11 months ago I was sitting in LA traffic on the 5 freeway at 6:37am in the morning wondering what in the hell did I just do taking a job where I have to commute a few days a week like this. My alarm had gone off that morning at 4:55am and I was hitting the road in the pitch dark hoping to beat the traffic…I didn’t. That afternoon I attempted to get out of the office early enough to beat the traffic back home…I didn’t. By the time I pulled back into my driveway in the pitch dark again thirteen and a half hours later I was exhausted, demoralized, stressed out and a bit depressed. The process continued for a few weeks, and I was getting more and more burnt out by the day. My routine became one of coffee fuel in the morning and booze fuel to help sleep…it wasn’t a good recipe.
After about a month of that, something happened one morning that changed the course of my life. The day started out the same. Monday morning 4:55am alarm, coffee, shower, more coffee and out the door. I got into my car and as I headed up the hill outside of my neighborhood I went to open up the ESPN app and put on a sports talk show as I had the previous month. Instead of hitting the ESPN app I accidentally hit the YouTube app and it popped open. At the top on a suggested video I saw something titled Monday Morning Motivation or something to that effect. I almost closed it but something deep down inside, knowing I was not in a great space urged me to hit the play button. I cannot tell you how significant that one video was.
The music slowly picked up as the message built, spitting famous quotes and sections from speeches designed to make you feel amazing, and truth be told it was working. I ripped through 5 motivational talks while driving to the office that day. By the time I got there it was 7:02am and I literally felt like kicking the door down when I walked in I had some much positive energy going. On the way home it was a mixture of work phone calls and motivational speeches. I’ll never forget pulling into the driveway that night sitting in the car for an extra 20 minutes because I wanted to finish a speech I was listening to. Things had changed…permanently.
From that week on I went through every podcast I could find from Tony Robbins to Eric Thomas to the “How I built This” podcast on NPR, and then finally I stumbled on Les Brown. If you haven’t listened to his stuff, do it. He is famous for the line “there is greatness within you” and it was actually the combination of his speeches and Gary V who motivated me to take the long book I had been trying to finish for years and scrap it up to launch my blog. The common thread I found from all these great speakers, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, etc. was that you’re never ready. The people who succeed are the ones who take action, and if you fail just remember what Les Brown says, “If you fall over just make sure and land on your back, cause if you can look up, then you can get up!”
So, what does all this have to do with the blog and how does it help you??? After about 6 months of listening to the above, I decided to really utilize my morning commute to get better at presenting and writing for my blog. I began playing my favorite speeches over and over again listening to the words as I drove not for content but for pitch, tone, tempo, pause and reaction. As I began to do this I began to incorporate these learning's into my presentations and my speeches.
One thing we know for sure, if you don’t practice your presentations, you won’t get better. The very first step in becoming a better speaker in any situation is to record yourself and watch it back. This one step can help you solve 60-70% of your potential issues. Watching yourself and listening to your voice (although painful as that may be) is crucial in developing the proper tones, pitch, pauses, hand gestures and goes a long way in eliminating pesky catch phrases like “um”.
However, we max out on helping ourselves at some point and utilizing YouTube videos is the easiest, fastest and also cheapest way to learn and absorb!
As we know, if you take away one of our five sense, the other 4 get stronger. When it comes to public speaking I cannot tell you how important it is to your success to LISTEN. Listen to other speakers without watching them and I can guarantee you that you pick up things that you will never pick up by watching the video. Remember, you are not going to magically become a better speaker, it will take work and effort. The good news is that most people are not working or not putting in effort to be a better speaker so you have an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd.
30 Minute Challenge – Pull up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLcJHC9J7l4 this video of Eric Thomas giving his famous speech “How Bad do you want it” and listen to it WITHOUT watching it. What do you hear in his voice, what types of things do you think he is doing with his hands, body? What types of emotions do you feel?
Now, listen to it again, but this time watch it. What did you guess right, what was different than listening to it?
At the end of the day, whether we improve as public speakers or not is up to us. There is nothing stopping you from taking back your commute and using it for positive momentum. Think about this, how much time do you spend in the car a day, week, month year??? Set a goal, start small and see where it goes.
30-minute commute 4 days a week = 4 hours a week. If you invested just half of that time you could be listening to 2 hours a week of podcasts or industry/specific related videos, and in 5 months you would be over 40 hours. Think about that, it would be like working a 40-hour week except all you were doing was pumping yourself full of motivation and improvement! The time to change is now…why wait, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Best part of free YouTube videos, if you’re not into it just click the next arrow.
What if I don’t have a commute??? I have you covered, but chances are you are not going to like my idea. In an article written by Autumn Rivers on “The Marketing Scope” she estimated through surveys that upwards of 75% of people use their smart phones while in the bathroom. Now, based on the fact that is coming from a survey even an anonymous one my gut tells me that is low. I would bet it’s closer to 90%! So in an effort to keep this conversation at a high level let’s just say you start dedicating some of that time where you are planted in one position, to actually help yourself out, rather than getting lost in the world of Instagram or Facebook. Start following people who are professional speakers or motivators and decide to read an article at least once a day instead of checking your social sites.
Let’s say you did this, let’s even say you wanted to be free to check your social feeds all weekend, even on Fridays. Okay, we’ll go with it, just reading an article once a day, Monday — Friday in a time where you are literally not able to do anything else would mean that you would have read over 200 articles in one year. I wonder if you would be a better version of yourself with 208 bathroom breaks giving you insights versus mindlessly scrolling up and down?