Archive for November 15, 2010

Service Organizations

I heard that service organizations were always looking for someone to speak at their meetings, so I started asking everyone I knew who was a member of a Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions, or any of the women’s groups.
My first topic was “Incubators are not for Chickens.” I talked about the cluster environments that are dedicated to start-up businesses in a specific industry. In a business cluster, several businesses share office equipment and a receptionist. Consulting services and venture capital resources are made available to ensure their success.
It was a perfect topic for service groups, for they are always looking for new methods they can become more involved in the community. Cluster environments need support from the kind of people who belong to these service groups. When I began talking about Clusters, most of the organizations had never heard of the concept. They were amazed at the level of support that is provided and the national rate of success which is attributed to companies starting in such an environment. The level of response to my talks instigated a great number of these organizations to offer their professional expertise to the Cluster clients.
Then somewhere along the tenth or twelfth time I delivered my twenty-minute “Incubator” presentation, I provoked thoughts of new businesses, who by themselves might struggle to get by financially for years. Yet in the Cluster, they achieved a 90% success ratio within the first 2 years. This success equated to their achievement of $2 million in sales and/or grew to the point of having ten employees.

I heard that service organizations were always looking for someone to speak at their meetings, so I started asking everyone I knew who was a member of a Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions, or any of the women’s groups.  My first topic was “Incubators are not for Chickens.” I talked about the cluster environments that are dedicated to start-up businesses in a specific industry. In a business cluster, several businesses share office equipment and a receptionist. Consulting services and venture capital resources are made available to ensure their success.  It was a perfect topic for service groups, for they are always looking for new methods they can become more involved in the community. Cluster environments need support from the kind of people who belong to these service groups. When I began talking about Clusters, most of the organizations had never heard of the concept. They were amazed at the level of support that is provided and the national rate of success which is attributed to companies starting in such an environment. The level of response to my talks instigated a great number of these organizations to offer their professional expertise to the Cluster clients. Then somewhere along the tenth or twelfth time I delivered my twenty-minute “Incubator” presentation, I provoked thoughts of new businesses, who by themselves might struggle to get by financially for years. Yet in the Cluster, they achieved a 90% success ratio within the first 2 years. This success equated to their achievement of $2 million in sales and/or grew to the point of having ten employees.

Fear of Speaking

The book of lists rates public speaking as what people fear the most. Death is listed as the fifth most feared.
I can easily believe that ranking. Although I now love public speaking and often get paid well to do it, I once struggled more with public speaking than nearly any other area of my business development. Realizing I had a lot of company in the fear I felt, didn’t help at all. I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get up in front of a group of people, convince them that I had something valuable to say, and speak as though I enjoyed it.
The first time I got up to speak in front of a leads group, one of my worst fears came true. The trouble began when, instead of introducing myself as “Sharyn Abbott from Uniglobe Travel,” I blurted out, “I’m Sharyn Uniglobe from Abbott Travel.” Everyone laughed, and I was miserably embarrassed. Then I realized they weren’t laughing at me (though I wasn’t yet ready to appreciate that it really was funny), they were laughing because it was truly funny. Somehow I managed to get through my presentation and when I sat back down I continued feeling embarrassed over  my mistake in my introduction. I can’t imagine that anyone else thought about it ever again, but I agonized over it for years.
It took about two years to decide that in order to build the kind of business success I wanted, I had to overcome the fear of speaking in front of other professionals. To do this, I knew I had to practice speaking in front of larger groups.