An article I read this morning got me thinking back to my time spent in the Dale Carnegie Course with Dale Carnegie Training of Southeast Michigan, specifically, the session about impromptu talks. I still remember it vividly to this day, and the lessons I learned still help me in my professional life.
But it was the session I most dreaded. Impromptu speaking? Forget about it. Actually, I think I’m feeling a little ill — I don’t think I’ll make it to class tonight. If there was one hurdle for me to jump over in the Dale Carnegie Course, this was it.
My Type A personality doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for anything unprepared or unplanned. So the fact that my instructor was going to announce a topic and then expect me to jump up and share a story in a three-second span was beyond terrifying.
And not only did I do it — and survive it — but I did it twice. My first topic was “I danced all night” and the second one I can’t recall, but I delivered them and nothing bad happened. I even earned a breakthrough award for my performance. (Me? An award for impromptu speeches?)
Whenever I’m called on to share things in my professional life now, I always think back to that day and remember the strength and courage I demonstrated, getting up in front of the room when all I wanted to do is run screaming down the hallway. That particular session has given me a renewed sense of calm when it comes to being asked to speak on the spot, and is probably my most important takeaway from the course. Whether it’s in a meeting or on the phone, I now understand that unplanned presentations — big and small — don’t have to be as intimidating as Mt. Everest.
And I think I’m definitely better for it. What has been your greatest takeaway from the Dale Carnegie Course?
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