Archive for the ‘Speaking’ Category

Mike O’Donnell Brainstorms His Couch Surfing Across America Trip

Posted on June 24th, 2013 in Couch Surfing, Goal Setting, My Story, Self Improvement, Speaking | No Comments »

When I studied abroad in Ireland in my junior year of college, I remember hearing a story of someone that a friend of mine knew who couch surfed their way through Africa. The idea of couch surfing instantly took hold of me and I wanted to couch surf through Ireland. For whatever reason, I never took the trip. The idea of couch surfing scares the shit out of a ton of people and admittedly it is a little scary for me too. I’m guessing nobody wanted to go with me so I bagged it.

I considered couch surfing while I was living in Montreal. My lease was up and I had less than 5 days left to find a new apartment for 2 months. I set up my profile and everything, but found a new apartment with 2 days to spare. Sweet deal too because I lived with a 28 year old girl named Yseult with huge tits. She had just returned from living and scuba diving off the coast of Portugal for 6 years. But I digress…

The point is, I never couch surfed and I want to do it really bad! For the uninformed, check this out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couch_Surfing#Conception

Basically, you set up a profile online and then people allow you to sleep on their couch for a few nights while you are traveling. It’s free accommodation and you meet some really interesting people. The idea of sleeping on a strangers couch in their house is obviously something that scares a lot of people and has to be really weird at first. Especially if you stay with a creeper. However, the online community of couch surfers vouch for each other so you know if people are cool or not. Still risky, but fuck it. It’s all about the experience. I can fend for myself.

Right now I am in the process of streamlining Hyacinth Marketing. My billing is automated and I rarely meet with clients anymore. Besides word of mouth, I’ve actually stopped all prospecting and marketing of my business and only do phone calls and skype chats with clients. The Unlimit3d website is set to start in about 2 weeks, so that should provide ample income for that business to survive in addition to my clients I already have on a yearly contract. Cave Tools is all online and I can work that business from anywhere with an internet connection. My biggest problem is going to be with Taxes. I have been getting fucked over and over again for almost a year now with late tax payments and missing forms. I am inept when it comes to accounting and getting my taxes in order. I used to think it was my accountants fault, but he always has himself covered and every time there’s a problem it turns out it was my fault. God Damn IRS!

My solution I am thinking of now for my taxes is to set up an Earth Class Mail account so all my mail is pdf’d and sent to me via email. I can send checks from my bank and pay my accountant more to have him send in my forms instead of me keep trying to do it myself and somehow messing up.

My original idea was to couch surf out to Texas and hang out with my friend Jordan. Take about 2 months or less and weave across the U.S and stay at friends places along the way and some strangers in between. I have friends in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Atlanta, Colorado, Minnesota, and a bunch in Texas so it would be a cool trip. Cashing in on some nice Hospitality and working out of Starbucks along the way.

During my 7 hour car ride home from Montreal 2 weeks ago, I expanded the shit out of this idea. Back when I was studying abroad in Ireland again, I started writing a book. I wanted to make a study abroad guide for Ireland with all the best restaurants and things to do and avoid. The idea of becoming an author has always been really cool to me and it brings huge credibility to your name. I wrote about 30 pages of the book while I was over there and then never followed up. I guess the Guinness got the better side of me 😉

The idea of writing a book was replanted in my mind in 2011 when I was in San Antonio and listened to Bill Glazer speak at the Local Mobile and Social Media Summit. I can at least say that I took action from his speech and followed his other big piece of advice when I joined Toastmasters in Montreal. The book part however never took hold and to be honest, sitting down to write is a pain in the ass. Unless I’m writing about personal experiences like I do on this blog because then it just flows and I can bang out over 1,000 words in a half hour.

