The best speakers are not born, they learn, practice, and be
David A. Hughes – icandowords
Often I’m asked how did I develop my speaking and leadership skills, and how long did it take me to reach the level I’m at, and what are the secrets.
My journey to where I’m at has been a long one starting in 1986 and attending Toastmasters has polished the raw skills I had, and now having overcome nervousness, I can confidently engage an audience, with speeches, workshops and seminars. I can also influence others to follow my lead.
A friend once told me that ‘the worst speech you ever give will be better than the one you never give’, and this spurred me on to practice often. Some say, that public speaking is so difficult, yet I find it’s just like telling a story or having a conversation with a group. Let’s face it, as a speaker and presenter, if you want to engage an audience, then it’s important to be credible, be authentic and have a logical structure to your speech or presentation.
The Rhetoricians used Ethos, Pathos and Logos, and if you were to research and practice these three disciplines of a good speech or presentation, you too could be a fine speaker and or presenter.
You have the potential to be a fine speaker, and with knowledge, practice and confidence you might be surprised at how good at it you could be. There are no secrets.
Choose one word only from each group above and place them together into a sentence, and watch the reaction, as your listeners applaud your command of superb business language, even though it’s absolute nonsense.
Some years ago, I showed the BWG to a retiring President of a NGO, and he asked me to write his Retirement Speech and include some of these groups of words. The applause he received at the end of his speech was deafening, with calls of Hear, Hear, throughout, and neither of us revealed that he was speaking gobbledygook at times.
A Sample of part of the NGO Presidents’ speech:
“In my 18 year service with this wonderful organisation, I set out to improve service to our clients by introducing ‘Integrated Monitored Flexibility’ which ensured quality service in a timely manner.
I also encouraged that all staff be trained in ‘Balanced Logistical Programming’, thus ensuring upskilling for all, and after this our organisation became the model of excellence for many of our allied NGO’s, who delivered a similar top quality service, through the implementation of ‘Synchronised Third-generation Mobility.”
He received a Standing Ovation.
Try it now, have fun, and perhaps extend your vocabulary as well
Before today, whenever I searched for a solution to a problem, difficulty or challenge, I would arrive at the solution with a mindset developed or learned from family, Teachers. Leaders, and from personal experience.
After I read Carole Dweck’s ‘mindset’ I realized that my mindset is on a spectrum; fixed at times, growth at times, and somewhere in between at other times.
Now I am concentrating on a growth mindset journey because mindset matters to me.
When I was a child learning my times tables I knew that 5 * 5 = 25 and that was fixed in my brain. When I was a teenager, I knew I could write well, and I did write well. As an employee I worked hard, and as an aged pensioner, as I am today, I receive and am grateful for the benefits.
I had a fortunate life and was satisfied with all of it until I realised it, that everything I knew before this moment, is history, and that I can’t do today’s business with yesterday’s thinking.
For example, when I learned my times table at primary school, I learned that 5 * 5 = 25. Today however, I understand that there are other formulae for reach the number 25. There is 4 * 5 + 5, or 2 * 10 + 5 * 1, or 6 * 3 + 7, and I started writing down all the different solutions to arrive at 25.
Eighty combinations in and I had lots of fun while also learning about myself.
Now I am on the growth mindset journey. Those things, I do well, others not so well, and I realise there are triggers, thoughts and ideas that create within me a need to act, behave and respond the way I do, or more correct to say, I did.
Other things have changed too. Today instead of only using my laptop to produce an outline for a workshop I am putting together, I used my fountain pen, coloured pencils and post-it notes, and really enjoyed the process, even though it took longer than the way I may have done it in the past.
I also will keep on doing this and learn as I go about what makes me tick, what pleases me and what I have fun doing. I will continue to reflect and challenge myself to make my time
Bigger, better, and much more bountiful, so you my family, friends and toastmaster colleagues and guests can reconsider everything you know or believe about me before now.
Visit in your mind and reconsider everything you liked or disliked about me and everything you may have felt about me and now perhaps, see me in a unique way, for the past is exactly, the future is unpredictable, and right now, in this moment, this time, being all we have together, know that I am starting at the point of a journey. Of discovery and exploration; and a journey of engaging deeply and effectively in a learning process.
There is no set end date to my journey. Just, step by step learning, innovating, and collaborating to arrive at a different me.
