Sunday, April 01, 2007

One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did

One of my favorite bloggers is Mike Sigers of The Simplenomics Blog. I discovered a link to a nice post on The Self Help Blog that I think is a great idea. The author encourages bloggers everywhere to write a post titled "One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did" (you must leave out getting married or having kids, as that is a given for many).

I like this idea. There is a lot of negative crap on the internet, but this is I'll play!

One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did was.... join a Toastmasters club. It was about 15 years ago, and I was nervous. I did not like to speak in front of large groups, and I was always nervous that I was not prepared. I feared saying something stupid. I was terrified of what other people might think of me and the message I delivered.

Toastmasters is an organization that allows people to practice the craft of public speaking in a safe and supportive environment. I timidly attended my first meeting of the Balcones Toastmasters Club in Austin, Texas (I have since changed clubs and am now a member of the West Austin II Club).....and discovered that I was not alone in my fears. Over the next few years I improved both my abilities and my confidence in delivering presentations.

In 2002 I entered my clubs speech contest. I won. I then won at the area level, division level, and district level. I went on to take second place in the Region III contest, barely missing a chance to go to the international finals. That accomplishment put me in the top 18 Toastmasters in the world that year (nine people went to the finals, I was runner-up to one of them). That gave me confidence!

I now speak regularly to businesses, law firms, non-profits and other organizations. My career has been boosted by my speaking skills....and I owe it all to one of the smartest things I ever did....join a Toastmasters Club (and participating!!! FYI, just joining wont help!).

****NOW, if you write a blog....and you read this.....I challenge you to write a post about one of the smartest things you ever did!!! Within this there is good advice to share with the world.

Have A Great Day.



Scott said...

The smartest thing I ever did was read “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter's Guide” by Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky

I was given this book by a friend of mine for Christmas a few years ago and without a doubt it has had a profound effect on me as an HR professional and Management Consultant. Once you have experienced “The Guide” it is almost impossible to read a management report, book or article without having a little snigger about the use (or is that abuse?) of the English language.

“The Guide” considers the four traps that stop our messages from being effective:

•The Obscurity Trap - The use of meaningless statements in communications;

•The Anonymity Trap – People free corporate communications, where messages are sterile and templates replace any need for people to think about what they are saying;

•The Hard-Sell Trap - This is where most of the BS can be found. The focus is often on trying to sell what people want rather than what they need. I now call this the White Van v Porsche syndrome;

•The Tedium Trap - Corporate reports and presentations full of meaningless numbers, jargon and the ultimate sin – pointless clip art!

This book is easy to read and its insights ultimately lead me to being a strong advocate of the use of metaphor, storytelling, conversations, simulation and “stickiness” in corporate communications and personal development.

Academic and business writing has become obsessed with structure so perhaps it is little wonder that we struggle with creativity. Ultimately, I wonder what the impact of this book might be if it were part of the school curriculum?

Santosh Udupi said...

Hello Thom, One of the smartest thing I ever did is to setup my public speaking website. (I will soon post it on my site). I am also a member of the Somerset, NJ toastmasters club. I competed in division level humorous speech contest and won the second place. Toastmasters gave me inspiration to start my website.


Mike said...

Thanks Thom !

From one favorite to another, you're one of the best I've ever read at giving credit and understanding that to make a friend, you have to be a friend.

If you network like you blog, you must be one of the absolute best.

Dinner's on me if you ever get near Louisville.

Thom Singer said...

Wow, free dinner in Louisville...I wish I was going to be near there sometime soon. My favorite kind of dinner is free dinner!


Carlon Haas said...

OK, Thom...I will accept your challenge. Look out for the post on my old and new blogs. By the way...I won't be able to make it for the Bloggers get-together, which is not cool because I like doing that.

But I'll catch you at another one (I hope).

By the way, if you read problogger, you might be interested in reading about my run-in with Mr. Darren Rowse himself. It's on my new blog. (just click on my name)