Archive: December, 2012

Post from Transformation Tom- Have a Different Set of Eyes on It— Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” from the section “Make Your Message Count”

Posted by tomdowd - December 27, 2012 - News
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Have a Different Set of Eyes on It

Whether you are working on the first or the fifteenth draft of a speech, always seek advice from a friend, a family member, or anyone available throughout the process. It is sound advice to use friends and family to help improve speech delivery. It is also important to get them involved even earlier in the process by looking at the written content. If possible, try to have someone similar to the intended audience (who may more easily relate to the message) see if he or she can grasp the points you are attempting to make. That may not always be possible, but don’t trust that you have nailed down your content until others have read it. I have seen myself and others wait too long before having friends and family take a look. This actually creates more work, since you have most likely started memorizing the speech and you may now have to go back and recreate new portions. Find someone with an objective point of view to read through it first.

There may not always be a major overhaul, but changing a single word or re-ordering a sentence can change the audience reaction from a “that’s nice” reaction to “Wow!” I once finished in third place in a speech contest. There were only three people in the contest. The feedback I received revolved around the audience not fully understanding my message because the key point wasn’t revealed until the end. By simply moving the message to the front and re-emphasizing the point later, I saw tears of joy shed because of my newly revised inspirational message. My speech today would have been collecting dust as a one-time message if I hadn’t invested time finding people to read through it in detail.

 

Note:  I recently found a new related website of interest:  https://joyfulpublicspeaking.blogspot.com/     Joyful Public Speaking (from fear to joy)

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide are available under “Products” on www.transformationtom.com.  Book purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed:  Amazon.com

eBook purchase options include the following- Click link to be re-directed:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Smashwords

Kobo

Sony eBooks

Apple Store (iTunes)

Post from Transformation Tom: Funeral for a Friend

Posted by tomdowd - December 20, 2012 - News
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In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT, I can’t help but reflect on a Toastmasters speech I wrote earlier this year. Although nothing I can say can bring those people back, maybe I can bring a little solace by sharing an inspirational speech about a 10 year old, a goldfish, and the small steps needed to start to move forward. My hope is that this can provide something, even a little strength, to carry on.

YouTube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGR3qNvXpeA

Funeral for a Friend

A cardboard matchbox casket placed between two candles sat on a simply decorated table with the hand written note, “Loving Fish, Loving Friend.” You see, Clide, spelled with a “I”, died.

To quote the English poet Gayles Brandreth, “Oh wet pet,” is how my wife started the celebration of Clide’s life.  My twelve-year-old daughter Erin said, “I didn’t like the way Clide ate slowly…but I loved the joy he gave Tatum,” followed by a friend, “I never met Clide, but whenever I was around Tatum, I could tell she really loved him and he loved her.”

This is the story of how my 10 year old daughter Tatum, made the three-week life of a two inch fish memorable. Grief often makes us nervous and uncomfortable. Tatum reminds us about the resilience of children and their ability to teach us that sometimes strength and clarity comes from our unique ways of dealing with death on our own terms.

Tatum hatched a plan in the summer.  She strategically placed a crayon drawing of a goldfish in a glass bowl.  The picture screamed, “I want one.”  No words needed.  It almost worked. The parental concerns of a short-life span and inevitable disappointment had us remain steadfast.  Next came the one word Christmas wish list, “Goldfish.”  Santa surprised us all when he left a bubbling tank with a perky little orange and white fish. The simple joy of a little girl’s smiling face as she sprinted down the stairs past a mountain of presents to get her first glimpse of Clide showed us how wrong we were.

She routinely fed the fish and truly bonded with her fat and happy swimming friend.  Then, a change- a few white specks.  No big deal, they looked like bubbles- a day later- a turn for the worse as he lay on the tank floor with very little movement.

A recovery was unlikely. The helplessness sank in as a pleading Tatum pulled her mattress off her bed and put it next to the tank.  While Clide struggled, there were desperate cries for help through the night, “Please don’t let him die…I love him too much.” You can’t dismiss the grief of a child, but you can watch their spirit and adaptability in amazement.