Last night and early into this morning I joined a Zoom meeting with very good trusted professional speaker friend Yogesh, and met some of his articulate and interesting professional team, including a physicist, a Tony Robbins Certified Coach, and a couple of Life Coaches, who are offering a very reasonably priced 90 Day ‘quantum transformation coaching’ course, which I believe is ideal for anyone wanting to break in to the coaching industry.
I am a Distinguished Toastmaster, communications coach and workshop presenter and use many of the tools offered in the course, in my own everyday small business ‘I Can Do Words’, which I’ve run for 11 years now. My business model, based on Servant Leadership is unique to me, and I am sufficiently well rewarded for my efforts. My main rewards are intrinsic, though I have been blessed to travel widely, presenting both paid and pro bono workshops to audiences in India, Malaysia, UAE, NZ, UK and here in Australia.
We Serve Ourselves Best When We Serve Others
David A Hughes
Consuming we are told is critical for our economy, though connection, giving and sharing, is way more important for our society.
David A Hughes
When Covid and the pandemic are over, and it is safe for me to travel far again, hopefully we can share again, those moments of delight, growth and wonder, once more. Until then, Stay Well, stay Safe and enjoy each moment as it arrives.
In 1986 when I first joined Toastmasters at Frankston Toastmasters Club, I didn’t have any aspirations other than improve my verbal communication, because I spoke much too quickly.
I was a manager in Telecom Personnel at the time, and my senior branch manager suggested that Toastmasters may help me to speak more slowly and with more clarity. He told me Toastmasters was a public speaking organisation, where members practiced, received feedback and with time could become excellent communicators.
With his encouragement, and some trepidation, I visited Frankston Toastmasters Club in July that year and was warmly welcomed. I was allocated a mentor- Bill W-who saw my potential, freely shared his knowledge and convinced me that with time, commitment and regular practice, i could become an excellent communicator and leader.
I stayed at Frankston Club for seven years and during that time, competed in speaking contests, served as a club officer, was an area governor and servant leader. In 1992 I left Toastmasters to raise a family.
After a long, long break, and having retired from the paid workforce and started my own businesses, I returned to Toastmasters in July 2008, and can attest that Bill W. was right, for in the past 13 years years I have studied, learned, practiced and presented speeches, workshops, and keynotes for Toastmasters and businesses in Australia, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, India, New Zealand, and the UAE.
Today, I am a grateful speaker, author and servant leader, fully enjoying and embracing quality friends, family and speaking opportunities made possible because a manager and mentor saw my potential all those years ago.
In the past few years, and more particularly in the past twelve months I have reflected on my ‘Six O Clock’ position. “Check Six’ refers to making sure I have situational awareness and know what or who is behind me that could bring me down. Used militarily, when a fighter pilot tells their wingman to “Check Six,” it means to have a look behind you, to see and avoid any threats.
Since a D73 Conference, when I accidentally suffered the first of three really bad falls, hospitalising me and threatening me in this way, I have become more aware of my own fragility, and have needed to create a larger space around me, especially when in a group, for fear of being injured or indeed, injuring others, again.
It is as Analogous to personal space, as it is to all group and organisation situations.
In 1972, Virginia Satir, A family therapist, released her important book titled ‘Peoplemaking, a beautifully readable and good humoured book which described people types, and how they behave in families. It follows therefore if these types are in families, then they are also in organisations, groups, and teams.
She identified five types. Blamer, Distractor, Computer, Placator, and Leveler. Some will know these as the Satir categories, or patterns of communication.
I’d like to believe my default type is Leveler, though I know, that throughout my time, I have moved in and out of all of these, at one time or another, depending on the situation. So now I try hard to focus on only being a Leveler. It isn’t easy and I am not there yet, though doing my best to get there.
In any communication between two or more people, there is a lot going on besides dialogue. There are five sensory inputs, of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling. (In NLP you will know these as visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory, and olfactory), our thoughts while in communication, our responses to the communication, and, our feelings, before, during and after the communication.
All of these are in the mix, and in any human contact situation, some or all come into play.
If your default is blaming – it can evoke fear, and if I evoke your fear, you might obey me.
If your default is distracting – it can evoke longing for fun, and if I evoke your longing for fun, you might tolerate me.
If your default is Computing – it can evoke envy, and if I evoke your envy, you might ally with me.
