My Ice Breaker #TM

Hello fellow Toastmasters,

I know this is supposed to be about me, and it will be, but for a moment I want it to be about each one of you. What I want you to do is to take 20 seconds and ask yourself who are the five most influential people to you. Who do you look up to, admire, respect. Is it bill gates and his generosity, or is it Jillian Michaels or Tony Horton and their healthy fitness attitudes, or maybe just your grandma. Go ahead and take a moment to write the names down on the backside of the ballet sheet or just memorize them.

I was asked just the other week to name the five people who influence me most. I came up with

Brian Tracy

Zig Ziglar

Seth Godin

Oscar Wilde

And Tim Ferriss

Maybe you have heard of these people and maybe not. I won’t say you should know them because we are all focused in a different direction in our lives. The reason I wanted you to do this activity was because I believe that everyone should be living their passion. The biggest reason why few are living their passion is not because they “cant”. The universe would never hold you back from doing what you love. The reason is that few know what their passion is.

No one can answer “what is the point of life” for themselves. I had you participate so that if you don’t know what your passion is, I may have lead you one step closer because what I want you to do later  is to sit down and find a common factor between all of top 5 influencers to you. While it may not lead you directly to the point of life, it may make finding your passion much easier.

What my top 5 influencers have in common is that they are all authors and public speakers. But they all bring their unique qualities to the table. Zig Ziglar is motivating and full of wisdom, Brian Tracy is light and gives you the baby steps to life success, Seth Godin forces you to view all angles the and specializes in marketing, Oscar Wilde gives you a flash of history and a bit of romance, and Tim Ferriss is all about making yourself the experiment and breaking status quo.

Unlike these influencers, I have a “problem”. I have too many interests and specialties and goals in life. Last time I counted the number of life goals I had written down, it was over 250. I love to learn new languages like German and French, I love to travel, Parkour, write poetry, try new experiences, live a healthy lifestyle and countless more. All of which I look forward to sharing with you in future speeches.

I hope it’s clear that all of the characters I mentioned, and hopefully I am included with them, live by the quote “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” By Napoleon hill

Can you begin to tell what my passions are yet? I hope it’s clear that I love to motivate, inspire, and encourage people to live the lives that best suit them and their goals in life. Just as well, I love to write and be a financial advisor and a goal consultant. And I do so, right now, by blogging on my website at where my focus is to get you out of your box one life lesson at a time. And I am a firm believer in walking your talk, practicing what you preach and all the other clichés about following the advice you give to others.

But I wasn’t always like this. I had a rough childhood. I don’t remember ever seeing my parents kiss and they were divorcing before I could make the connection. I had an older brother that could have been the perfect role model, but became addicted to drugs and alcohol. My two closest friends that filled the positions of my brother went into the military and the other moved to Texas.

All of this left school to be the only place I could enjoy since it was away from what I was supposed to call “home”, I still had friends there, and of course there were plenty of ladies to chase after. It was not until my sophomore year that I was ready to really educate myself and focus at school instead of using it to cope.

It was my sophomore year that I was able to participate in the Running Start Program where I spent my junior and senior year attending Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois. In the end of the program, I, along with 43 other students, ended up getting our associates degrees two days before our high school diplomas. It was during my two years at college that I began to take responsibility for my life. I began to learn and understand many of life’s lessons and knew where I wanted to go in life.

And here I am. I just moved to Madison from Illinois nearly six months ago. On a side note, I said earlier that I practice what I preach and the reason why I make a great financial advisor is that I am already reaping the benefits of money management. VERY few 18 year olds have the finances or maturity to accomplish the goal of living on their own and supporting themselves without the help of a family or loan.

Now, I am going to be attending UW-Madison in the fall. I am going to major in mass communications and journalism and minor in marketing.  As much of a believer I am in a formal education I joked on facebook the other day that people should like my status if they learned more from Google than from school. There are great benefits to having a formal education, but even greater benefits from self-education and gathering informal credentials.

This is where my self-improvement self-educating attitude comes from and the reason I provide out-of-the-box life lessons to everyone. It is also the reason why I joined Toastmasters. I took a speech class in college and, not only loved it, but rocked it. I think giving speeches is one of the coolest things a person can do and something that is great about it is that not too many do it. Sure there are plenty of variables to it, but the main reason few like public speaking is simply, fear. I told myself once before that one of my missions in life is to overcome fear without hesitation. As uncomfortable as it is to put yourself out there, I do it. Because I live my life by the quote I have tattooed on my back, “If you don’t try, you fail”.

Thank you.

