Lesson 2: My camera taught me to be teachable

It was too easy at first. Jump out of bed, grab a quick shot of the beautiful sunrise, post it on Flickr.com and marinade in the compliments. Repeat daily. At first, Mother Nature provided enough variety to ensure that, like snowflakes, the sunrises weren’t exactly identical. But there got to be enough similarity that I needed to do something different. Anyway, I was shooting fish in a barrel. A 10 mile drive to Toronto lake shore changed the perspective and my viewer count surged temporarily. A suggestion from a regular visitor from Scotland jolted me out of my duffer rut. By letting the Toronto skyline remain out of focus, I achieved the result displayed at right. That photo reached 200 views in a couple of days, quadruple my previous high. My Scottish visitor was delighted that I welcomed his advice, apparently something that is rare in his experience. And that is the second lesson.

Lesson 2: To exchange duffer status for greater competence, you must become teachable.

How does this lesson apply to our presentation-averse introvert? In Lesson #1, she rued her decision to decline an opportunity to deliver an important presentation. Over a Caramel Macchiato, she determined never again to watch someone else embrace a career-advancing opportunity that was rightly hers. What action would ensure that outcome? I know of no more affirming place to improve one’s presentation skills than the local Toastmasters.org group.

5 reasons presentation-averse introverts should start at Toastmasters:

  1. That introvert-filled room knows exactly how you feel the first time.
  2. You can tailor your activity to your objective and proceed at your own pace.
  3. A full range of experience surrounds you, from novice to wizened old veteran.
  4. Abundant opportunities to earn tangible evidence of growing proficiency.
  5. Garner resume-worthy objective indicators of achievement.

If you can find an easier way to get 20 people together to provide high-quality feedback once a week for as many years as it takes to move from duffer to expert, be my guest!

5 Action steps to launch:

  1. Locate a convenient Toastmasters group, attend and participate.
  2. Look for an experienced member with whom you feel comfortable and meet her for a coffee.
  3. Explain your long-term objectives and set short-term goals and ask her to “coach” you.
  4. Video record a speech, watch it together and ask for an honest appraisal.
  5. Apply what you learn on your next speech. Repeat as needed.

There is only one requirement for maximum benefit from Toastmasters. Be teachable, willing to learn from the veteran or those who join up after you.

Remember the element of surprise – don’t let anyone at work know what you are doing. Remember that you want maximum astonishment when you deliver that amazing speech. Don’t raise expectations and diminish the impact.

Lesson 2: To lose duffer status, become teachable.

Lesson 3 coming soon!

Photo Credit: Dan Armishaw  View larger version here

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