I’ve always believed sharing what’s important to you is one of the most meaningful things you can do with others, and it’s invigorating to see them do the same. Becoming a public speaker feels a bit like telling the truth about yourself and what you love. To me, this means telling the story of my life and hoping my experiences can inspire, comfort, or bring happiness to others.
I decided to pursue public speaking this past fall when I was assessing the direction of my business. I knew I wanted to change some things, better connect with my clients, and help other business owners; the idea of speaking in front of a group got me really excited. When I look back I realize I was always interested in public speaking: Toastmasters, LGBT+ advocacy groups, giving toasts at family events, the thrill of college presentations. There was an electric current I felt when telling my truth in front of others.
Developing my talks has been one of the harder parts of this process. I honestly thought the words would just tumble out and make sense. I wanted to speak from the heart but in order to be successful and have impact, I’ve learned I need a beginning, middle and end, and all of it has to flow sensibly or I won’t reach my audiences. The other difficult piece has been feeling like an imposter in front of other professionals who do what I do, or may have more experience than I do. One of the best questions Speaker Sisterhood’s Angela asked me before my first speaking gig was, “What else do you need to know?” It really made me think about whether or not I needed any more information in order to help others. The answer was no, I just needed to start somewhere in order to figure out what came next.
Wanting to be a better speaker led me to the Speaker Sisterhood, which has connected me with a community of women who are just as passionate as I am. Twice a month we get together to try out new techniques, uncover our stories, steady our nerves, and find our voices. The first time I spoke at Speaker Sisterhood I was solid as a rock. There was no shake to my hands and my heart kept its normal beat. I knew I was in the right place. I’m still not sure exactly where this is all going to lead, but I keep asking people if I can speak at their club, chamber, or organization and some say yes, to my delight, and others say no. I continue to interview creative professionals to understand the needs of my audiences, and in return I have discovered so much about myself that I never expected to learn. It has been a journey of self discovery and professional growth and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
Sandra Costello is an award-winning photographer, entrepreneur, and the kind of cheerleader all small business owners want by their side. Always positive and ready to inspire. You can find her at www.sandralovesyou.com, or on Instagram @bravemoments.