International Writers Magazine: Life and Comment
to Speak Pays Big Dividends
say that the single most common fear which people have is public
speaking. At the same time, being able to speak effectively is
the single most important business skill that you can have. Whether
you work in sales, marketing, PR, auto-mechanics, or medicine,
improving your public speaking will jumpstart your career. Being
from an Italian family, I could also say that having a good command
of English results in a lower chance of conviction and a lighter
In my case, public
speaking is allowing me to transition from being an author, to being
a TV, radio, and film personality. Since my main goal is selling books,
the exposure I get from the big media put dollars in my pocket.
We have all heard that the best things in life are free. And in my experience,
they are. Working as a martial arts and adventure author, I found that
I got the best martial arts training, which resulted in the best books
and stories, living in temples in Asia, where I was never asked to pay
a penny. The same goes for public speaking. Most people don¡¯t
know, but they can get top notch training for a few dollars a month.
Recently when I was in the USA for a seven month speaking tour, I discovered
Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching
public speaking and leadership to adults. The annual dues vary from
club to club, but for about $60 a year you can participate in their
educational program, giving a series of speeches, before a live audience.
Each speech is evaluated by trained club members, and you will get extremely
useful feedback on how to improve your technique. Clubs meet two to
four times per month, and there are thousands of clubs in the USA. If
you go on toastmasters.org you may be surprised to find there are multiple
clubs within walking distance of your home or office.
Before I joined Toastmasters I already had no fear of public speaking.
I had worked as a teacher for abut ten years and had a lifetime of sales
experience. I had already done a slue of radio interviews and a few
movies and TV shows. But the training I received from Toastmasters was
priceless, and has had a major impact on the future of my career.
As a writer, I have learned that a book is the easiest piece to write,
because I can ramble, unconcerned about limitations of length and word
count. Magazine articles are harder, because they have strict rules
about how many words can used. Newspapers are the hardest. I was once
asked to write 250 words on the life of an activist I had met living
in the jungles of northern Thailand among the tribes for thirteen years.
He was a controversial character who had been marked for death by the
Thai government, Shan State army, and Burmese warlords. How do you reduce
that story to 250 words?
The timed speeches at Toastmasters forced me to learn the same economy
with the spoken word which I have learned with the written word. Toastmasters
speeches are generally only seven minutes, with time limits strictly
enforced. Now, because of Toastmasters, when I am paid to do a 45 minute
or one hour motivational speaking engagement, I simply break it into
seven minute units in my head. Each seven minute unit is solid, concise,
In addition to attracting people who need help with their public speaking
Toastmasters also attracts sales professionals, communications teachers,
and radio and TV hosts. As a result, Toastmasters provides you with
great networking opportunities.
While I was in USA, a number of Toastmasters friends arranged paid speaking
engagements for me. One friend arrange for me to appear on a couple
of talk shows. On talk shows, you speak in tight bursts, when your time
comes. You never want to talk more than two minutes, and you don¡¯t
want to dominate other people¡¯s talk time. A talk show is
similar to a Toastmasters exercise called table topics, where members
are given a topic and required to deliver a one and a half minute speech,
with no preparation. I did about twenty or thirty radio interviews while
I was in the States. Once again, you are forced to speak in one to three
minute bursts, each of which must sound brilliant.
I met two Toastmasters members who both had their own radio show. They
taught me about new media, web radio, web TV, internet audio and video
techniques. Another Toastmasters taught me the importance of having
audio and video clips readily accessible when applying for speaking
engagements. Catherine Franz, a Toastmaster who does coaching for marketing
professionals, taught me to use a digital recorder during business meetings.
These raw audio clips can later be used to make CDs which could be sold
as part of a marketing course. They could also be transposed into pamphlets
of books which could be marketed on the internet.
Because of the press that I have received for my various adventures
throughout Asia, BBC and Discovery both asked me to write proposals
for a TV show I would be hosting, about martial arts in Asia. Because
of my Toastmaster friends, I already had audio on my website. I also
had audio and video CDs which I had recorded while giving Toastmaster
speeches. I used these audio and video clips as demos, accompanying
In the end, the major networks paid me a consulting fee, but passed
on the show. Luckily, because of the lessons I learned from Toastmasters,
I decided to hire a local film crew in Asia, and produce the show myself,
with the help of a web radio and web TV network. Now, thanks to Toastmasters,
my show, ¡°Martial Arts Odyssey will begin shooting in Cambodia
in October. It will be airing on web TV, around the world, in November.
Public speaking helps me produce products like DVDs and CDs which I
sell, at a profit. public speaking allows me to speak well on my book
tours, and radio and TV interviews. Public speaking gives me the
ability to sell my ideas to others.
Public speaking is the cornerstone of any career. Improve your public
speaking, and you will improve your income.
Checkout Antonios website http://speakingadventure.com/
Get Antonios books at amazon.com
The Monk from Brooklyn
Bikes, Boats, and Boxing Gloves
The Desert of Death on Three Wheels
© Antonio Graceffo September 2006
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