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What has public speaking taught me?

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Public speaking changed my life and it can change yours too

How can public speaking change your life? You have your situation that you’re in at the moment. Sorry, I don’t know who you are. I’d love to know. Put your name in the comments below. Let me know who you are. So, I can’t really predict how it can change your life, but I can share my own story of how it changed my life. I’m Shola. I’m a public speaking coach. I’m also a professional speaker, and I do some corporate training as well around communication skills and presentation skills. Years and years ago, I really thought that I would never ever be able to do public speaking. I had a corporate job. I was working in a tech company as a consultant, an IT consultant, and I used to dread having to facilitate meetings. I can remember I was working at a particular client, and I’d been asked to run a meeting I just would think, “What am I going to do? How am I going to do this?” I had no idea how to go about facilitation. I was really scared.

I was let go from my job because I couldn’t add value in meetings

Flash forward to another job, and this job now, I was an accounts director. In this particular job, I was supposed to be running meetings and working with clients in meetings all the time. Once again, no idea what I was doing. The company didn’t provide any training, and I remember just sitting in meetings and keeping my head down and trying to not be noticed, even though it was my job to be running the meetings. Right? Ultimately, in that particular job, after six months, they let me go because they said that I wasn’t really providing enough value. So, that was my background with public speaking, and I just thought, “Well, I am crap. I’ve got nothing to offer. I can’t even work in the corporate workplace anymore because who am I? I’m just washed up.” Right? So, that was what I was thinking about. That’s what was on my mind for myself and my career.

Working and training with coaches changed me for the better

I completely checked out of corporate life for a while and trained to be a coach, a life coach, and started taking singing lessons, did all sorts of things, nothing to do with public speaking. Then eventually something was tugging at me. Come back. Take some speaker training. Take some training. I started out by enrolling in Toastmasters, and I think I heard about it two years before I actually signed up. I signed up and really started to enjoy that. Then I started to get some private coaching. I had a coach that was here in London. I had another coach in Canada. I was enrolling in various coaching with people from the States, a couple of different coaches from… Three, I think, four different coaches from the States. So, I just started to get on a roll with public speaking and I loved it. And I was like, “Wow, I want to get better and better.”

Through speaker training you may uncover untapped potential

Then I realized I wanted to actually make this part of my life, and I wanted to help others and use the skills that I’d learned from singing and the skills I’d learned from speaking to help others who were like me, who just thought they could never be decent speakers. I think quite often, especially if you’ve got a background that doesn’t lend itself to sharing ideas… My background was in the sciences, and it was all about making calculations and doing things in the lab. It wasn’t really about communicating ideas verbally. There are a lot of people who’ve got a lot of speaking potential, but they just don’t know it because they’ve never been asked to speak very much.

Speaker training can change your career, increase your income and your confidence

So in those sorts of situations, taking an initial public speaking class, even taking a class online, can help get your foot in the door and make you realize what public speaking can do for you. But in terms of how it’s changed my life, wow. I mean, it’s given me a career. I not only speak for a living, but also train people to speak and then also speak… Well, yeah, coach people, train people, and speak. It’s given me an income, and not everyone will go all the way to actually doing it for a living. But that was my eventuality. Other people will find that it’s given them tons of confidence. It gave me a lot of confidence. I used to be afraid of having to make toasts or stand up or speak in front of people, and that has gone away now.

Speaking skills can make you a better leader

It’s given me leadership skills. So, once I started to want to train people… I started my own meetup groups and then run my own workshops and wrote books on communication skills, and all of those things. All that confidence came from public speaking, and that enabled me to be a leader. The world needs leaders. The world needs people who have integrity and have ideas and big messages to share and can lead other people. Most certainly, having speaking skills will help you with that. It helped me to speak online. I now have a video blog and a podcast, all that came about through public speaking. The confidence to speak gave me the confidence to go on video, and I could probably go on. I could probably sit here for another 20 minutes and just share the benefits that I’ve gained from public speaking.

I encourage you to take one step forward in your speaking journey – I promise it can change your life

It really, really has turned my entire life around. So, I say to you, if you are curious about how public speaking can change your life, then just dip your toe in. Take a class. Have a bit of coaching. Sign up for an online course just to begin that journey and see where it can take you because you might be completely amazed at where you end up. But you’ve just got to take that first step. I hope that conveys to you how much public speaking has changed my life, and I really hope that it can change yours. I’m convinced that it will if you just take that first step. Thanks a lot for listening and take care. Bye.

Shola Kaye is an award-winning speaker, author and professional speaker coach with clients around the world. Her work has been mentioned in Forbes, Harper’s Bazaar and on the BBC.
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