Dale Carnegie Course: Final Week

This is part of a series on the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Course.

The final week of the course found us all presenting one last time. The twist this time around was that the audience contained the entire class, as well as any guests they had invited. Not everyone brought a guest, but I’d estimate that slightly over half did. I asked my wonderful other half, A, to come along. Happily, she did.

We each took turns, getting up and talking to a room of about 40 or so people about a major benefit of the course. All the weeks of learning how to structure a talk came into play. We all had our anecdotes, our own story to tell. The course manual said we should focus on our own breakthroughs and try to inspire others.

The talks were all good. Some of them were great. Some people had heart-rending stories of personal achievement. Some people simply reflected on what they’d learned. I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about until I got up to speak. I can’t really remember it now.

I have never before given a talk as good as the one I gave to that audience. Somehow, it all just clicked together. I owned the stage. I strode confidently, not riveted to the spot, nor nervously twitching about. I could feel the audience listening. I didn’t rush my words, I took time to say what I wanted to say. I paused for effect. I involved the audience, making specific eye contact with people as I mentioned them, as I spoke about them. I told a story with a beginning, middle and end. I covered what I wanted to, and then I stopped. I was nervous the whole time, but I didn’t let it get in my way.

It felt awesome.

After all the talks, Gary, the course coordinator, asked our guests if they would like to comment. There were parents, bosses, partners and friends, and they all had encouraging and pleasant things to say. Some mentioned that they had noticed the changes in their friend/partner/colleague throughout the course. Some simply said how proud they were. Some mentioned how everyone had spoken well.

This is part of a series on the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Course.

While our guests had cake and cups of tea, the class filled out our feedback sheets and other bits of paperwork. We also voted for one last time: for the person we felt best embodied the intent of the course. I hadn’t noticed in the course book that we would be voting this week, so I hadn’t been thinking about it until just then. I voted for one of the girls who had been terrified of speaking in front of a group back in week 1, but who had gotten up and spoken well in front of strangers for a couple of minutes. Without the course, she wouldn’t have been able to do that, so I thought she would be a worthy winner.

After our tea break, we had a little presentation ceremony for certificates of completion. Everyone walked up and got a framed certificate. Then we learned who was to win the Dale Carnegie Course Highest Award for Achievement.

It was me.

I was shocked. Pleased certainly, but mostly shocked, I think. I was expecting someone who had made awesome progress to win, someone who had started out with utter stage fright. Someone other than me. And yet, I know that my performance was worthy. To say otherwise would be to insult the intelligence of my classmates who voted for me. I know what it feels like, now, to give a great talk and to have it recognised as such. I look forward to doing it again.

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  1. Can you provide any insight for the sessions? Im having trouble deciding what to speak about?

  2. Anything you’ve been asked about three or four times would be a good topic.
    Put something of yourself into what you talk about; it helps you to keep the energy level high, and your interest and passion show through, which keeps people interested.

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