I remember my very first on-stage speaking engagement. I was in junior high. I was the slightly socially awkward student often thought of as “teacher’s pet” because I never broke the rules. I was scared to think outside the box and did everything by the book. So, it was a big leap for a non-singer to commit to singing a very well-known song on stage as the opening to the speech. I was in a public speaking competition and I had to perform for a whopping eight minutes.
I started by singing The McDonald’s Menu Song. Yup... that one. I recited the entire McDonald’s menu and proceeded to talk about advertising. It was flawless. I didn’t win the competition, but I did receive high praise for the recitation of the menu. And I learned that I liked being on stage talking to an audience.
That first speaking gig led me to join the debate club in high school. I wasn't very good at the official game of debate, but I did train myself to stop saying "um" and "ah" when I needed a pause. During that time, I also entered other local competitions requiring speeches, something others who fear public speaking would not dare attempt.
In Grade 11 I beat out two good friends to win a trip to Ottawa for a Citizenship Forum by arguing the best ambassador Canada had at the time was, in fact, not our Prime Minister Brian Mulroney but Bryan Adams, the singer.
I went into Public Relations at Mount Saint Vincent University because I thought it was a legitimate way to start a speaking career. And while it’s been a bit roundabout, I guess I was right.
My Bachelor of Public Relations nurtured my love of communications and honed my writing skills. I gave presentations and persuasive speeches and went on to have a career in fundraising and event management for many years.
In 2011 I left the fundraising world for the second - and last - time to jump into entrepreneurship with two feet, believing deep down in my soul that social media was the next big thing. Immediately understanding social media was a communications platform, I realized I’d found my calling and I began to share the power of social media with everyone.
Whether I’m writing a post for my own company, or I’m consulting with a client, my first thought is always, “Is this useful to the audience?” Goal number one is always to be useful.
I admit, when I opened my consultancy, Twirp Communications Inc., in 2011, I made a lot of mistakes. I focused on the wrong things, followed the wrong advice, and even used some sketchy promotional tactics. And it was all because I thought I needed to "fit in" with all the other social media consultants out there.
It’s much easier to be, say and do things that are authentic.
When I speak, it’s from the heart and filtered by my pragmatic mind. I inspire small business owners to share their stories on social media in a way that feels authentic to them. I share the rules and show them when to break them!
Most importantly I encourage people to start where they are and grow. Nobody is perfect. Perfection is unattainable and the pursuit of it holds people back from being their true selves.
I believe we are all imperfect beings and I encourage audiences to get started and learn by doing. I believe in being #Flawsome.