Back to my idea…

My plan now is to leave the first week of September for at least 3 months and make my way out to California and back. Maybe even stop in Vancouver to see Justin and Dreama and hang out there because I hear it is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I purchased the domain http://CouchSurfingAmerica.com and I am going to blog about my entire experience every day along the way. Break it up into goals before I leave, goals along the way (launch a new product on the road ;), talk about who I stay with, the crazy experiences I encounter, what to pack, etc.  I could do a bunch of press releases and promote the thing so I have followers the entire way on my blog. Maybe even have a form so people can put me up for a night or contact me where ever I am. I also want to have my graphic designer create a cool map with my path tracked along it. When and if I return, I will hire a ghostwriter to take my entire blog and turn it into a book. I can then leverage my network and get consulting form someone who has done a hardback book launch and see what I can do. Maybe travel and do some speeches about my experience, who knows. The blog is also going to be no holds barred. Everything will be documented, including interactions with girls and anything else that happens. Going RAW

Leading up to my trip, I plan on taking a bunch of mini trips like I did in Montreal for a week. Maybe go to New York or D.C for a few days each and work the whole time. I don’t want to get stuck in the rut of going out and partying every night along the way. Just casual traveling and working like nothing changed.

On a side note, I message my Mexican friend Argelia the other day on Facebook. I met her while I was in Punta Cana on family vacation a year and a half ago and we became “friends.” She still messages me every now and then so I figured what the hell, why not. She said she would fly out to Texas and hang out for a week while I’m there. I think she’s 30 now and last I spoke she was still single and was all about the idea of hanging out again. I’m sure she’ll make a nice entry on my no holds barred blog haha

Predictably Irrational by Mike O’Donnell

Posted on April 7th, 2013 in Psychology, Self Improvement, Speaking, Toastmasters | No Comments »

This was my 5th speech in the competent communicator manual for toastmasters and the speech objective was “Your Body Speaks.” My two big improvement goals for this speech were to incorporate more hand gestures and to work on being a more dynamic speaker. Normally I memorize my speeches almost word for word. This is great because I can deliver an 800 word speech exactly how I wrote it without missing anything. The problem however is that if I stumble over 1 word, it completely throws me off. This is exactly what happened to me in my Enshrined in History speech. Instead of memorizing word for word this time, I focused on memorizing the structure of my speech and the transitions. That way I could free flow through each paragraph as I went along.

Another thing that I did differently this time was that I wrote in hand gestures into my script. This way I could practice linking pre thought out hand gestures with the different parts of the speech. Of course this is the opposite of being dynamic, but I think it really helped because it made me focus on how I am connecting with the audience.

Feedback and things to work on:

  1. Body movement: I tended to pivot and shift my weight from side to side. I need to either take a strong stance up by the podium or walk around and engage the audience.
  2. Gestures: Even though I specifically worked on incorporating hand gestures, my feedback was that they seemed to be too repetitive and I could have been more animated and dramatic with them.

 

 

Predictably Irrational by Mike O’Donnell

 

According to some researchers, we make well over a thousand decisions every day. Well, since you’re making so many decisions each day, has any of you ever stopped to wonder why you make the decisions you make? When asked, most people would say “because it was the best decision to make.” In other words, they considered their options and then made the most rational decision. (raise each hand and choose  winner) However, as Dan Ariely points out in his book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” many of the decisions we make are actually irrational. To put this in simpler terms, Mr. Ariely believes that he can predict when you will make a decision that completely flies in the face of common sense! (hand waves across face dramatically)

Now, when I read this for the first time, I was thinking to myself, “Pretty bold claim there Dan, but I’m not buying it” (shake head and wave hand). Just as many of you are probably thinking, “He may be able to predict the ‘Average’ person’s decisions, but let’s get real here, we’re way smarter than the ‘Average’ person. I mean, we’re Toastmasters, right?” (Quotes | hands apart and thumbs out) Well, it turns out that Mr. Ariely has backed up his argument with a ton of interesting research and I’d like to share one of his experiments with you tonight.

