At the age of 50, Long Beach resident Walt Grassl realized that stage fright was limiting him in too many ways. So he went on a journey to conquer that fear and has since become an accomplished improv performer and Internet radio host. He shares this journey in his book Stand Up & Speak Out and showcases the overcoming stage fright stories of others on his show.
Carma Spence: How did you get started as a speaker?
Walt Grassl: I joined Toastmasters in 2006.
CS: What inspires you to speak your message?
WG: At the age of 50 I conquered stage fright and I am living a life unimaginable before that. I want to share my story so others can live their dreams.
CS: What do you believe is your best strength as a speaker?
WG: My authenticity. I tell my compelling stories and they inspire my audience.
CS: If someone wanted to foster that strength in themselves, what would you recommend?
WG: Don’t be afraid to show your audience how bad it was for you. We all have obstacles in our lives, share your pain associated with the obstacle and then share the process you used to overcome the obstacle.
CS: What is the best advice you've ever received as a speaker?
WG: Use humor to connect with your audience.
CS: What is the best advice you can give as a speaker?
WG: Tell your story and talk to one person at a time, with solid eye contact.
CS: What plans do you have for the future of your speaking journey?
WG: I am honing my message and taking it on the road, starting with service clubs and building up stage time. After 500 hours of local improv, I qualified to study at the Groundlings. I will use a similar approach to putting in the time at smaller venues, then moving up to bigger stages.
CS: Are you a Long Beach native or a transplant?
WG: I am a Southern California native, raised in Pico-Rivera and have lived most of the past 40 yrs in the Long Beach area.
CS: What do you like about being a speaker in Long Beach?
WG: There is such a strong Toastmasters presence in Long Beach, as well as the Held2gether improv classes. This gives speakers ample opportunity to hone their craft.
To learn more about Grassl, including information about his weekly radio show, visit his website at waltgrassl.com. His book, Stand Up & Speak Out is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions. You can catch his radio show online every Thursday at 11am Pacific.
NOTE: Are you a Long Beach based speaker? Do you know of an upcoming speaking event? Contact me to have an interview with you published in this column.