Dreams do (really) come true. 3 lessons from my first public speaking opportunity.
Speaking at the Toastmasters International Convention in the U.S.A - the story
Was it me or did 2019 seem to fly by?
I pose that question because although it seems like yesterday it was now back in Aug 2019 that a dream, literally, a dream came true for me. Ideally, this post should have been written a little earlier however it is better late than never.
So, the story goes that back in December 2018 I submitted an application to be one of the educational speakers at the International Toastmaster Convention in the US. If you have not heard of Toastmasters before then as a quick synopsis it is an organisation that has many thousands of clubs worldwide that allows anyone to join in order to practice one key skill...public speaking. The Toastmaster website is a great resource if you would like to find out more.
I have been a Toastmaster only since Sept 2018. I joined Toastmasters as part of my own journey of wanting to change my life. It was years ago I received a revelation that informed me that my purpose is connected to speaking. I knew that Toastmasters was going to be a key part to help me practice this skill and allow me to become a better communicator.
The amazing part of this story is I actually do not remember submitting my application to speak at the convention. I faintly remember looking at the Toastmaster website and seeing a very subtle advert for speakers to apply. I even more faintly remember applying and then as quickly as I applied I moved on with life. I think I must have been thinking that I would have a very small chance of actually hearing back.
I applied in Dec 2018 - so lets fast forward to May 2019. It's 3 am in the morning and I am barely awake. I pick my phone up to see the time and there I see an email notification so I quickly take a look at what it is and its title is "2019 Toastmasters International Convention Speaking Opportunity". In my drowsy state my first thought was that it is an email about attendees going to the convention having the opportunity to practice their speaking skills. At that time, I had no intention of travelling to the convention as an attendee so I disregarded the email, put my phone down, turned off my bed light and curled up to go back to sleep. I couldn't get to sleep. Something about that email made me think....surely it can't be what maybe i think it is?? I turned my light back on and picked up the phone and started reading the email....here's what is said;
"Dear Mr. King,
I hope this email finds you well! I am reaching out regarding a speaker proposal you submitted for the 2019 Toastmasters International Convention. After a long process of evaluating over 160 submissions we would be honored to have you participate in our program and are excited about the impact you will have on our attendees....."
After reading the paragraph I just froze. "Surely" I thought....."this cannot be real...." As I read on through the rest of the email it become apparent this was very very real.
I stood up out of bed...I just stood there....still....and realised that back in 2014 I had a revelation that taught me some truths. This is what Thinking Mechanics is all about - encouraging others to understand how we all have the capacity to change, to transform and live the life God designed us for. I said, back in 2014 - "I want to be a speaker, speaking to audiences all over the world about the truth of the freedom granted and graced to us all to live the purpose we were designed for."
For one moment - at 3.15am on May 31st 2019 - time really did stand still for me. My dream became real. I wish I had recorded a video at that very moment. I was actually speechless though. I was in complete awe.
I was walking on a cloud for the next 24 hours and allowed myself to take in all the feelings i was experiencing. Excitement, gratitude, thankfulness as well as tinges of complete and utter fear.
The speech I was deliver would be 50 mins in length. The date - 23rd August 2019 (the day before my 42nd birthday) It would be in Denver, Colorado USA to estimated audience of anywhere between 800 to 1000 people.
In my application I had submitted this synopsis of the speech;
"Becoming a Thinking Mechanic" is about how my life changed 4 years ago based on hearing the following phrase - Your Mind Does Know What To Think It Believes Whatever You Tell It.
My talk is about how we, as individuals, are truly miraculous. That what I learnt four years ago completely altered the trajectory of my life based on the revelation that what we think about, how we feel and the emotions we experience are all components of our lives we have complete authority over. As importantly, my developing an understanding of this truth provides an insight into how we can begin to reign and prosper in our lives to a level we may have only dreamed about before.
I embarked on the process of developing the speech. Much, much easier said than done. Developing a speech is a creative process so I went through LOTS of iterations of the speech. Although it was my dream it was hard to take everything that I had been thinking about and learning about and to get it down on paper in meaningful way. I am fortunate to have developed some friendships with some very experience presenters who were also kind to review my drafts of the speech. The key question and key advice they continually gave to me was: "how is this speech serving the audience?"
Lesson number 1
This is the the important aspect of speaking and the first lesson i learned along this journey. In fact it's an important aspect in life. How are you as the speaker serving the people you are speaking to? The reason this can be a bit of a internal battle is because in many cases the reason you are standing on stage and speaking is from an experience or experiences you have encountered in your life. What must be done with this though is to provide the audience a perspective that they can practically use in their life. In other words - the speech must be for the audience, it cannot be to serve you as the speaker.
I finally arrived at the version of the speech I was content with (but was still abundantly aware there was a lot of work needed to "sharpen it") and began to practice the speech at some Toastmaster clubs as well as a friend's house who kindly invited others to come and listen. This provided me valuable "stage time" and feedback I could incorporate into the speech.
The big day arrived that I needed to depart to the US and so my adventure began on 18th Aug 2019. I posted this video on Facebook to mark the day;
I eventually arrived at Denver International airport with this to greet me (note my name on the iPad in the dashboard);
The chauffeur drove me to the hotel where the convention was being held which was here; Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Denver
When I first laid my eyes on this I immediately thought "oh my gosh....that is a b-i-g building. I was nervous...but ready.
Lesson number 2
That's the next key thing - being prepared. I felt along the journey that I hadn't prepared enough. That there was more I could have done. I think preparation is one of those things that we could always do a little more of but as long as there is some preparation then this is in most cases enough. It is the action of preparation that is required, not necessarily the amount.
I had arrived 6 days before I was to present. This allowed me to practice, practice, practice and practice. The convention was underway during this time so I made sure to enjoy it however I was focused on practicing the speech as well as getting familiar with the room I was to present in. It looked like this;
Another big "gulp" moment.
Then the 23rd August came. The big day had arrived. I allowed myself to relax that morning realising I need to stay present and enjoy every moment the day provided. 1 hour before i was due to go on the room looked like this;
It was an emotional moment for me. The two screens either side of the stage had the holding slide with the title of the speech which was "Becoming a Thinking Mechanic - the nuts and bolts of self leadership" It was a surreal moment. To think back to that day in 2014 that Thinking Mechanics was born and now on the 23rd Aug 2019 it was real...I was actually going to speak and I hoped in a way that would serve those who were gracious enough to come and listen.
This brings to lesson 3. What you heart desires (your dreams) can become a reality.
What your heart desires, those murmurs and sometime faint yearnings you may have are there, put in you, for a reason. Faith is defined as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of which is not yet seen". There is a beautiful truth within this definition. That what you hope for, what you believe for in your life has the innate capacity to become real. In many cases, the only thing hindering it is the measure of faith required to believe it can be, should be, real.
The result of the speech is best described using the Facebook video I posted about 3 hours after I completed the speech. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and helped me decide that this is what I would like to dedicate my life to. Using the gifts given to me to serve people all of the world.
So - this brings to the end of this post. If you have got here...wow, thanks for reading it all the way through. The recording of the entire speech is below.
Becoming a Thinking Mechanic - the nuts and bolts of self leadership. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it helps you in some way. Feedback and comments are most welcome.
Until our next post. Please remember - you are designed for a task, a mission, and assignment. It is aligning our thoughts to this that help us start the process of transforming ourselves and being the very things we born to be.