Say Yes to the Speech!

So you’ve been asked to give a presentation. What do you do?

  1. Insist that you have WAY too much work and can’t fit it into your schedule
  2. Beg one of your co-workers to give it on your behalf
  3. Quit your job and run for the hills
  4. Say “yes,” and start preparing

Of course this is a trick question.  And of course the “right” answer is #4, but answers #1-3 can so often seem like the way to go. Who has the time or the space in your workload to create a presentation, the ability to deal with a fear of public speaking, or the desire to stand in front of a group of colleagues, friends, or strangers and be JUDGED?

No one.

But should that matter? Should it matter when you weigh the time, effort and possible anxiety of creating and delivering this presentation against the potential rewards? Rewards such as:

  1. A new job
  2. A new client
  3. An invitation to speak at another event
  4. The ability to speak for a fee
  5. The ability to enhance your speaking skills
  6. People remembering you – for all the right reasons

Many years ago, well before starting my business as a public speaking and presentation skills trainer and coach, I was just a Toastmasters newbie, trying to get my head around how to give a speech without fainting from utter terror. Thanks to a supportive group and some experienced members who took me under their wing, I started to come out of my shell. Enough so that 6 months into my membership,  when our Toastmasters club was asked if a few members could give a speech about public speaking to a group of professionals, I volunteered along with 3 other members.  Not because I WANTED to, not because I was masochistic, and not because I had tons of time to spare, but because I felt like it was time for me to put myself to the test and to speak outside the wonderfully supportive, friendly group of people that I was used to facing.

The day of the speech came, I was nervous, I gave the speech, and I got through it just fine. There were no job offers, no invitations to speak elsewhere, no money being thrown at me. But that day, giving that speech, everything changed, for this simple reason:

They wrote down what I said.  

It was a thrill. That may sound pretty sad to you, but it was something that I had never experienced before.  Maybe it seems a bit ego-centric, and at the time, it probably was. I just couldn’t believe that what I was saying was worthwhile enough to be written down, by a group of accomplished professionals.  It was literally at that moment that the “aha!” struck – and when I left that evening, all I could think was, “how do I do this as a career?” I had never volunteered for that opportunity, I would still be toiling away at whatever job I had that I was unsatisfied with at the time . Thankfully, the ‘powers that be’ sent me that opportunity, and taught me the value of not just saying “yes,” but saying “YES!!” when asked to speak.

It all boils down to this. You never know what can happen until you say yes. You never know who will be in your audience. You never know what the catalyst will be, or when it will strike, for your life to take a new direction.

It takes one opportunity, at one moment in time, to change your life. You won’t achieve fame and fortune every time you give a speech or presentation.  But each one will provide learnings that you can apply to make your next speaking opportunity a greater success that may, one day, become an “aha” moment for you. How could you possibly say no?

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