speak with impact

What Does a Toll Booth Have to Do with Public Speaking?

On Friday I was driving home from a coaching assignment in New Jersey. I was on the Garden State Parkway which has a number of toll booths. At the second toll booth, I extended my hand and gave the toll collector a dollar. She waived me on. I remained there not understanding. She said, "The person before you prepaid your toll." I was surprised. It was so unexpected that I couldn't process it at first. Why me? I tried to figure out through the Law of Attraction what was different this particular day that I had attracted such positive energy. All I knew is that I felt good. I was flying high. It was only a dollar but it wasn't about money. It was about the gift. It was about feeling special. The feeling lasted over the weekend as I called friends to tell them about this random act of kindness.

It got me thinking about what I teach in my speaking and communication seminars.

It's the little things that make the greatest impact.

Speakers overwhelm themselves trying to make bold changes. They think they have to completely remake themselves and achieve the equivalent in a Ph.D in Public Speaking. All it takes to make an impact is the little things-an extended pause, holding eye contact a bit longer, expanding a gesture, using an analogy, telling a personal story, standing up straight, breathing before you speak, holding a positive image before your presentation, bringing your intonation downward at the end of a sentence, smiling.

These are simple, little things that when activated, can make a big impact on the audience. The impact of my experience at the toll booth was worth so much more than a dollar. Don't discount small steps. You never know the affect they will have on not only you but your audience.