Article: Hooray For Public Speaking

by Leslie Anderson Ford

Have you searched for fun without guilt? That’s a silly question. Of course you have! But have you gone to extremes to find it?

I can say with confidence that an ice cream and cheesecake diet;, having a global-scale shoppingfest, a la Discover; or chanting “Viva Las Vegas,” while pumping the slot machines with the overdue rent money do not qualify as guiltless fun.

After having more fun than should be permitted in one lifetime, I chose to follow my parent’s advice–for once. I decided to redirect my attention to a more fruitful endeavor and improve my “professional marketability”. So, I joined a non-profit Toastmasters’ club, the Renaissance Speakers.

For those of you not familiar with the purpose of a Toastmasters’ club, it is to promote the furthering education, confidence and competence of its membership by helping them develop the skills to be effective public speakers.

If you think you are unusual because a faucet opens under your armpits, your face twitches, your knees quiver, you get nauseous, your voice vibrates and you acquire the I.Q. of a radish when attempting to speak in front of others, you are….not!

It was not until I started giving speeches at the Renaissance Speakers meetings that I appreciated to what lengths my body would go to gain the attention of an audience. Can anyone possibly be upstaged by their body? Mine sure tried.

But with each speech I performed, my gyrations and spasms diminished. I slowly began to rediscover my intelligence even in the face of an audience. And I began a trek of self-exploration and self-realization that has continued for the last 9 years.

As a result of persisting through the trials and tribulations of preparing and delivering speeches, my confidence, self-awareness and competence (in all aspects of my life) have grown. When you think about it, that makes sense.

I came to realize a fundamental truth. No one can stop me from accomplishing anything I want to accomplish in this life but me. And if I keep proving to myself over and over again that I can overcome the barriers I place on myself, merely by persisting in a direction I’ve chosen, I’ve got it licked! Nothing can stop me! Not even me!

That is what public speaking does. It gives you the opportunity to prove to yourself over and over again that you can succeed merely through your persistence, working with a group that has a common goal.

In my club, I found people who cheered me on and wished for my success. I found people who had a higher opinion of myself than I did and helped me see myself in a different light. I found friends that will last a lifetime.

But to top it off, public speaking is fun! We have a saying in our club, it’s like “Saturday Night Live,” only Sunday morning. And it is!

So, I have discovered a completely guiltless fun by participating in and learning the craft of being a public speaker.

Leslie Anderson-Ford, ATMS
President, Renaissance Speakers 2001-2002
Reprinted from The Latest magazine, April 2000

Leslie Anderson-Ford is an accomplished sales and motivational speaker. She can be reached via email at fords@relaypoint.net

About Jo Lauricella

I am a past president of the Renaissance Speakers. I am presently the VP of PR. My first love is public speaking. I love being in front of an audience, I consider myself a conductor of audiences. I am presently organizing a company that will give people the tools to give powerful presentations from the first initial 30 second meeting, to short presentations all the way through a 5 hour seminar.