A Guest Post by Chris Gregory:
Do You Know Jack?
Well fortunately I do! And I say fortunately because I really feel that if it weren’t for Jack Nichols and Victor Broski at the Speakers Bureau I wouldn’t be out there speaking to a huge variety of audiences. Not only speaking to them but “being invited back”. You can have all the confidence and technique in the world, but if you aren’t invited back, then you’ve probably missed something along the way.
If you don’t know Jack, then you probably at least know JACK! Jack Nichols that is. The Speakers Bureau has been a huge learning experience where I’ve seen some incredible speakers. The interesting thing is that a lot of these incredible speakers didn’t necessarily impress the Bureau the first time they spoke. Or should I say they did impress, but not in a good way.
You’ve probably heard that expression: “It’s okay to fail!” Well that’s both true and false. It is true that if you fail at the Speakers Bureau you may be subject to some pretty harsh criticism. The fact is that if you listen to the criticism it will make you a better speaker. For those who don’t fail, their learning experience may be limited.
The power of the Speakers Bureau is that you get to give your presentation before a live, mentoring audience where the price of failure is nothing. The truth is that if you were to go out and speak to a live paying audience and didn’t deliver the goods, you probably will have a very, very short career.
The first time I came to the Speakers Bureau I was a cocky, over-confident, belligerent speaker who had all the answers and thought I was King! And you guessed it – I FAILED! And was subjected to some pretty fierce criticism. Jack met me after the meeting as I was dragging my tail out the door trying to keep a pleasant smile on my face. Deep down inside I wanted to tell them a thing or two. But in all honesty, the person I needed to tell off was myself.
Jack said: “Well you heard it from the gang! But don’t take it personally they really are trying to help you become a better speaker and I see a lot of good talent in you. I suggest you try again! When do you want to do it?” I replied, “Next month.” Jack stepped back a moment and asked, “Are you sure?” I said yes – I wanted to take everything I learned that humbling night and come back and wow them. And I did. The first person who critiqued me the following month was Lee McMorris and the first words out of her mouth were, “WOW what a difference!”
Here is the key to that success: “I LISTENED TO MY CRITIQUES!” And I wasn’t afraid to come back and give it my best. In addition, I’ve been able to reach my audiences right down to their souls and every speech I give leaves them with a challenge or commitment.
I feel that before I came to the Speakers Bureau I only spoke to be heard. Now I speak to convince.
This month has been the most involved I’ve been in my speaking career. I’ve been asked to speak for three separate non-profit organizations. BAREthebully.org, WHW.org, and International Association of Professional Administrators. In addition have been asked to be interviewed on KTLA for working with the Special Olympics and helping the Global Messengers. Now it’s time to panic as I need to get my act together as I’ve been asked to align with another non-profit and 2 others have asked for my rate sheet. When it rains, it pours! Now I need to learn a new skill – calendar planning.
I’m not here to brag but rather to show you that if you listen instead of defend, then you will learn. But there comes a time when you have to take all the listening and put it into good practice. Don’t be afraid to speak to the Speakers Bureau. I recommend it to anyone who has any ambition to speak outside Toastmasters to come and try to get qualified at the Speakers Bureau. I also suggest that before you sign on that dotted line with Victor, that you come and witness the process at least 3 times.
I’ve always looked back on the entire process and I have to say thank you for bringing me to the next level. I’m neither cocky or belligerent any more; I learned to use my skill sets in a much better way.