As I have mentioned previously, I live on Whidbey Island in Washington state. Whidbey Island is divided into three sections: the southend, where I live; central Whidbey; and the northend, where there is a Naval Air Station. It takes about an hour to drive from one end of the island to the other. I get 95% of my business from the residents of the southend.
Where am I heading with this geography lesson of my little corner of the Pacific Northwest? Well, I had an opportunity to teach a continuing education class at the high school located in central Whidbey. The topic was, Understanding Your Canine Companion, and the class was to last for two hours. I was honored to be asked and it was a good opportunity to reach an untapped market for my dog training business.
Now I had to prepare my presentation. First I went to the library and checked out the book, “Speaking with Confidence, A Guide For Public Speakers” by Wanda Vassallo. After reading it for a couple of times I had my game plan and an “I’m sure I can talk about dogs for two hours” attitude.
The second step was to get out all my dog books and organize an outline:
• Introduction of myself
• Dogs in the 90’s
• Domestication of dogs
• Canine series
• Canine communication
• Living with dogs
The next step was to look through my canine library and find all the facts I could that would be pertinent to my presentation. I enjoyed revisiting some of my older books that I hadn’t looked at for a while. It was difficult to find enough information to get my point across, but at the same time I didn’t want to provide too much information as some of the areas in the outline had entire books on the subject.
After looking at the books I had to start putting something down on paper so I got out a notebook and began jotting down ideas that I thought would fit in with Understanding Your Canine Companion. Then I numbered each entry in my notebook, keeping in mind my outline, and began entering it all into my computer. Once I had everything from my notebook in my computer I was able to fill-in with more information. Things were starting to fit together pretty well and the class was three weeks away.
In “Speaking With Confidence” it suggests that you go over your presentation a few times in front of a video camera before you do it for real. This is what I did, and the first time I ran through my presentation the talk took almost an hour; okay back to the computer. The book also suggests that you involve your audience and what better way than with a few trivia questions. Audio-visual is also an important part of a public talk so I took a few tapes we had made of dogs at our behavior clinic and spliced together a tape so the students could use some of the things we were going to cover in class to evaluate the dogs in the tape.
With one week left until class time most of my props were ready and the talking part was very close to being finished. My confidence, however, was wavering. Could I really talk about dogs for two hours? What if everyone in the audience knows more about dogs than me…? It just so happened that that evening I picked up the book “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach to read before bed and I looked at the message for September 20th and read, “One significant quality found in women we admire is that they have identified their personal patterns of self-sabotage and learned to be their own best friend – their authentic self – outsmart the enemy within.” So with a boost of ego and some final preparations I was ready, the presentation was ready, and I was determined to have fun while I shared the information I felt John Q. Public would need to understand their dog.
It was fun! Seventeen people signed up for the class and I can’t wait to give the presentation again, maybe next time here on the southend. This is a great way to reach your community. Most high schools offer community or continuing education classes in the evening. I got paid for doing the talk and I met more potential students for my classes. Good luck and have fun!