I was 4 in front of about 200 people and I loved it.
It was a Part about the meeting between Aaron and the Priests of Levi – a Sister called Mom to see if I would help with her Part. Mom’s excitement fired up my own. My job was to point at and describe the jewels on the breastplate of the Levi. Her son had drawn a perfect picture complete with robes, beard, and stern, no-smile eyes daring me to get it wrong. The sketch was bigger than me.
Every adult in the room was poised, afraid I would forget, panic, and go running off the stage to Mom. I could smell the fear and scoffed at it. I mean, I was almost 4 – not some kid.
Joining the ministry school on my own was my ultimate goal. Forced to wait till I was 6, it was the “Second School” for me. Not less important, just smaller. My favorite was the report card after your Part…..G for Good, I for Improving, and W for Work on this. Your critique was public, followed by a paper report card.
This was a public speaking course on steroids.
I choked back tears the first time (only time) I got a W- especially since I knew I had “asked questions, engaged my audience, and used illustrations”. That particular instructor didn’t like me much – a 7-year-old can tell.
As a woman, I wasn’t allowed to talk facing the audience. I blamed the Apostle Paul – or you might know him as Saint Paul. He made one casual comment about women not teaching in the synagogue and I wasn’t allowed to stand at the podium and give my “part”. The gentler sex could still participate but only by creating a type of skit, a play really, with another Sister. The congregation could “listen in” which meant a woman wasn’t actually teaching, keeping the Bible-Based-Boundaries and Paul’s sensitivities safe.
I loved making up scenarios that made my “part” more interesting. I could write the topic like I was talking to my grandma, my teacher, my doctor, my… well, anyone I wanted and in any setting. That almost made up for a table vs. a podium. It was ultimate role-playing.
My dad – he was allowed to speak from the podium of course- once had a part about the ancient scrolls and much to the delight of everyone in the audience (except the people snoozing!) he had created a scroll to illustrate how tough it would have been to find the passage you wanted by – yup! You guessed it! He “dropped” the scroll and let it roll down the center aisle.
That was attention-getting – and I know people still remember his talks, decades later.
I loved when our family – or just me – gave experiences at the larger conventions – with audiences of thousands. It was a teaching moment and a chance to tell a story that might change someone else’s mind or even their heart. It was a chance to make a difference.
Like the year my parents decided that instead of a once-a-week family Bible Study- we would get up a half hour earlier and read a chapter or two. It was hard, and not fun with a big age span between all 7 of us. It was embarrassing to admit on stage how hard it was. But that became the part other families really keyed in on. It was hard, but it became easier. The moderator asked my dad to really emphasize how difficult it was to make this a routine.
That was real life and never left me- the hard stuff is tough to start doing. And telling a few hundred other families was embarrassing but it helped them. Somehow, once we celebrated the routine of doing it, we stopped. I don’t remember why. It just, somehow, trickled away.
That can happen with important stuff. Like healthy eating, flossing, cleaning your bathroom, …..working your business….(see what I did there ?)
I remember realizing that the “speaking school” meetings were in fact, a type of sales meeting.
Working in business, sales and training meetings have been a part of my weeks for almost 40 years. Monday morning success stories. Client focus groups. Uncoveries that lead to brilliant strategies.
I love making a difference and talking to people who want to learn and discover and DO!! My stories now are quite a bit different… mostly. Well… maybe after a beautiful glass of wine, there is the potential for a bit of an overlap.
My earliest resume included my public speaking training and experience, along with my door-to-door volunteer work. Nothing partisan – just the facts ma’am.
I love to share what I have done, read about, and been taught. I have lived the title of Trainer for decades but really, what is important to me is to discover what is possible. And what I love is when people – groups or individuals – let me know that it worked. They are intrigued and inspired by what is possible. And always, so am I.
Talking to a huge auditorium of people can be easier than talking to one person, but the opportunity to make a difference and help is the same and just as much fun.
I don’t remember exactly the jewels on the high priest’s breastplate anymore, but I will never forget that they were important. For focus. For my focus. And if you get a “W” it can also mean “Wow – look what you can do. Do it again!!”
Sales training should almost never be about the product.
It’s about the sharing and the possibilities and what comes next as you map out the success you want for your business and your people.