In this experiment, Mr. Ariely set up a table with a sign that read, “One chocolate per customer.” (make the number 1 with your finger) When potential customers stepped closer to the table, they noticed that he was selling two types of chocolates. The first was a high quality truffle from Lindt priced at only 15 cents (raise left hand) while the second was your every day Hershey’s Kiss priced at 1 cent. (raise right hand). After a little while, Mr. Ariely looked at the sales statistics and was not surprised to learn that most of the customers acted with a good deal of rationality. About 73% chose the high quality truffle while only 27% chose the Hershey’s Kiss. (left hand goes higher)

In his next experiment, Mr. Ariely lowered the price of each chocolate by a mere 1 penny (squeeze fingers) making the price of the truffle 14 cents and the Hershey Kiss Free. Now according to all rational logic, everything should have stayed the same. The truffle was still the higher quality chocolate and since nothing changed in relative terms, the response to the price reduction should have been the same. However, when they looked at the sales statistics, they noticed that the Hershey Kiss became the favorite of 69% of customers (raise right hand) while the truffle was only chosen by 31% of people. (lower left hand) The presence of Free actually led people to make an irrational decision.

So, what is it about Free that’s so enticing? Why do we have an irrational urge to jump for a Free item, even when it’s not what we really want? The best analogy I can give for this is like when we go to a career fair. Every table we go to has something free to give us to add to our goody bag and the next thing we know, we have this big bag (illustrate big bag)  of free pens and flash drives and all this stuff that we’re most likely just going to throw out when we get home. If these companies charged just 1 cent for each pen and flash drive, how many do you think you would come home with? After repeating multiple variations of his experiment, Mr. Ariely started asking himself the same questions. And the conclusion that he came to was that every transaction has an upside and a downside. And when something is Free, it completely removes our fear of loss. This gives us such an emotional charge (clench both fists) that we perceive the item to be much more valuable than it really is.

So like I said in the beginning of this speech, we make over 1,000 decisions every day. Now that you’re aware that the fear of loss has a strong influence over your decision making, how will you react? Will you go on making the same decisions that you always made or will you use this information to become a rational human being?

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    Never Sell Again by Mike O’Donnell

    Posted on March 21st, 2013 in Business Development, Speaking, Toastmasters, Training, Video | No Comments »

    I can’t believe I forgot to post this speech up on here. I performed this speech back on January 29th and in my opinion, I knocked it out of the park! The next morning I woke up at 5:30am because I gave this speech again to a group of local business owners over breakfast. I elaborated much more on the strategies in the breakfast meeting and turned it into more of a workshop. This speech helped me position myself as an expert marketer in front of that group of business owners and to date I have gained over $4,000 in revenue from the people that heard the speech!

     

     

     

    Never “Sell” Again by Michael O’Donnell

    Today we’re going to talk about a topic that the majority of people absolutely hate to do…Sales. In the next 6 minutes, I’m going to teach you the 3 main things that you need to do to close any sale and how you can leverage existing media channels to decrease and virtually eliminate the need to do a hard sale ever again. And the best part is that I’m not even going to charge you the 3 to 5 thousand dollars that you would normally have to pay to learn these secrets from a sales training course. Does that sound good to everybody? Let me ask that again, does that sound good to everybody?

    Great! So first we need to analyze the core factors at the heart of every successful sales transaction. And the first core factor is trust. We all know that the sales profession has some pretty horrible stigmas attached to it. Most notably, we have the sleazy salesman that promises you the world and will do anything to get the sale no matter what the cost. So right off the bat, you need to find a way to build trust. This is why relationships and referrals are so important for businesses to grow.

    The second core factor is credibility. Once you trust somebody, the next thing you want to know is whether they can actually do what they are promising you they will do. This is why businesses are always trying to collect testimonials and case studies because they prove that the business is credible.

    So now we trust the person and we believe they can deliver results, but then we ask ourselves the next question which is why should I choose this company over one of their competitors? This is where the 3rd core factor comes into play, which is authority. People want to deal with businesses that are experts at what they do. In the business world, authority is normally represented in the value of the company’s brand.

