When I was about 18, I started giving short speeches to raise awareness of youth homelessness.
For the next eight years or so I occasionally spoke at program and service launches, and facilitated workshops in Brisbane, Australia.
My subject matters expanded to a number of topics.
I also shared info about being transgender – when I experienced Gender Dysphoria, co-facilitating community consultations for a festival, and leading introductory courses for a personal development company.
I ended up designing and running my own workshops on branding and community event management.
One of my on-again off-again projects is reworking a short guide to public speaking. I will be publishing it on Amazon’s Kindle store after I’ve gotten back in front of people.
Public Speaking Training
I did a seminar leader’s training course in 2004-2005. It involved practicing out loud, in a mirror, in a group and onstage.
I loved the public speaking practice and training. Not so much the sales conversations for other courses that I had to have.
I practiced important stage skills, like living in the present, focusing on what I intend to communicate, and making eye contact with one person at a time. There were many other skills of course, as the training went over a year.
My head coach, Shelly Britton, had some kind words about me, “That was the best introduction I’ve seen anyone do”.
One time, after being in front of a hundred people, the course leader, Manal Burel, said something like “Where have you been hiding? I’ve never seen anyone deliver that as clearly and powerfully as you”
I attended a couple of Toastmasters meetings a year ago. I was pleased to see that my skills were still there, if a little rusty.
Public Speaking: Short Speeches
At first, when starting out as a youth, I would usually ‘wing it’, making up what to say on the spot.
It took a few speeches until I realised that this left me feeling lost and had me babbling on stage.
I would come away from those lightning talks, thinking for days about important things that I should have said.
Now I know better and have some speeches drafted for future talks.
Public Speaking: Workshops
I love planning workshops. I’ve written at least six workshop plans. The most recent one I held was a short one on writing poetry.
I love deciding how many hours and weeks my workshops can go for. I love brainstorming and choosing themes and subjects. I love writing a Workshop Plan – its timelines and activities.
I love passing on knowlege to others.
I am not good at selling seats at my workshops in person.
I know how to promote and advertise online. When it comes to having a conversation with someone and asking if they’d like to go, I recoil in horror.
I’ve planned a 6 week workshop series for writing poetry and creating a poetry collection for a local community group.
However I shudder at the thought of personally inviting people. I always have. I put up a notice with people to put their names down to show interest. Five people have responded, which is lovely.
Notes on Sales Conversations
When I was involved in a self development company, I invited a lot of people to their seminars. At least sixty, which I know because I kept notes!
It feels quite uncomfortable now, to invite people to workshops I’ve planned.
The reasons I could talk to so many people and invite them to personal delelopment seminars was because I felt
a) That I had to,
b) that I was contributing to the well being of society. This large concern could sometimes over ride my smaller concerns.
I was making the best of a bad situation, and created and recreated feelings of feeling happy. I know now to not start a sales conversation unless it feels natural.
Over the years I learned that in a sales conversation, when my head gets busy and I am forcing myself to speak, to give up, change the subject, or walk away.
Public Speaking Lessons Learned
I learned long ago to draft a speech beforehand and to rewrite it at least once.
I really like looking for themes and patterns, and crafting personal stories.
Go on, draft that speech a few weeks before hand.
Revise (edit) your speech draft. I also like this bit. The process of honing in on particular subject matters leaves you feeling a sense of intentionality. Your strength of being articulate really shines through at this stage.
I’m someone who daydreams and likes to imagine doing the speech multiple times. I get lost in imagining multiple audience reactions and insightful conversations afterhand. Imagining being a valued is fun as well.
I learned at one event with 200 people in the crowd, that it is perfectly in my rights and sense of dignity to request the audience to stop talking over the top of me. They listened to me after that. In fact, the crowd were so silent that all I could hear were cars passing by.
After all, a speech isn’t a BBQ amongst friends and the listeners should know it.
Open for Business
I am looking forward to re-entering the public speaking arena. I’m available to talk in Brisbane, Australia about:
Autistic Burn Out
Autism and Homelessness
Autism and Gender Dysphoria
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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