I’m a big fan of false deadlines — milestones that force you to complete part or all of a task before its scheduled completion date. When I have a big project, the first thing I do is set a date to complete it. I then go through the process I teach in my goal setting workshop to create tasks and subtasks. But whenever possible, I’ll give myself a false deadline so that I ensure I stay on target. It can be as simple as sending a draft of a piece of writing to a friend to critique or as complex as testing out a new part of a talk on a safe audience.

Back when I first started out as a professional speaker, I was still active in Toastmasters. Whenever I’d have a big speaking event planned, I’d sign up for a speech at my club a month or so prior to it. This helped me in two ways. First, it forced me to complete either all or part of the speech ahead of time. Second, I was fortunate enough to belong to a club where I got both useful and effective feedback.

These days we’re all juggling work, family and other aspects of life so it can be tempting to allow a deadline to slip. You probably know the feeling: you have three months to do something that requires about five hours of your time and before you know it, you have only a week left to get it done. We’re all human so it’s in our nature to not get to a task until it becomes urgent — after all, life seems to always hammer us with urgent tasks. And don’t forget the temptation of having a little “me” time every now and then.

So if you’re a professional speaker and wondering if Toastmasters can still help you, the answer is “yes.” No matter how good a speaker you are, there’s always something helpful about giving a speech to a group of people that know a thing or two about speaking. And even if your local club isn’t that fantastic, at the very least you can use it as a false deadline.

How Toastmasters Can Help Professional Speakers
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One thought on “How Toastmasters Can Help Professional Speakers

  • December 3, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Great advice here on getting things done, James.

    “The time needed to get things done expands to meet the deadline.” (Think April 15th!)

    Setting “premature deadlines gets the tasks done earlier – and that’s a good thing!

    Thanks for the Post!

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