    Now that we understand the core factors behind a successful sale, we need to find a way to leverage existing media channels to create trust, credibility, and authority. One of the best, proven strategies to do this is to leverage a series of 30 second to 1 minute long videos on YouTube. The fact that these videos are so short is super important to your success because people want the answers to their questions now. Right?

    The first 10 videos are going to answer the most frequently asked questions in your business. These are the questions that every customer wants to know before they purchase your products or services. One way or another they’re going to get this information before they make a purchasing decision, so it might as well come from you.

    The next 10 videos are going to answer the should ask questions in your business. These are important things that differentiate you from your competitors and tap into the knowledge, skills, and experience you have acquired over your career.

    By packaging this information and presenting it to your potential customers in the right way, you should decrease or virtually eliminate the need to “Sell” them ever again. Once you have this information, there are tons of complex marketing strategies that you can utilize to make sure the maximum number of people are exposed to your information. But even you stop right here and all you ever do is create these videos and make them available to your potential customers, you’re going to see phenomenal results!

    So let’s recap why this system works so well.

    You start off and you initiate the relationship by providing them with valuable information for free. By giving value, you immediately build trust. You’re no longer this sleazy salesman that’s going to run away with their money.  Then you go on to answer all of their main questions that they have and you organized it in a way that they can quickly and easily find the answers without wasting their time. This proves that you know what you’re talking about, which gives you your credibility. Finally, the last 10 videos position you as the absolute best choice because you strategically differentiated yourself from your competitors. You are now an authority on the subject matter. At this point, you have provided so much value to this potential customer and have built trust, credibility, and authority without ever having to pressure them to buy from you.

    So there you have it, the secret sales system that teaches you how to “not sell” to potential customers.

    *The content for this speech was based off of Mike Koenigs 10x10x4 video marketing strategy

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      Enshrined in History by Michael O’Donnell

      Posted on December 20th, 2012 in Coaching, My Story, Speaking, Toastmasters | No Comments »

      This was my 3rd Toastmasters speech overall and my first speech at the Doylestown Toastmasters club. I think I did very well with this speech, but my delivery was a slight step back from my 2nd speech which, was Winning the Battle for Attention. This is because I forgot my words for about 10 seconds towards the end of the speech. Normally I am a fanatic about memorizing my entire speech and this time I was not as well prepared. Luckily for me, I did eventually remember the words and I didn’t stutter or use crutch words during the silence. One of my evaluators actually said they loved the long silence because they were on the edge of their seat and the suspense was killing them. I guess it’s all in how you look at the situation. My other main critique was that I stood in the middle of the U and a bunch of people saw my back the entire time. This is something I have done with every speech so far and I really need to work on it. I think I just get so caught up in my speech that I like to move around and I always forget about the people in the back. This is something I am making a pledge to myself to correct for my 4th speech.

      Enshrined in History by Michael O’Donnell

       

      Can I get a show of hands, how many people played competitive sports at one point in their life? So we have a pretty good amount of athletes in the room.  And one of the things that all of us athletes have in common is that we are competitive people. It’s that competitiveness that drives us to keep getting better and better so we can reach our ultimate goal, which for many is to win a championship. Now please raise your hands in the air again if you have won a championship? Obviously, when you look around, there are a lot less hands in the air. That’s because championships are elusive, they are reserved for the very elite few.

      Now I’ve been playing sports year round for my entire life and I only came close to winning a major championship once. My senior year of college we took 3rd place in the country for club lacrosse. And as great of an achievement as that was, we still couldn’t call ourselves champions. After graduation, I figured that would be my last chance to ever win a championship, that is until I set off for a 9 hour car ride earlier this month to Peterborough, Ontario for the Canadian national lacrosse playoffs.

