I received an email this morning from a colleague I admire asking advice about speaking. It triggered my radar noting that this request for information about speaking comes my way weekly.

So, I’m going to share with you what I shared with her. Most people who approach me to find out the best way to get into speaking (whether professionally or otherwise) have a great story to tell. That’s a perfect beginning.

The two elements required to get in front of an audience are:

1. Get your story into shape for sharing it.
2. Find an audience.

We’ll talk about getting paid another time.

The best way I know to get your story audience-ready is to join Toastmasters and sign up for the Icebreaker speech: the first manual presentation where you introduce yourself to this friendly group of strangers. I’ve always maintained that if you can captivate and amuse this disparate gathering of men and women of all ages and backgrounds, you’ve got a good chance for success.

This is a two-for-one situation, because practicing in front of the Toastmasters audience gives you a receptive crowd and a deadline to begin. When you’re planning to move into any new arena, you need a forcing mechanism. The ongoing meetings (usually every two weeks) of your local Toastmasters club will give you the opportunity not only to get started, but to commit to building your repertoire of topics and talks.

That’s my advice. Go to Toastmasters, work through their manual, and call me in the morning after you’ve completed this assignment.

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