Archive for April 11, 2010

Challenges of Speaking

I spent the next year getting to as many Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis groups I could find. It usually mean two or three every week. My two presentations were “Incubators Are Not For Chickens” and “Mixing It UP!”

But I found little satisfaction in talking to groups who didn’t take action. Most of the service organization members were satisfied with the status quo of their businesses and didn’t seem to want to make the time to help others. It could have been because of a lack time or maybe they didn’t realize what they could do and how much of a difference it would have made for a start up company to have a mentor help guide them.

Then one day I was invited to talk with a group called Experience Unlimited. The members were laid off from corporate jobs and typically in mid to upper level management.

Since I had personally been laid off in 1985 from a sales position after 8 1/2 years of dedicating myself to the position, I could relate all too well to the group members.

I put a new presentation together and called it “Create Your Own Reality – The Bad News is You Have No Job, The Good News is You can do Anything You Want!

It was well received, even though I was very nervous speaking to upper management individuals and acting like I had something special to offer them. Then one day after another year of speaking at two or three outplacement facilities every month, a Japanese man standing on the side lines waited until everyone else had left.

He bowed slightly and said “That was better than going to church, thank you.” and then turned and walked away.

After all the challenges and all the difficulties of trying to perfect my presentations, that one statement was the one best comment that changed my impression of public speaking forever.

Speaking: How I got started

I was very fortunate, after dragging my feet for a year, I had a mentor, Ed Thorpe, who took me to a Lion’s Club meeting and just before we finished eating our lunch he leaned over and told me I was their speaker for the day! Gulp!

Well, in a sense he did warn me. For two years he kept telling me I needed to get over my fear of speaking. But I had a great excuse! I grew up stuttering and I knew without a doubt in my mind, I would stutter the very first time I stood up in front of an audience, they would all laugh and I’d be mortified and would have to go home and crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head never to be heard from again.

But, rather than embarrass Ed, I got up, talked for 20 minutes, although I’ve never remembered what I said. I got through it and not one person laughed at me. Now everyone should have a mentor like Ed. He picked me up every month and took me to various service organizations. The about a year after my first speaking engagement a young woman approached me to tell me that she had heard me speak six months prior at her Rotary club. She went oh to tell me what I had said saved her from loosing her business and having to return to a job.

In most situations, that wouldn’t be so bad, except she had three children under the age of ten and by the time she paid for day care and other services to take care of her children, there would have been nothing left over from any job she could qualify for. Besides, being available for her children was why she had then in the first place.

What I had said in my prepared presentation was to explain the simple logic of making her business be accountable. How much was the cost of business and how profitable was it? I explained how to use a term I had later trademarked, Power Partners. I explained how they could become her sales team and she could pay then a commission for referring her business. I also talked about farming out the tasks that are time consuming and only focus on the money generating activities.

In six months she went from loosing $3,000 a month in her start up phase to a $6,000/month profit.

Can you imagine how that effected me? Well, I can tell you it was what hooked me on being a speaker. I realized that even though I thought my knowledge was common everyday practice for entrepreneurs, some people might have heard it, but had never put it into practice,.

Ed never had to book me as a speaker again. I was always one step ahead of him.