      You see, while I was working in Montreal this summer, I also had the opportunity to become the assistant coach of the McGill University varsity lacrosse team.  As a young guy with very little coaching experience, you could argue that the stars literally aligned for me to get this kind of an opportunity. You could also argue that I was in over my head seeing how I was filling the assistant coaching position that was previously held by one of the all time leading scorers in Cornell history, Sean Steinwald. With just me, the head coach, and the captains to manage the team, we all had a lot of responsibility on our hands.

      I remember showing up to the first week of tryouts and thinking, what did I get myself into? Most of these guys were better lacrosse players than I was and on top of that, I was only a few years older than them. How would I ever get them to listen to me?  For the first couple of weeks, I felt like I struggled to find my groove, but I continued to press on and eventually I gained their respect.

      With each game we won we became closer and closer as a team and by mid season we were tied for 1st place in the Eastern Conference.  As the team was solidifying their playoff run, my personal life took a slightly different path and I needed to move back to the United States. I remember breaking the news to the team during one of our frosty 6am practices. With just 5 games left in the season, I was sad to say goodbye to the team, but I promised them that if they made the playoffs I would be back to help coach them to victory.

      In my absence, Steinwald was able to return to the team full time and help them go 4-1 in the final 5 games of the season to clinch 1st place in the Eastern Conference. We were headed to the playoffs, but even though we were the top seed in our conference, the road to the championship was not going to be easy.

      In the semi finals we drew Guelph University from the Western conference. The 3 of us coaches stayed up late the night before planning out our strategy for the game. Our defense would have their hands full as Guelph had the highest scoring offense in the country. On game day we found ourselves up by 1 at half and everything was going as planned. But we came out sluggish in the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th and with less than 2 minutes to go we found ourselves down by 2 goals with Guelph killing the clock. The sidelines were quite as we watched the seconds tick away. And then all of the sudden, our defensive mid fielder Ozzie Long picked off a pass, ran down the field and passed to Alex Rohrbach who put the ball in the net. With no time to spare, we won the faceoff and scored again with only a minute left on the clock. You could feel the energy rising as everyone thinking comeback, comeback. And that’s exactly what happened, we won the final faceoff and came down to score the game winning goal with only 4 seconds left on the clock. This was one of the craziest comebacks I have ever seen in my life, but we couldn’t celebrate for long because we had to start preparing for the championship game the next day.

      As luck would have it, we matched up against Western University who had the #1 defense in the country. The exact opposite type of opponent than the one we just played. Another night of scouting and strategizing and by the fourth quarter we found ourselves in the exact same situation as the day before. It was 6-4 with under 1 minute left to play, but this time we were winning and there was no way this defensive team was going to be able to muster the offense to come back. That is until someone screamed from our bench and we got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. With the man advantage Western somehow managed to score 2 goals in the final 25 seconds to send it to overtime.

      With the game on the line we battled it out with Western until we got the ball with 30 seconds left in the second overtime. With time running out, our star midfielder Jishan Sharples drove from behind the net, drew the double team, rolled and scored the championship winning goal. As soon as the clock hit zero, everyone rushed onto the field and we hoisted the Baggataway Cup into the air. We were now part of the very elite few that can call themselves national champions.

      As I look back on this amazing season, I can’t help but thank head coach Tim Murdoch for giving me my chance to coach and for being the steadfast leader that the team needed, Sean Steinwald for being the offensive mastermind that led us to victory, all of the trainers that kept our team healthy, and of course all of the players who poured their heart and soul into this team and never gave up when the game was on the line. They will remember this season for the rest of their lives and they will go down in history as the 2012 Canadian national lacrosse champions.

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        Mike O’Donnell presents “Winning the Battle for Attention”

        Posted on October 1st, 2012 in Canada, Speaking, Toastmasters, Video | No Comments »

        After my first toastmasters speech I set goals for myself that my second speech would be engaging, inspiring, and spoken from the perspective of me teaching from the stage. In this speech, I think I accomplished all of those goals and also was able to use this video for sales purposes to help spread the word about our Doodle Video services. When I first shared this video on Facebook, I was hosting it on Brightcove because I wanted to test out their analytics software. In my opinion, I was expecting a little more from Brightcove in terms of data tracking, but I still think they offer a great service and could be a great up sell option for my Video Marketing packages.

