During several years of my professional life, I had to give presentations in public. Sometimes in internal work meetings, others in presentations to clients, even in an academic events.
My presentations basically consisted of reading a Power Point or some document. Let’s say I never received praise for my skills as a communicator, but no criticism either. And I was content with that.
The truth is that I knew he was not a good speaker. And for that very reason, I avoided putting myself in too uncomfortable situations.
To be honest I must admit that deep down I felt some frustration, concern and sometimes envy. Some of my colleagues were able to communicate with impact and that put me at a clear disadvantage.
At some point I went so far as to tell myself that I lacked the natural talent to communicate and that there was no point in worrying about something that couldn’t be changed.
The truth is that I never did anything to remedy it. And so years went by, missing opportunities of all kinds for not having the confidence or the ability to really make my voice heard.
Now I ask you to accompany me to May 21, 2019, in Barcelona. Spain.
Imagine that we are in the living room of a five-star Grand Hotel. It is the Awards Ceremony of the Annual Spanish Speech Contest held by Toastmasters International. With more than 300,000 members, Toastmasters is the world’s largest organization for developing communication skills.
The peak moment of the night arrives. From the loudspeakers of the spacious hall you can hear the solemn voice of the master of ceremonies who says: “And the first place in the Spanish Speech Contest goes to… Juan Carlos Durán!”…! Explosion of applause and cheers of the attendees!
The judges of the contest had given me the first place! I was so proud that I could almost float.
Among more than one hundred participants from 50 oratory clubs from all over Spain, dedicated to cultivating the art of rhetoric, I was the first, I, who years before had limited myself to doing Karaoke with Power Point!
What had happened?
One of those days, nine years earlier, I decided that enough was enough: I was going to take the bull by the horns. And I began to study and learn the techniques and secrets that great speakers use in their presentations and speeches.
Courses, books, videos, podcasts, speech clubs, NLP, coaching, etc. If it helped me improve, I analyzed it, learned it and practiced it, regardless of the cost or effort. Little by little, year after year.
Thanks to my new communication skills, I took on challenges and achieved results that previously would have seemed simply unattainable. Sell to groups, give lectures in large auditoriums, present events or become a champion of public speaking in Spain.
I have gained so much confidence that, as my wife says, now the difficult thing is to keep me quiet.
What valuable lessons have I learned on this journey that may be of interest to you?
First, I discovered that communication is my “element,” as education guru Ken Robinson puts it, the intersection between something you are very good at and something you enjoy doing.
Second, speakers are not born, they are made. Knowing how to speak in public is not a talent, it is a skill. It can be learned and refined. The proof of this is myself.
Third, you don’t have to spend years becoming a good speaker. You can dramatically speed up your learning process. To achieve this you need the right guide and method. I have proven it by helping others to achieve it.
So, today, I am dedicated to helping other people who, like me in their day, seek to take their communication skills to the next level.
If that is your goal, here you have me to accompany you on the wonderful and satisfying path of developing your skills as a communicator.