If your default is Placating – it can evoke guilt, and if I evoke your guilt, you might spare me. In none of these defaults though can you be loved, or trusted, which in the final analysis, is what makes growth producing relationships.
However, if the default is Leveling – it can evoke trust, and if I can evoke your trust, you will trust me, thus avoiding fear, envy, guilt, and/or the need to only tolerate me. We can then have some fun times in a growth relationship, and drop it into any organisation, and watch as the ripple effect, affects and effects all.
Footnote: Virginia Satir, was on of three therapists who collaborated with Bandler & Grinder, to refine Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
The other two therapists were Fritz Perls (Gestalt therapy) and Milton Erickson. (Hypno-therapy)
What happened is a blank to me. I remember arriving home, climbing the steps, and being on the ground, bleeding, in pain and not able to lift myself. The space between is a blank.
“being young, tall and handsome, is a blessed gift, but being aged, mature and mobile, is a work of art”
Luckily, I had my phone and the presence of mind to realise I was in a difficult situation, and called my son, who organised an ambulance and took care of everything until I was installed in the hospital. That was at near midnight on 19th February 2022.
It’s been a long haul. I fractured my knee, that night, and after spending the next 17 days in hospital and in Rehab I was discharged from Rehab on 8th March, only to fall late that evening and break my back. More hospital, Rehab, Weekly Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, and finally, today, just three weeks before my 78th Birthday, I can sit without pain, shower without mobility aids, climb stairs without a stick, and stand for more than 30 minutes without needing to sit down.
The relief I feel, that finally I am mobile again, is the best tonic I could receive. 2022 has not been my best year, and I wish it hadn’t happened, however, I have learned that nothing is as important as remaining healthy, fit and as active as possible.
I have learned also, that I am no spring chicken anymore, and as some wag, once said, “being young, tall and handsome, is a blessed gift, but being aged, mature and mobile, is a work of art”
I’ve come a long way in nine months, and am way-more aware now of my abilities, my surroundings and my challenges. So, you will probably see less of me on the physical circuit, see less of me at outdoor events, and less of me travelling to faraway places.
I am not becoming a recluse, nor did I ever feel attracted to a monk’s life, though I am spending my time, doing what I enjoy most, being closer to home.
I have my music, my books, my home and my family and friends. With these I also have my priorities right. Luckily, I can still ‘Zoom’ around the Toastmasters’ and other virtual worlds, which I will continue to do, as long as I am able. For now though I am concentrating on my ‘one day at a time’ routine, of rest, work and a lot less play.
I am beat, though I have had a wonderful day. Rising at 9.00 am today after spending two hours writing and editing 30 pages late into Saturday night and early Sunday Morning, I was finally up and about.
Coffee, and toast. Shower, Check pantry and fridge, and make my shopping list, and head out to explore my world.
Drove down to Tooradin, it isn’t far, just 40kms from home. Surprised I was though to notice fuel prices had jumped. I filled my car on Friday morning at Tooradin and it was $1.77 per litre. Today at the same Service Station it was $2.12 per litre. Must be a holiday coming up. Further up the Tooradin-Baxter Road, In Pearcedale, it was $1.79 per litre.
The sun was shining, weather was warmer, and lots of people in cafes.
I spent some time down by the water, then into my favourite discount book shop looking for reading treasures. I love books and reading.
Leaving Tooradin, drove back to Frankston. The roads are in need of repair, with potholes and water over the road in places. The incessant rain over the past few days has been unkind to the tarmac.
Back in Frankston, I lunches at sushi sushi on three portions of roasted tuna and cucumber, accompanied by orange juice. Then into Aldi for food supplies. From there to the fruit and veg store for all my favourites, and a couple of punnets each of strawberries and blueberries for garnishing my muesli each morning.
Essential shopping completed, I browsed in some clothes shops, though didn’t give way to temptation.
Then a quick trip to chemist warehouse for vitamin D3, to strengthen my bones, after discovering after my recent bone breaking accidents, that I have osteoporosis, and require six-monthly injections of ‘prolia’ with the second one tomorrow at 11.00 am.
Arriving home at 4.00pm, stores all the shopping, made a coffee, wearily sat on my couch, switched on the TV and started to watch ‘Śtep’ a documentary about the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. Very interesting too.
