Want to be a better pianist. Practice. Want to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Want to be a better skier? Practice. Want to interview better? Practice. Best generic advice ever, don’t you think? It applies to just about any situation.
In 2013, I wanted to be a better speaker. Public speaking is a great way to create a brand presence and spread the word. I wanted to create a wonderful audience experience, so I needed to improve. How to improve? Practice.
My business partner and dear friend, Dan Toussant, suggested Toastmasters was a good, safe environment to practice public speaking. So I joined his club. Then I joined an advanced club with more intensive feedback.
It is six years and over sixty speeches and plenty of leadership roles later. All that practice added a great deal to my public speaking presence. All those speeches and leadership roles added to a big award. I recently achieved a milestone of public speaking, Distinguished Toastmaster!
More than half the members of my club have this award, so it seemed like I was chasing this group of distinguished speakers, but less than 1% of all Toastmasters achieve this milestone! I guess that practice adds up!
Why do we care about personal milestones like this? My DTM demonstrates speaking and leadership competence. I’ve received plenty of feedback through excellent evaluations. I’ve practiced many different kinds of speeches using different kinds of technology. I’ve learned how to stay composed when the technology fails you, as it often does.
I’ve learned how to draw a picture with words to draw my audience into my stories and challenge them to take action. Delivering so many speeches helped me practice using the fewest words to make the greatest impact, while minimizing filler words and stammering.
Everyone gives speeches. Whether spontaneous or planned, every day you encounter opportunities to express yourself coherently and succinctly. That is a speech!
I am proud of being recognized as a Distinguished Toastmaster. I know the practice has made me a better speaker.
Now that I have this award, what should I do with it? I added that milestone to my LinkedIn profile, of course! I want to blow my own horn just a little.
Have you achieved a milestone that is important to you? Add that milestone to your LinkedIn profile in the Licenses & Certifications section, so others can see what you have achieved! It makes a difference!