         

        Critique:

        Overall, I think I knocked this speech out of the park. From a pure speaking standpoint, I memorized my entire speech, utilized pauses, never used a single crutch word, and made great eye contact, and engaged the audience. From a content standpoint, I think it was very well written, convincing, and my call to action was really strong. My favorite critique from a toastmasters member was that he felt like he was sitting in on a TED speech. From an improvement standpoint, the best advice I have been given was from Ben. In his opinion I scored an 89 on the speech and a 98 on the call to action. His 2 points for improvement were: 1.) I need to tighten my core and stand strong when I am making my points. 2.) Every time I emphasized a point I followed this pattern: bum bum beh dum. Instead, I should mix things up a little bit so it doesn’t get repetitive. I’m not sure if this makes sense in writing, but when I watch the video I can see what he is talking about.

        For the record, I won the best speech ribbon for this speech!

         

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          Mike O’Donnell Gives His First Toastmasters Speech (CC1)

          Posted on August 17th, 2012 in Canada, My Story, Speaking, Toastmasters | No Comments »

          I have been attending the McGill Toastmasters club since the end of June and because the members are so actively involved in the club, I wasn’t able to schedule my first speech until 2 weeks from now on August 28th. That is until Sunday, July 15th when I received an email at 10pm saying someone canceled their speech. With less than 48 hours until the next meeting they were looking for someone to fill in with a speech. I decided to jump on the opportunity and since I wouldn’t have time to write a speech, I figured I would just edit the article I wrote back in February that tells my “Heroes Journey” story about becoming a business owner.

          When I showed up at the toastmasters meeting, I was told that my speech had to fit the requirements of a CC1 since it was my first Toastmasters speech. It was supposed to be a 4-6 minute speech that introduced myself and told everyone a little bit about me.  Of course, my speech did not fit the requirements because I didn’t write the speech to be a speech, it was written as an article and even with extensive editing, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be 4-6 minutes long. One of the senior women in the group actually tried to say I couldn’t do my speech because I told them it was longer than 6 minutes. However, I was able to talk her into letting me speak by saying it would only be 7 minutes at most. Of course that was bull shit, but I was filling in for someone else with very short notice so she could deal with it.

          Critique:

          What I did well:

          • I memorized my entire speech by studying it in 20 minute intervals throughout the day of the speech. I probably spent about 2-2.5 hours total memorizing the speech and it was over 1,400 words! I delivered the speech almost word for word as I wrote it, so that was pretty kick ass.
          • At about 3:50 into the speech someone walks into the room and interrupts my train of thought. I quickly recovered and was able to continue with my speech unaffected
          • I spoke confidently and clearly and used very few crutch words
          • I used good body language and gestures with my hands

          What I need to work on:

          • I spoke very quickly (mostly because of the time constraints, but still something to work on)
          • I think my walking around the room was more sporadic instead of natural
          • I could have done a better job making eye contact with individual members of the crowd
          • My emotional level in the beginning of the speech was very low. It picked up as I went on. Either way, I could have been less monotone and injected more vocal variety
          • Even though my delivery flowed well, I feel as at times it sounded like I memorized the speech

          Overall Impression:

          I’m very happy with myself and I think I did an amazing job for my first speech. I did 3 speeches in college as part of my public speaking requirement, but that was almost 2 years ago. For being fresh on the scene again I am happy with my results. My next speech is coming up on August 28th and this one I am going to be writing specifically as a speech. My goals for this speech are to utilize pauses for emphasis and to engage and inspire the audience. I’m thinking of writing my speech from the perspective of me giving a seminar to a group of business owners. Since that is my goal, I might as well envision it and act as if I have already been there.

