About four-and-a-half years ago, National Public Radio and KCRW hosted an event at the Broad Stage for “Planet Money.” It was April 2009 and the world was in financial crisis. Everyone was uncertain about the future, except for bankruptcy attorneys and funeral directors, both of whom had bright futures.

It was a typical glorious spring day as I made my way across the parking lot. I looked up and saw this vibrant cowboy shirt, tight jeans and a man with huge grin and I wanted to meet him.

Twenty minutes later, I’m standing on the back deck sipping a soda and he comes through the door, so I start to chat him up. It was a “Casablanca” moment, the start of a beautiful friendship.

In the four years that have followed, John K. Bates and I have become close friends. We have some common loves like good food, dogs and public speaking. John is a public speaking coach for aspiring TED presenters.

If you don’t know what a TED talk is, look it up online and search for “Brene Brown vulnerability.” It’s one of the most watched videos of all time and it will demonstrate for you the power of what a great presentation is.

Presenting and speaking in public are highly valued skills, precisely because they require us to be vulnerable in ways that most of us rarely confront. As a divorce lawyer I have to be polished and skillful when speaking to a judge on behalf of the men I represent. I have over the years become comfortable with public speaking and I have grown to love it.

Being on a stage and having the rapt attention of 10 or 1,000 is fun for me. Asking someone out on a date, not so much. For most people it is the being on stage that scares the bejeezus out of them. But that is why organizations like Toastmasters began.

Toastmasters is a public speaking and leadership training nonprofit that helps people learn how to craft a talk, present it smoothly and learn how to accept the gratitude of the listeners.

I have been a Toastmaster for two years now, and I’ve learned a great deal about what makes a good presentation. I am ready at a moment’s notice to get up in front of an audience and give a short or long presentation.

The ability to be able to impromptu educate, entertain and enlighten has served me well over the past few years, especially when the news media calls. But to take my skills to a higher level I had to reach out. Luckily there was my buddy John.

John’s skills are in fine polish. He teaches good speakers to be great presenters. He is passionate about his work and loves seeing growth in others. That is why he created Executive Speaking Success, a program that takes a competent speaker and polishes them into a “WOW!” Speaker.

He has been invited by event planners across the planet to come and give presentations and to train people to do what he does. He works with many people who are developing a pitch for a movie or a new business or those who want to become worthy of giving a TED talk for their professional development and to share great ideas.

This Wednesday, Sept. 18, John will be presenting his Executive Speaking Success Speaker Bootcamp at CrossCampus located in Santa Monica on Broadway. Tickets are still available on EventBrite. It will be the best $20 you’ll spend this year.

CrossCampus is a hub of new businesses and innovative thinkers sharing office space. It’s a great environment and I look forward to this event.


David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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