Graham is a recent reader of MiddleMe and I am very fortunate to have his acquaintance and him telling me that he enjoy my articles. Reading through his posts, I found that his articles make a lot of great points. And I would love to share one of them here today.

I’m not sure if you have heard of Toastmasters Club and if you haven’t, be sure to read on…


I was at a Toastmasters meeting last night when a member, attempting to encourage newer speakers, said “No speech is a failure – Each speech has an outcome. It’s how you deal with that outcome that counts.”

And I’d agree – at least as far as the sentiment goes. But to paraphrase the old saying, sentiment (and a dollar) will get you a cup of coffee.

The problem with the ‘no fail’ thinking is that it is true within a controlled, safe training environment – but if you go into the real world thinking you can’t really fail .. the repercussions can be dire.

This is NOT meaning to ‘diss’ training organisations like Toastmasters – in fact, it’s the opposite: I’d seriously suggest joining such a group to find a safe, controlled place to practice presentation skills.

When I joined Toastmasters the first time, I was a young radio DJ / newsreader.

I could regularly talk to 50 thousand people at a time, without a worry.

But stick 50 of them in the same room as me, and my tongue would seemingly swell to the size of a killer whale’s fluke, flopping around in my mouth and making me an inarticulate, gibbering mess.

A colleague took pity on me, and gently prodded me in the direction of a local Toastmasters club, where I discovered that with some structured training, I could overcome the butterflies in my stomach – or at least train them to fly in formation, carrying me along with them 🙂

In the 10 years or so that followed, I became quite an accomplished speaker and presenter – and, in fact, have owned and run two training and speaking consultancies in the years since.

But I have also had failures.

I once gave what I thought would be a rollicking, entertaining keynote address that would have the audience both laughing and taking on board the serious underlying message.

Well, that was what I thought. The audience, on the other hand, thought it was a horrid under-prepared pottage of cliches.

I also never got another gig with that particular company.

And that’s what I mean when I say that failure IS a possibility. It wasn’t fatal to my career – but it could have been.

Of course, in line with the advice that I referred to from last night, I also learned from that mistake.

I never thereafter mixed my messages in that way – especially when talking to insurance company sales staff after lunch on day two of a compulsory workshop.

And I have since gone back to Toastmasters, to refresh and refine my skills.

So if you have aspirations to be a leader in your industry; if you want to be seen as a ‘go-to’ guy or girl; if you think that making presentations may be a roadblock in your career;  then consider getting some training: whether it’s one on one with a consultant, or in a structured group environment like Toastmasters or Rostrum.

Because it’s better to stumble in a learning environment than it is in the exam-room called life.

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16 replies on “Guest Post: Training v Real World by Graham

  1. There is a big difference between talking to a bunch of folk over the radio and standing to speak up in front of then. I usually have some kind of notes on me and in my experience I don’t need to use them. It is good to have some idea of what you are going to say. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great points about training oneself and being prepared.

    As for the job and the setting, it can really expose people who are not suited for positions or problems with the training that the employee received. The most important thing is how to take this and adapt so that it does not happen the same way again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the worst examples I witnessed was after a seminar about raising employee morale. All the management members seemed excited and ready to be shining examples of what we learned.

        It was a long seminar and towards the end we were speaking about eating lunch. The seminar ended and we all walked out. An employee came to her manager and quietly asked to speak about something very important. The manager said sorry…She had something very important to take care of first and she would get back with her later.

        She just wanted lunch!!! She could not hear out this persons problem and who knows what it could have been about.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I find that training for Presentations is something people keep signing up for again and again, from new hires to seasoned managers. They always find it useful to catch up with new ideas, and bounce their own off a safe audience.

    Liked by 1 person

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