An inspirational boss and a supportive Toastmasters group gave Matt Taylor the confidence to take up public speaking professionally and now he is training others in the field.
What’s your story?
I have lived in GA for most of my life. I graduated from the University of Georgia and went through AFROTC to become a commissioned officer in the Air Force. It was here where I was first exposed to public speaking and understood the importance of it. When I got out of the military and moved back to GA, I got a job with the State of Georgia. The commissioner who hired me was incredibly charismatic and when he was spoke, people listened. This inspired me to be a public speaker. The Toastmasters work club showed me the way!
What excites you most about your industry?
My industry is public speaking. Public speaking is not an easy endeavor which is why so many people do not want to undertake it. I love the challenge of public speaking! Standing in front of a group, ready to deliver my speech excites me tremendously. I firmly believe anybody can be a public speaker, you just need the right training and guidance. We cannot control the butterflies in the stomach but we can make them fly in one direction. As a result of the pandemic, virtual/hybrid meetings are much more common now. These options help build up public speaking.
What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Public speaking is an art you have to work at. Just because you deliver one really good speech or presentation, you can not sit back and relax, thinking you are a great speaker and nothing will change. If you do not use it, you will lose it. Even if you do not have a speech or presentation coming up, you must remain active and keep up your speaking skills so you will not get rusty. The more you practice and take on speaking challenges, you will develop a style of speaking which adds tremendously to one’s level of confidence.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
You must be patient with yourself and take feedback well. Do not compare yourself with other people speaking. Learn from others who speak but incorporate this information into your profile as a speaker and nobody else’s. Continue practicing as a speaker because if you do not use it, you will lose it. I have been guilty of taking a break from speaking and when it was time for me to deliver a speech, I felt very rusty delivering it. Lastly, give yourself plenty of time to prepare your speech or presentation and do not wait to the last minute!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Take your time when speaking and make sure you slow down when delivering. I have a tendency to speak fast, especially when I am nervous. In my job with the State of Georgia, I have to deliver presentations to executive leadership. One time after a presentation, my boss told me I was speaking too quickly and I need to slow down. When I practiced for the next presentation, I made sure I incorporated this recommendation. I realized speaking slower allows me to emphasize the points that are paramount to get across to leadership.
Who inspires you?
My boss inspires me because whenever I see him present to leadership, his style is very engaging and he has a very calm demeanor when communicating. More than once I compliment him on this; but he tells me he is nervous when speaking and does not like to speak but will do it as it is required. This encourages me to keep on with my public speaking because despite my nervousness, I enjoy speaking! Also, I learn from people in Toastmasters. We recently had our annual district conference that included competitions where I got to see many people speak.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
In my recent annual district Toastmasters conference, one of the keynote speakers had an amazing story. She is from India and moved to the United States a little more than 10 years ago to pursue college. During her journey through education she ended up with a PhD but discovered Toastmasters which give her the opportunity to develop her public speaking. During her speech I felt her delivery so simple yet very impactful. This address gave me a great boost of confidence because I believe I have a great story to tell which can make me an effective keynote speaker too.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would not wait to pursue public speaking professionally. I was told early on that I have a gift for public speaking. With the success I gained in my job and my Toastmasters club, I felt it was enough and did not see the need to pursue anything else. Time is a gift we all have but it is a finite gift and not a renewable resource. Time must be used well and we must constantly push ourselves to get to that next level in what we do. I encourage people in my local Toastmasters to do this.
How do you unwind?
I strive to read 50 pages a day of a book I read specifically for pleasure. On the day I am doing a speech or presentation, I make sure to spend at least one hour before the event doing something different so I take my mind off the event. I will do my pleasure reading so when I do my speech or presentation, my mind is rested and ready to go. In the evening or on a day off, i enjoy catching up on TV shows I have recorded which include Jeopardy, Magnum P.I., and Law and Order.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?
At my sister’s wedding in September of 2021, I did two readings during the ceremony. When the ceremony concluded I received compliments from people while we exited the church. The compliment that stuck with me was from one of my aunts. She said there is something very engaging with my voice and I may want to consider a career along those lines because I have an amazing gift. This moment was the spark that lit my desire to pursue public speaking as a profession.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Call Me Ted by Bill Burke and Ted Turner. This book is Ted Turner’s autobiography. Ted Turner has a very inspiring story to tell. Even though he inherited his father’s advertising business, he had to work very hard to retain clients and get clients back because his father’s drinking caused the business to suffer. Ted Turner expanded his business into ventures that he was passionate about. I cannot think of a better reason to pursue public speaking because it is an industry I absolutely love!
Shameless plug for your business:
Anyone can become a public speaker. One just needs the right guidance and I can tell you everything you need to know. There is no doubt public speaking is a challenge; however, if you go by the information I provide you, I can guarantee you will develop a confidence to present to a group of any size. I used to run from public speaking as a kid. I hated speaking in front of a classroom. If I can be a successful speaker, anybody can. The information I provide is based on life lessons.
How can people connect with you?
My e-mail is email@example.com.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.