Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

If You Improve One Skill This Year, Make It Public Speaking

April 28th, 2014 by Karen Climer

Early in my career I was the director of annual giving for an arts organization that received significant local funding, so I occasionally attended  city council meetings.  This organization found itself in the middle of an arts censorship debate right around the time the city was voting on the annual budget.  I was sitting with some of my colleagues in council chambers waiting for the weekly city council meeting to begin when our executive director came up to me and said, “You’re a city resident, right?  Will you speak during the public comments section?”  It wasn’t really a question.

During the meeting, I came up with a quick outline.  When they called my name, I spoke on the merits of art museum, why censorship was a bad idea, and why cutting funding because art offended you is an even worse idea.  As I was turning to return to my seat, the mayor announced, “I haven’t decided if I’m going to run for re-election, but if I do, I’ll hire you to be my speechwriter.”

“Thank you.  I’d be happy to do it,” I said.  I returned to my seat, and was so grateful for Toastmasters.  This wasn’t the first time I had given an important speech with almost no prep time.  I had been practicing it for years in Toastmasters.

When I first started my career, I joined Toastmasters.  Toastmasters is an organization that focuses on public speaking and leadership.

I know, I know…you don’t need public speaking training, you give speeches all the time.  Don’t confuse doing a lot of something with being good at it.  I know, I know… after the event, everyone at the office said you did a great job.  That’s because they are used to hearing mediocre speeches.

If you become a more dynamic speaker, you will raise more money for your organization.  You will gain credibility with others.  You will improve your career.  No, I’m not overpromising.  The ability to speak eloquently in public is probably the most important skill a professional can have.

You’ll learn more than how to speak well.  You will also learn how to listen.

I recently rejoin Toastmasters after taking a few years off.  There are clubs that meet in the morning, lunch, or evening on any day of the week.  Find a club that fits your schedule and check it out.

Posted in Communication

3 Responses

  1. Lauren

    Right on Karen! 🙂

    Great post and I agree, more fundraisers (and CEOs!) should be utilizing the valuable program that is Toastmasters.

    I look forward to hearing more about your recent TM experiences.

  2. Ron

    I could not have said that better myself. I also joined Toastmasters at a very young age. Nothing has advanced my career more than what I learned in the next 24 years in Toastmasters.

  3. Karen Climer

    Thank you Ron and Lauren for your comments. It’s very rare to run across someone who has participated in Toastmasters and does not have great reviews like the two of you have. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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