The expert diagnosis was quick and clear- not the typical over-feeding of the goldfish.  No, it was worse.  He was cleaned to death.

Tatum took it in stride and set in motion a celebration of life for the ages when she handed out funeral invitations. It read, “If you’re able to attend, please prepare a speech to share.” My speech writing skills have never been more tested. Tatum said he was to be buried in the yard.  Apparently, flushing was not an option.  My first thought was how was I going to dig a hole in the ground in Maine in January?

While “Sad Fish Song” played in the background, a group of family and friends gathered. There was some older sister snickers, but the speech themes were constant–the joy Clide brought to Tatum. After a rousing rendition of Amazing Clide, where the group had to be reminded that it was a funeral, not a concert- my vulnerable youngest daughter delivered the eulogy.

I ran downstairs on Christmas day, I wanted to shout hip-hip hooray, Because before me I got a bright little fish, I’d train him, feed him, and have but one wish, That he loved me as much as I loved him, And how I loved to watch him swim, I remembered the day his scales turned white, It really was an awful sight, He was so still, His mouth turned black, It hurt me so much, Just to think back, The next day I ran home to check on him, That dreadful sight destroyed my grin, All I wanted to do was hold his fin, At his last breath, my heart cried, For my dear beloved Clide had died

Our reluctance towards pet ownership came to fruition.  Yet, in a poignant, profound, and beautiful way, Tatum dealt with loss and mortality through laughter, tears, and creativity.  We all have resilience in us. Remember Tatum and release your inner child in your own moments of grief and know that you will get through it in time, on your terms.

With plastic champagne flutes filled with sparkling cider, a final salute was made to the departed as we munched on Gold Fish crackers.

A new day, a new spirit –dealing with death her way.  A small container of Clide’s water sat on the window sill as Tatum happily talked with her new fish “Gil.”

Post from Transformation Tom- Use Fear as a Motivator— Chapter “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” from the section “The Anxiety”

Posted by tomdowd - December 14, 2012 - News
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Use Fear as a Motivator

 

If anticipation of speaking publicly still puts knots in your stomach, then use it as motivation. Fear does different things to different individuals. Some people become paralyzed and simply choose to do nothing. Yes, nothing is an option—but there are better options. Avoiding having to present in front of a large group is possible. However, conversations with a client you are trying to sell to or negotiating with individuals will happen in your day-to-day business. Even normal personal interactions may require assertive and confident communication that will only generate fear because you have convinced yourself through the infamous avoidance technique that you are not ready. Avoidance, as a solution, is probably not your best course of action to get over the fear.

Fear can become a motivator that can push you harder, make you more creative, and get you to dig deeper. It can drive you to do your due diligence to prepare for the unexpected or avoid making similar mistakes going forward. You can hit things head on that are the root causes of your fear. Personally, I had to take a different tack in my own preparation after I forgot certain sections of an important speech. I immediately changed when, where, and how often I practiced. Additionally, now when I start to feel anticipation and angst building up, I find extra time to pull out the material again and make sure I know it inside and out.

You do have some control. If you are afraid your message won’t stick, invest a significant amount of time into the content and delivery, to make sure the message will stick. If you are uncomfortable with your knowledge of the material, study it and become a subject-matter expert. If you are afraid you are too inexperienced, find stage time to get more experience. Even with all of this, you should understand that despite putting in preparation time and doing your homework, mistakes will be made—no matter how hard you work. You must simply commit to learning from them. Don’t let this thing called fear hold you back; see it as the guiding force to get you where you want to be. Stare it in the face, and suddenly your motivation will move you further towards your personal and professional goals. Remember that this natural feeling is holding many others back; by taking actions to reduce the impact fear has on you, you have differentiated yourself from many others. That, in itself, is success.

 

Thomas B. Dowd III’s books The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World and From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide are available under “Products” on www.transformationtom.com.  Book purchase options are also available on Amazon- Please click the link to be re-directed:  Amazon.com

eBook purchase options include the following- Click link to be re-directed:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Smashwords

Kobo

Sony eBooks

Apple Store (iTunes)