An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Know your material. Don’t try to “wing-it” You’ve got to know the points, stories, examples, so well that if something unexpected happens, like you lose your slides or note, that you can still be impactful.
At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience.
As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Bethany Clemenson.
Bethany Clemenson is a speaker, leadership coach, registered nurse, and author of Ditching the Dream. After realizing she was living a life she was taught to want instead of the one she really wanted, Bethany left her corporate job in senior living, and she and her family sold almost everything they owned, bought a motorhome, and traveled the US on an adventure designed by their teens. She now supports others on their journey to let go of what they were taught to believe and want for their lives, and instead, decide to live out what they truly desire.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois. My parents worked hard to support our family. I am the oldest of two. I have one sister who is seven years younger than me. When I was younger we lived in a trailer and then one day in sixth grade, I remember coming home to see the trailer sitting off our property and a doublewide trailer in its place. All my basic needs were met and I was loved but I watched my parents struggle financially to have nicer things. I always wanted more but remember feeling like I was wrong for wanting more and this deep sense that I “should ‘’ just be grateful for what I had because so many people had less. I floundered after high school and eventually became a nurse because it was a safe and solid career choice and all the other women in my family were nurses.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a nurse, I worked in the emergency room and I used to cry before I went to work. I enjoyed helping people but didn’t love how I did it. One day, a friend of mine told me about this job posting she saw for a leadership position at a brand new assisted living community that was opening. I read the description and applied for the job. I had no management experience, outside of running a code blue in the ER, but I took a chance anyway. I got the job and for the first time ever, I loved what I did. I couldn’t wait to go to work and had a lot of fun making a difference. As the years went on, I began working on myself with a life coach and the effects rippled out to every area of my life. I shared what I was learning with anyone who would listen and eventually I got the courage to leave my corporate job and become a certified coach.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Watching people wake up to the idea that so many of their limits are self-imposed. We have so much free will that it can be incredibly easy to imprison ourselves by what we believe. When I speak and work with clients one-on-one, they discover how to set themselves free. I’ve had clients go back to college after years of feeling like they weren’t smart enough to get a degree. Another client quit college after realizing that she was doing it only to please her parents. At one speaking event recently, an attendee stopped me after and said she was taking a vacation for the first time in five years! The people I work with get promotions, save their marriages, forgive themselves and others, learn how to say no without feeling guilty and step into living a life on their terms. The number one regret of the dying is that they weren’t courageous enough to do what they wanted in their lives, I’m on a mission to change that.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One of my first speaking engagements was at a high school honor society induction. I was nervous and tried to fit a lot of information into my fifteen minutes. I was talking so fast that my lips began sticking together. I asked for water but no one brought any…I had lost them with information overload. I learned that connecting with the audience is key and less is more when speaking. This also led me to become a certified speaker and take lessons to improve my stage presence. Life is definitely a classroom.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
A resident named Maxine came into my life at a time where I had started to believe that no one lived a life true to themselves. I had been working in senior living for several years and sat with people as they faced the end of their lives and I realized that so many people didn’t live how they wanted to but instead lived for what they thought others wanted or expected of them. In the end, they never saw the Grand Canyon or learned to dance. Their dreams died with them.
Then Momma Max walked into my life and she was proof for me that you could live life on your terms. She hadn’t had an easy life but she was true to herself. She did things that lit her up and when her husband died, she bought a small motorhome and traveled the US alone! She helped me see possibilities and gave me hope.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Failure and success go hand in hand. Failure is just a journey in learning — so shift your perspective and be committed to learn from each experience whether you deem it a success or not.
What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
My goal is to be proof for others that it’s possible to live life on your terms just like Momma Max was for me. I help people get clear about what they want, get real about why they don’t have it, and then take action by being courageous enough to do the things necessary to create a life they can’t wait to wake up to — regardless of what anyone else thinks.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
My debut book, Ditching the ream: How to Live Life on Your Terms recently released and I’m having so much fun sharing it on social media and through speaking engagements. I’m in the midst of recording the audiobook and creating a companion journal and course to go with the book. From here, I see expansion of my business and impact. It’s an exciting time for sure.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate. Carl Jung
I came across this quote not long after I started working with a life coach and remember thinking about how powerful we are. I started to see how my thinking and behavior were directly connected to the outcomes I was having in my life. I went from believing that life was happening to me to believing that life was happening for me. Our outside world and how we perceive everything around us is so deeply connected to our unconscious mind (our automatic thoughts and beliefs) and I have learned that once we begin to master our mind, we take our power back.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.
- Water — see example above 🙂 Seriously though, I never go to stage without water.
- Connection with the audience. The audience needs to feel like you “get” them. Share a relatable story, laugh at yourself, and be transparent. Instead of speaking at them, ask questions and get them engaged. When I speak I engage with the audience by asking questions throughout my presentation.
- Know your material. Don’t try to “wing-it” You’ve got to know the points, stories, examples, so well that if something unexpected happens, like you lose your slides or note, that you can still be impactful.
- Keep your presentation simple. Stick to a few points and share stories about each one. People remember stories over statistics because good stories drive an emotional connection.
- Be true to yourself. Don’t speak on something you’re not fully comfortable with just to get on stage. Know your strengths, passions, and stay in your lane. In the beginning of my speaking career, I would speak on almost anything I was hired for. I was afraid to propose something that was a better fit. Today I trust that it’s all happening for me and make the proposal based on who I am, my strengths, and the impact I know I’m best at making. Your audience can feel it when it’s forced.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
Just start. I started small and honed my skill through lots of practice. You don’t need to be great to start, but you have to start to be great — Zig Ziglar. Lead a book club. Speak to a small group at work, in your community, or at church. Start where you are.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would start a #ditchers movement where people would ditch the dreams they were taught to have and live life their way on their terms! I believe that if we all were in places, doing things that set our souls on fire that the world would be full of people who fulfilled their dreams and helped others do the same!
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Absolutely! Mel Robbins because I love how real, relatable, and actionable she is. Her messages are simple, profound, and life changing. Mel walks her talk and shares what she knows. I think she’s an incredible example of a #ditcher and I’d love to connect with her. Mel is a “Momma Max” for people!
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Author Bethany Clemenson On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.