When I was communications manager at a large non-profit, I began to speak on behalf of United Way during their annual fundraising campaign in the fall. Like many, I would do almost anything to avoid speaking in front of a group. I remember reciting a poem my Junior year in high school. (Sonnet 143, if you must know: “Lo! as a careful housewife runs to catch/One of her feather’d creatures broke away…” Really. Of all of The Bard’s sonnets, I chose this one? Go figure.) I almost had a complete and total breakdown. Many of you will be familiar with the wretched side affects I had to navigate: shaking voice, hands, and knees; sweaty palms and pits; dots in front of my eyes.

For me to take on regular speaking gigs was a big deal. I was ambitious and determined and I was committed to my organization, a Visiting Nurse Association, and the work of the United Way. I participated in some training (even though I had dropped out of a public speaking class in college). I recited my speeches in front of the washing machine and dryer in the basement of our house (appliances are soooo nonjudgmental). And I girded my loins to go out there and do it. The night before any presentation, I would lie in bed and say to myself, “Everything comes and everything goes. Whether this goes well or I bomb, it will pass.” And so it always did: It came, I was awesome or mediocre at best, and it passed. Job well done, Dawn!

Thus began the portion of my career where I spoke in front of groups, large and small, on a regular basis. Fundraising, professional image consulting, and sales all offered many opportunities to help others by sharing my knowledge. A year ago, I transitioned my career (yes, well, again – I like to say I’m a Jackie of all trades, Mistress of some) and began to focus my brand knowledge on small businesses in the Berkshires. Most digital marketers are not known for their public personas (Guy Kawasaki and a handful of others aside). I’m now extremely happy to work behind the scenes to help small businesses share THEIR stories.

While I’m joyous to be behind the screen 90% of the time now, I still present for The Emily Post Institute twice each year. I talk to their Etiquette Train the Trainer participants about tools to grow their fledgling etiquette businesses. I always learn something and get to meet great people passionate to help others. Thanks to my friends at Emily Post for hosting me. Keep up the amazing work to sustain your brand focused on consideration, respect, and honesty. See you in the spring!

Did I mention I’m soooo happy to be behind the computer again? ;>)