toastmasters' International Speech Contest for 5-7 minutes, I was on stage for an hour at a shot in such high-profile spots as Bemidji, Minnesota, Grand Island, Nebraska, and Mitchell, South Dakota, for a seminar job I toiled in for 9 long months.

I still spoke for Toastmasters clubs along the way, either as a guest speaker or just volunteering for table topics or evaluator in clubs in all the states I spoke in, as well as St. Paul's Club in London, England.

I joined SpeakEasy Toastmasters in Arvada, CO, and as mentioned in an earlier post, haven't been there as often as I'd like.

The final result of 2010 for me, speaking-wise, is that while I spoke more than I ever have before in a year (getting that valuable stage time), I spoke less about what I WANTED to speak about then ever before as well. That - above all else - will change in 2011.

So here's my list of Speaking/Coaching Goals for 2011:

1. Write my definitive keynote - and start giving it anywhere someone will listen.

2. Join the National Speaker's Association

3. Attend Toastmasters regularly - join an Advanced Club - and never give a speech that isn't lending itself to my ultimate goals of speaking.

4. Coach/Mentor more speakers in 2011 than I have over the last 5 years combined.

5. Use video, for speeches, marketing, and speaking tips on my blogs and websites.

6. Create audio products out of my speeches and coaching.

7. Compete in the International Speech Contest

8. Market & Network myself to a higher degree than ever before - this one is for all of us - nobody will hear or be helped by your message if they don't know who you are and where they can find you! 

These goals are not reliant on Toastmasters, though TM can certainly be a vehicle for me this year to accomplish more of my professional goals. I'm going to use as many options as are available to me, and squeeze every ounce of value I can out of them, even as I stay true to my purpose this year - speaking to encourage the world to Live Their Self-Defined Success.

What goals will you make for yourself this year? Are they what you WANT to do, or what you THINK you HAVE to do? Are they financially-based, or client-based? Are they oriented to YOUR goals, or the goals of others?

I cannot declare 2011 the years of the speaker, I suppose - but YOU can declare for yourself that it will be the year you Speak...& Deliver!


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