Then, posed Question 99, of the 100 Day Quiz, I established as an idea, 99 days ago. Wow! Where did the time go, so quickly?
Now it is 5.50 pm, and I am warm, comfy and pleasantly weary. in an hour I will prepare my evening meal, read my new book purchases, write a few more pages, watch some T20 Cricket, then fall into bed, and switch out the lights on what has been a full and most enjoyable day.
Maybe while sleeping, I will have pleasant dreams about all the people, lives, adventures and marvellous experiences, I have been fortunate to enjoy, in what I consider to be my wonderful life, and not at all like the sadness contained in the opening lines of this Jack Clement song.
I could have a mansion, that is higher than the trees, I could have all the gifts I want and never ask please. I could fly to Paris, oh, its at my beck and call. Why do I go through life, with nothing at all? But when I dream, I dream of you. Maybe some day, you will come true.
Growing up as a child I was one of five siblings in a fine Welsh family of seven. Life in Rhosllanerchrugog, Near Wrexham until I was five years old was a lot of fun or so I am told, and as the first born son, to Bill and Margaret Hughes, I was a little spoiled, especially by my Grandma Harriet.
When in 1949, our family move to Saltney, in Flintshire.
Here we lived in a beautiful semi-detached double storey house, with lovely rooms and a very much lovelier garden. The picture below of me, my older sister Jackie, and little brother Michael, with his puppy, Rusty, was taken in the garden when I was 9 years old. Growing up here was idyllic. Sure it was just a few years after WWII, and we were on rations until 1953 due to food and other material shortages, but I don’t ever remember going hungry.
I went to St. Anthony’s RC School, and later to St. Bede’s RC Secondary School. By all accounts I was a good student, and excelled at arithmetic, and English Literature. I was a boy soprano and loved singing. I also was a very good reader and devoured books of all genres. We had an Encyclopedia set of ‘The World of The Children’ and were encouraged by mum and dad to read daily. This may explain my interest in reading still, and especially writing.
As a teenager, I was like most of my friends, and left school at aged 15, started an apprenticeship in the printing Industry and worked 44 hour weeks for little pay, though managed to enjoy whatever was left after contributing to the family budget. It was enough though to go to movies, treat our girlfriends and when I was 18, a couple of pints at the ‘Corner Pin’ local pub.
In 1969, having an urge to see more of Britain, I left the printing Industry and joined PYE Tmc, as a wireman Installer and travelled the length and breadth of the UK, installing equipment in Telephone Exchanges. Places I had only seen on maps became my workplaces, and adventure places. During the five years I did this, I met my wife to be in Edinburgh, Scotland, married after seven short months, and spent the next 18 idyllic years with my soul mate Nancy, living, loving and travelling. In 1991 we adopted our gorgeous boy Oscar, and for the next 24 years were as happy as any family could be, until sadly Nancy died in 2015, leaving me and Oscar, now a family of two.
Oscar is 35 now, has his own home and recently became engaged to his beautiful partner Katrina. He will now begin the next generation of the Hughes clan, and I am sure his life will be as idyllic as that which me and his mum enjoyed for so long.
Now, today, after growing in a family of seven, all those years ago in my beloved Wales, meeting the love of my life in Scotland in 1971, marrying and leaving my parents home and siblings to migrate across the world, becoming a smaller family of two; and in 1991 having Oscar add to our family to make three, Nancy has passed, Oscar is starting on his own family journey, and I now live alone with Nessa, our faithful pet and my memories.
I was a child who sometimes felt alone, and am now an older man who never feels lonely. For I have my memories, my mates, and my minder.
The slodeldip is a service product that many need yet have little idea what it is. Whether introvert, extravert or ambivert, a slodeldip is the best tool you can have in your toolbox
David a Hughes
When I was first introduced to the slodeldip, I was sitting in a training room in 1984, listening to a high performing strategic communications consultant, from Arthur Anderson and Co, I believe they are now known as Accenture. The consultant (let’s call him Greg) was one of a team, engaged by Telecom Australia, to change the fixed mindsets of many, and introduce us to a growth mindset, hopefully to take us from where we were, to where we needed to be. It was fascinating, urgent and compelling.
Greg, smiled, moved to the front of the stage, thrust out his open handed arms, and in a clear and strong voice said “Today we are going to practice having fun, connecting and changing our minds.’ Greg continued “It will happen to us or through us, and it is best when it happens through us.”
