Toastmasters and Advertising – Take Numero Dos
A few weeks back I wrote the first of three blogs about Toastmasters’ impact on my career in advertising and effectiveness as a communicator. My past blog focused on wingin’ it, shootin’ from the hip, praying to the gods of improv or any other cliche that applies to walking into a situation unprepared with only a topic in mind.
For those of you who don’t know, Toastmasters International focuses on giving speeches and building up the confidence to tackle public speaking like a pro. My initial approach of wingin’ it backfired during one speech where I simply froze and could not organize my thoughts. I freaked, my confidence broke down and the end-result was a diluted version of crap. So I decided to sharpen my approach to speechwriting, and by default communications as a whole.
I realized the issue was in lack of preparation, so I started building my speeches in the same way I was taught to write essays back in school – an outline with intro, body, conclusion and relevant details. I improved from the get-go because I knew my topic, where I wanted to take my audience and how I was going to do it. Preparation led to more engaged audiences and more insightful speeches.
Now, let’s switch gears and talk about the impact this evolved approach to Toastmasterin’ had on my performance as an adman.
Simply put: I took prepping for meetings, presentations, proposals and everything else career-related to another level. I no longer wanted to step into a board room hoping to use my quick-thinking skills as my weapon of choice, but now carried endless metaphorical weapons – knowledge and confidence- all hidden away.
Because of this mindset, I was able to guide discussions and my clients as a whole, as opposed to letting the discussion and my clients’ needs dictate my behavior (and stress levels). This last sentence might seem “ehhh” to some of you, so I ask you to really digest the thought behind it. It’s all about ownership.
For me, being able to control a situation ties directly into how much confidence oozes out me. When people, especially clients (you know, the people that pay us thousands and thousands of dollars to EXECUTE), see and feel this confidence, they are more open to understanding a decision or recommendation. This is advertising- the game of gentle, clear persuasion with logic and reasoning behind it. If you can connect the dots you should know that improved confidence pays off long-term.
Thanks to Toastmasters the business-side of me came about, but this sacrificed a bit of the creative ME that came out by wingin’ it. Stay tuned for blog numero tres to see how the two became one.