Reactions, Responses, Tips and Testimonials

After giving my first speech at Toastmasters and receiving very positive feedback, I thought I would share it with you. I am putting this up for other Toastmasters and public speakers to view and consider as a proficient piece of work to use as a bit of a guide. I also wanted to share it along with the feedback I received from the club and my evaluators feedback as a Testimonial. At the end I will share some tips about Public Speaking and why my speech was as great as everyone said it was.

“All the greatest lessons in life, are simple.”

My speech ended after 8 minutes and 30 seconds. What I posted above was the hardcore draft I wrote and practiced from. For the most part I stuck to my plan but deviated a few times to make it more casual and not ‘stuck to script’. I wrote up my speech on Monday and practiced it Monday – Wednesday. I suggest taking at least three days to practice your speech, especially if your time is limited with a full-time job. The following is the feedback provided on the ballots.

“I enjoyed your speech. I thought you had a very engaging intro. I liked the organization. You make good eye contact.”

“Excellent job. I like how you introduced the topic by asking the crowd to list their influencers. you are already a proficient speaker. thank you for gracing us with your energy and your knowledge”

“I like your courage of overcoming fears. Thanks for sharing your passion of life. I believe you will be a great public speaker”

“So open and energetic! Love that! Enthusiasm is what we love and want for ourselves. Just a tough long, maybe, a little meandering at the end. But so enjoyable!”

“Got us engaged with a great questions activity. Very well dressed as a presenter. Very comfortable. notes seemed to be well laid out. You have a great voice and great diction and I think this is something you will benefit from”

“Very nice speech. we got to know what you are looking for in your life”

“Good organization of speech, good eye contact, good use of humor, i liked the personal sharing, maybe more of it”

Now I have to laugh. On the backside of the last evaluation ballot there was written “Steve Jobs Barack Obama”. (Remember, I asked everyone to write names of the people who influence them on the backside of the ballot sheet since I was the only one giving a speech that day). Next is the evaluation required in the workbook.

“Very confident. Good eye contact, comfortable, easy presence. Mentioned a # of life goals, talked about your childhood and how that influenced you – good taste of what you are about. Well prepared. Very clear and appropriate volume. Very good opening with audience participation and pauses. Nice conclusion with body gestures – moving forward with body  when you were talking about ‘putting yourself out there’. Glanced at notes once. Possibly incorporate more gestures. Liked Everything! Good intro, bring in audience participation and also your interest in motivation – by asking us to live our life passion.”

To say the least, I signed up for my next speech for the next meeting and hope to share it with you as well. Now for the best part of the post, public speaking tips for you!

  • The greatest action you can take to make it seem that you are not reading from a script is hand gestures. You have to take the audience’s focus away from what you are saying, and have them focus on how you are saying it and presenting it. The impact you are making is far more important than the words you are sharing – show it.
  • Have you made a past speech that you knew you rocked AND have a picture of yourself from it? Frame it and put a sticky note next to it with the reasons you know why your speech was excellent. Look back on it to remind you what you did perfectly and should focus on for your next speech. (You can see mine in the picture above. I have written “Graduation Speech” – Not Nervous – Prepared – Large audience – Motivational – So many more to come – *signed*)
  • Exploit nervousness. The day of my presentation, I can get really nervous. Unlike others, I use it to my advantage. You can too! I do not try to repress the feelings of nervousness – I pull as much of it out. I let myself get sweaty or shaky and lose my appetite. By the time I am finally up to give my speech, I wore my nervous system out. I tell myself before I begin speaking that I have been nervous all day for this, so now its time to be confident.
  • Practice makes perfect. WRONG. It is perfect practice that makes perfect. When you are practicing your speech, go all out. Set up the area you are practicing to look as much like the area you will be presenting in later. Imagine the audience you will be speaking to. Exaggerate all hand motions and gestures as well as raising and lowering the volume of your voice. Do not memorize the words in your speech, memorize your speech – everything about it.
  • Lastly (Have to save more lessons to share next time), people forget the biggest principle about speeches. The intro and conclusion better be the hardest hitting and MEMORIZED. I guarantee that if you memorize an incredible intro and conclusion, no one will care how you presented the fluff of your speech. For that matter, the intro and conclusion cover the simplified version of what is in your body. What does every person in the audience want, whether they show it or not? Quick Compact Convenience.

Stay Positive and Slice The Bread (A lot smoother than breaking ice)

Garth E. Beyer

Garth Beyer

Garth Beyer is a Madison-based writer and Public Relations Strategist focused on telling stories, running through trend-making PR strategies and trying new things in life.

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