I used to do a lot more public speaking than I do these days. I mean, I teach one class a week... but while that's speaking, and it's kinda public... it's not really the same. Back when I was in cellular land, and then in legal marketing, I was probably standing up in front of an audience at least three or four times a year. Now? Well... it's been awhile. I've done a couple small talks related to my day gig, but nothing much besides that.
Partly, it's priorities, eh? Kid, day job, teaching, writing... not much time. But partly, I think, it's not having access to a community of folks who are interested in speaking.
A few years back, I connected with some online writing groups, and just having a place to "be about that" was immensely helpful. I knew anyone I met through those sites would be interested in writing, and that we could connect based on the specific set of skills and interests that almost always go with that passion.
I'm pleased to report that I've found such a spot for the public speaking side of my brain, too. It's an online social networking hub that connects speakers to each other, and to those who need their services. It's called SpeakerSite.
I signed up after a friend pointed me to the site, filled out a detailed profile, joined a couple groups, and kept an eye on the message boards and open calls. It's fun to see what's going on around town, and how many people are "out there," willing to speak on such a wide variety of subjects.
About a month after joining, I got an email from somebody who found me through the site. She was looking for a speaker to talk to graduating design students about the job market; both some "how to" stuff, and some positive, "it's not all gloom" inspirational stuff. We connected by phone, chatted for a bit about the details, and -- short story even shorter -- it worked out. So now, for the first time in about five years, I've got a paid speaking gig on a topic I really enjoy.
I don't think public speaking is ever what I'm going to do for a living; same for teaching and, probably, for writing (except inasmuch as I write marketing stuff for the day gig). They are both things that I really enjoy, however, and having outlets and opportunities for both is truly a blessing.
Thank you, SpeakerSite! It's great to have somewhere helpful and well organized to connect with this part of my life.