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 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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