I talk a lot. So much so that it’s become my career. 

Yes, some may view me as the curiously “courageous,” sometimes misunderstood, and occasionally envied public speaker. Hoorah. My eight-year journey into speaking was more of a tumble. In all honesty, I fell in, ill-prepared and woefully uneducated on what to expect.

Over the years, as my career has started to grow, people commonly ask me how they can pursue sharing their personal stories or delving into the profession. This question comes up so often that I thought it was time to give some pointers to interested people. Therefore, this is a series of suggestions for those interested in pursuing this path. 

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Part Two of this series consists of various suggestions on places to begin speaking and honing skills. The most challenging part of starting a journey into speaking is beginning. I found free speaking opportunities presenting themselves due to the community work I was already doing. However, not everyone will be in the same community spheres, have the same networks, or even know where to begin. 

COMMUNITY

Your community comprises various social issues, activities, and organizations constantly looking for speakers and people with expertise and experience. Many communities and community-based organizations have an event calendar with regular meetings and larger-scaled events. It usually is almost effortless to attend these events, network, or even offer yourself up as a subject matter expert in an area of interest. 

When I first began speaking, I found local campuses that needed outside experts, community groups, and interested nonprofits looking to learn more. Soon after I realized how much I enjoyed speaking, I started venturing into varying public formats to build and develop myself as a more rounded speaker. For example, a poetry night event will feature and offer different types of skill development than an open mic comedy night. Both are beneficial in their own rights. 

Many nonprofit or volunteer groups are also open to speakers. Some places or groups you could look into are: 

  • Kiwanis Club
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Lions Clubs
  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Girl Scouts
  • Boy Scouts
  • Local Schools and Colleges
  • Community Coalitions
  • Community Taskforces
  • Nonprofit Agencies
  • Open Mic Nights
  • Improv Nights
  • Poetry Events
  • Toastmasters and similar groups

PODCASTS

Podcasts are not going anywhere anytime soon. There is a podcast for everything right now, and that means the hosts need to find engaging, fresh, and insightful voices to feature. Many of the smaller podcasts are always in search of guests. This is a great way to get your story out there while also having the ability to re-listen to the podcast so you can further hone your speaking and storytelling skills. 

You will want to be sure you are a good fit for the podcast and vice versa. I learned an important lesson: listen to at least two podcast episodes (spaced time-wise concerning release dates). This will ensure that you know the host(s) interview style and the type of interactions you can expect. In addition, you’ll need to be able to help promote the podcast across your platforms. Finally, be sure to ask the hosts or their organizers what expectations they may have of you as a guest!

Places to find a podcast looking for a guest: 

  • Friends starting a new podcast
  • Community-based podcasts
  • Facebook groups for podcasts looking for guests
  • Web searches 
  • LinkedIn groups for podcasts looking for guests

Finally, if none of these options are for you, just grab your phone and start filming yourself speaking. This is a great impromptu way of practicing pacing, language selection, and cleaning up those ums and errs. I will admit that filming myself speaking is definitely my least favorite option of all of these. But it is also one of the best ways to self-critique and manage those bad habits in a safe and judgment-free (excluding you, of course) space. 

I hope these suggestions will give you a few ideas on how to begin your journey into speaking. Leave me a comment and let me know what type of content you would like to learn more about!

-Susie 

Stay Tuned for Part 3 Creating YOUR Content

You can learn more about safely crafting and sharing your story in my book: The Art of Safe Storytelling 

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