Last night was my Toastmasters club meeting. I have been a member of the Clackamas Stepping Stones for more than 20 years. In fact, my time in business is only a couple of months longer than my membership in Toastmasters.
I can state with total confidence that without the skills I learned in my TM club, I would not still be in business. It is one of the two best investments I ever made in my business and it is still a top investment.
You might recall from an earlier post that I did not start my business, it started itself. I was a totally shy person – never spoke unless spoken to, didn’t make eye contact with people and never shared my opinion. But the business was going and I needed to learn how to market it.
At my first NAPO conference, hoping to learn what kind or flyer or ad would work, I learned instead that public speaking was the route. Why? Because professional organizing was a brand new industry. People read ads when they are looking for something. If they don’t know to look for organizing help it would just be throwing money down a hole.
Yikes! That was not the answer I wanted to hear but it was the one I received. I returned and spent a couple of months trying to decide which was worse, trusting another employer with my future or learning how to speak in public.
Probably like most of you reading this, your vision of public speaking is that of a Tony Robbins or an equally charismatic, bigger than life personality. It was mine. But, when I visited this club, I saw perfectly ordinary people speaking about ordinary, every day things. My immediate thought was – “If that is public speaking, I can do that.” My knees were literally knocking as I gave my first speech – I had always thought that was just a figure of speech – but I made it though and I have never looked back.
I went back to the NAPO conference the next year and presented a workshop.
I did something I was afraid to do and in the process found a whole other side of myself . I found my voice. It improved all my relationships because I was less a passive listener and more a participant. It keeps me in an uplifting environment because every week, every person in the room is there to conquer a fear or improve a skill – itself a positive mindset – and we are all helping each other in working towards our individual goals. It gave me a new marketing tool and revenue stream that is now expanding into webinars.
Is there something you are afraid to do? What if you did it anyway and you found treasure on the other side?