           

           

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            Michael O’Donnell Becomes a Toastmaster

            Posted on July 12th, 2012 in Canada, Goal Setting, My Story, Reflection, Speaking | No Comments »

            Once again, this post is long overdue, but now that I know my blog has an audience I will try to be more consistent in my writing. Tonight, I would like to write about my experiences with Toastmasters in the context of my overall goal of becoming a professional speaker.

            I have always enjoyed public speaking, but I never considered it as a possible career option until I heard Bill Glazer speak at the 2011Traffic and Conversions Summit in Austin, Texas. It was during Bill’s speech that I realized the immense credibility and authority you gain just by being a speaker. At this time, I had just finished signing my first client for local search marketing and was thinking of ways to strategically grow my business and get more clients. I decided that if I could do informational speeches for organizations like the chamber of commerce on subjects such as B2B marketing, SEO, Direct Response Marketing, etc. I could leverage my speaker authority to grow my business. If I gave purely informational speeches on what the businesses needed to be doing (not how to do it) then all I would need to do is sit in the back of the room and wait for listeners to approach me to ask about my services. After all, as the speaker for the night, I would be the expert. Eventually, I learned that this was the strategy that many successful speakers use to build their businesses because it reverses the selling situation from a push strategy to a pull strategy.

            I have always found myself to be a natural public speaker with the innate ability to be compelling and persuasive. However, to become a professional speaker, I would need to practice regularly to turn my raw talent into a mastered skill. Realizing this, I decided to put joining Toastmasters on my to do list. Of course, Toastmasters stayed on my list of things I would do “some day.” That is, until I got to hear James Malenchak speak at a BenPhilly meeting back in April. I attended the BEN meeting because it is a group of some of the top entrepreneurs and marketers in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York regions where they all meet to discuss the things that are working in their businesses, what isn’t working, and what they are planning to do to grow their businesses. They are also the official Philadelphia chapter for GKIC which is my primary educational source for direct mail advertising techniques. Before listening to James speak, I had already wanted to become a speaker one day and I already knew I wanted to become a Toastmaster, but I never took action on any of these goals. To this day, I don’t remember specifically what James talked about, but the important thing is that I left that day Inspired, inspired to take the necessary actions to prepare myself for my eventual speaking career.

            When I first moved to Montreal, I placed joining Toastmasters as one of my primary goals. It would allow me the dual benefit of working on my speaking skills, and networking with other business professionals. I attended weekly meetings at several Toastmaster clubs throughout the city before eventually choosing to join the McGill University chapter. McGill is Canada’s equivalent to Harvard and their Toastmasters club is the premier English speaking club in the city.

            Having been accepted as an official member now for several weeks, I am already seeing improvements in my public speaking. Every Tuesday, we meet for 2 ½ hours to work on our public speaking. The meetings are very structured and are designed to make sure that everyone speaks at each meeting. As a Toastmaster, I am challenged to take on a variety of different types of prepared speeches throughout the course of my public speaking journey. I think there are about 80 different types of speeches of varying styles and lengths that you can do. Each meeting, we get the chance to listen to and evaluate 3 different prepared speeches. What I really like about the evaluations is that everybody is there to learn, so it is a very constructive environment. My first prepared speech is scheduled for the 3rd week of August. As excited as I am to get started with my prepared speech challenges, my favorite part about each meeting is a section called Table Topics. This section of the meetings focuses on your ability to deliver a 2-3 minute impromptu speech with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The Table Topics leader randomly calls on people at the meeting and asks them a question they are not prepared for. They must then take the center of the room and answer the question in the best speech they can. I really enjoy this part of the meetings because it forces you to always be on your toes and be able to organize your thoughts very quickly.

            As I think about the path my career is taking, I’m not sure how or when my speaking skills are going to come into play. I guess a lot of it depends on the outcome of my current negotiations with Ben. Whether I use speaking to sell info products, become a business coach and consultant, or promote my marketing business, only time will tell. What I know now is that I am preparing and positioning myself to achieve a goal I have set for myself. When the time comes, I will be ready.

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