He then asked a question. Who can tell me what a slodeldip is?
Today, 38 years since I first learned about slodeldips, I share all I know about them with corporates, coachees and mentees, whenever and wherever I am.
From humble beginnings in a small village, to migrating to Australia in 1973, and now as a world travelling writer, speaker and storyteller, I am grateful to all the consultants and storytellers who inserted the spark, which ignited the flame, which lit up the passion I feel, when sharing the slodeldips with my audience.
Whether I am in ‘Wales – the land of my fathers’, at home in Australia, or travelling in far off places; I keep the slodeldip with me. Like all essential tools, I keep it clean, sharp and ever-ready to gift to my connections.
For a few years now, I haven’t welcomed this particular week in August and have remained quiet, sad and yes, sullen at different times. This year however I am welcoming it. In four days it will be six (6) months since I fell and broke my knee and then a month later, fell and broke my back.
In this time from February 19 to today I have had lots of alone time, and been isolated from the life I lived prior.
My recovery and the marvellous care I have received from specialists, GP’s, Neuro Surgeons, nurses and my marvellous physiotherapy team, has been long and step-by-step. The additional services I have received from in home carers and my dear near neighbours, has helped enormously, and the love from my son Oscar and his delightful partner-now fiancée- Katrina, and our little princess, Nessa has taught me much.
Patience, tolerance and empathy are now foremost in my mind. I can change, and am determined now to be the person I wish to be going forward.
Driving back from my local supermarket a few minutes ago, I was listening to Steve Winwood’s ‘Back in the High Life Again’ and the words resonated with me.
“It used to seem to me that my life ran on too fast
And I had to take it slowly just to make the good parts last
But when you’re born to run it’s so hard to just slow down
So don’t be surprised to see me back in that bright part of town
I’ll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
I’ll be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched me once will smile and take me in
And I’ll drink and dance with one hand free
Let the world back into me and oh I’ll be a sight to see
Back in the high life again. (With Thanks to Steve Winwood)”
Here’s to the future and to all who put all the pieces of me, back together again, only, in what I believe will be a much better version.”
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”
It happens to us or through us, and is inevitable through time. It is CHANGE!, and for me change has been a fascinating, exciting and sometimes wild ride, with lots of learning, unlearning and relearning, to arrive at where I am today.
My first job after leaving secondary school at age 15, was an apprentice printing compositor, and then City & Guilds Certificated tradesman for four years from 1959-1969, before leaving the trade. The wages were poor, although average for the times, and I learned a lot of useful and valuable skills.
CAREER 2 – Leaving the printing trade, I had four other careers: in Telecommunications as a semi-skilled wireman-installer, for PYE-TMC in the UK from 1969-1973, where I travelled throughout the UK, installing channel-carrier equipment in Telephone Exchanges, big and small. Here I learned about coax-cabling, power, and soldering. useful skills for the future, perhaps.
CAREER 3 – In 1973 I migrated to Australia and joined Telecom Australia as a base-level clerical assistant, in the Fault Despatch Centre, and over the next 18 years held many positions through promotion, and finished as a Personnel Manager in the HR Department. What I learned in Telecom was invaluable.
CAREER 4 – I left Telecom in 1991 and set up an antiques and collectables business, which taught me much, though at the time didn’t support me and my family as I had hoped, so closed my shop after five years in 1996, and worked part-time as a support worker with my supervisor wife in a family group home for 6 ‘out of home in care children.” in a welfare agency. Here I learned a huge amount about community care, children in care, and the not-for-profit sector. I also did relief work at many agencies across the sector.
Career 5 – In 2000, I was head-hunted to work as a respite worker and then holiday Team Leader for one of the large Mental Health Agencies and remained with them for eight years, until 2008, when I retired completely from the paid workforce.
The knowledge, skills and mindset I developed throughout my several and varied careers, prepared me well for my world, afforded me a comfortable lifestyle, equipped me with excellent and effective communication and leadership skills, clarified my self awareness, and enhanced my comprehensive knowledge base on many subjects. I also developed a ‘can do’ attitude to adapt, adopt, and accentuate the positive in all I do, while confidently facing the future with supreme 0ptimism.
Change happened to me or through me, and I’m pleased with the results.