You don\’t really need a cape…. but it helps!

Part 1 of a 2 part series on my quest to become a better public speaker

It seems to be the latest thing where companies and organizations are really honing their ability to tell the story, sell the brand, share the successes of why people are so passionate about their cause, their product, and most importantly their mission.  I want to tell my story!  I want to become a better speaker and get on stage again to share my story to inspire others to be strong and have hope and share my passion.

Recently through our skill based volunteering program I engaged with a public speaking coach.  My speaking experience comes from originally being a waitress, a trainer, a sales person, and as a director in my role with volunteers and staff.

Then in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma my world turned a little upside down and I worked to keep things in perspective, keep a positive outlook, stay and get as strong as possible during my treatment — at that point I was asked to speak about my story, to share the hope with others that yes, you too can survive and in what ever way you spin it – try and THRIVE through cancer treatment.

My quest to become a better speaker through my coaching sessions has me on the right path and I am excited to get started — in the meantime I am working on focusing on what is MY story and what audiences I may want to reach, taking the time to really think about what I want to say.

If you haven\’t seen my videos that I have speaking as a cancer survivor at Relay events, trainings and a all staff meeting.  I have them posted on my LinkedIn account linked to my YouTube channel.  Any feedback on my speaking is always appreciated.  That is my next step – to start speaking and gathering feedback – so thank you for commenting below!   Linked here is my first talk at the New England Relay University 3 months after my diagnosis in 2011 (still my favorite talk to date) 

This article was really great for me to read -to help me continue to put this all together – 20 Questions for Public Speakers — I answering these questions to get myself prepared as a speaker and get this party started! 🙂


1.What do you love about the art of public speaking?

I love that public speaking reaches all kinds of people needing all different things in their lives.  You never know when you are going to connect on something for someone, make them smile and laugh, make them think a little harder about life, not to give up, advocate for themselves and just be at peace where they are at that very moment.

2.What do you hate about public speaking?

The nerves.  Being afraid that I won\’t reach the audience, that I will \”trip\” on my words and they won\’t laugh or \”get the message\”.  The practice before hand is nerve racking too.  Too many variables that may not be in your control unless you practice and practice and practice again.

3.How do you feel about a life on the road?

That is the hard part – fitting it all in.   I like to travel, but I love being with my family and travel sometimes takes me from family.   Hopefully I can find some locations close to home in the meantime to build up my skills as a speaker.

4. In what ways does the relationship between speaker and audience sustain you, and in what ways not?

I love to make people smile. Just saying hello – saying thank you – knowing their name – doing something nice for people  I think it is the same with an audience, just a more broad brush to more people.  The people that come up after wards to say thank you, want to meet you and tell you their story. You know you have made a difference in their lives…. that is what matters the most.

5.What do you want your audiences to remember of your presentation?

Remember to be a strong advocate for your health, be strong, do what makes you happy, and if you fall get back up again and fight harder as long as you can.     There are so many things that my story can focus on, but advocacy for health, strength in survivorship are major key points I am able to make in my story.

6.What do you want your audiences to do differently as a result of having heard your presentation?

Have hope for those around them, if not for themselves.  Everyone we know is has some sort of struggle.  Some it\’s their health, some its their relationship, money, jobs, or issues with family.  Kindness is what the world needs, hope is what we all need too – take the initiative to be happy, get healthy, have hope, be positive and live life to the fullest each and every day.

7.What do you fear most about giving a presentation?

My fear is that I won\’t have the right audience for my message – that they won\’t get it or want to hear what I have to say.  I fear my words won\’t flow, afraid they won\’t smile or laugh at my little jokes….   The other thing I fear is that a cancer survivor story doesn\’t need to be sad or a downer — so I need to work at keeping it positive and inspiring!  Link here to my talk at the All Staff briefing in November 2011.   

8.What from the past haunts you about public speaking? Were you not good enough once? Was there an audience that didn’t like you? Was there a speech that didn’t land? Was there a speech that you didn’t give that you wanted to – or should have? What are you holding on to?

The timing of my speaking – being thrown into something that won\’t give me enough time to say what I want to say – and to have it just not be enough.  I remember given only 3 minutes for a talk that takes me 10-15 and trying to whittle it down with only a 1 hour advance notice.  I think I did ok (and they did laugh at my little jokes) – but I listen to it now and it sounds like it was a rush job.  Linked here to my Relay For Life opening talk in San Francisco 

9.Who are the speakers and venues that you envy?

TED Talks – I love them, we are addicted to them at my house.  Sometimes I just listen to them for hours, thinking how I could craft my life experiences into their message and talk to the same things they talk about.  Not sure that I would be as good as them, but I envy that they are up there – on stage – sharing their passion and message — hopefully that will be me some day

10.Why do you feel impelled to speak? 

Speaking about surviving cancer and my life is something that I think others will relate to and find inspiration and hope.  I think we all need motivation and hope in our lives, especially those that may be battling cancer or a caregiver for someone going through treatment.  Their is such a need for people to volunteer for this mission of fighting cancer, for people to share their stories – i feel this is my calling to action that helps me to fight cancer at every angle and really make a difference in this world.


Tell me what you are passionate about?  What inspires you?

Thanks for stopping by and please comment in the section below – I would love to hear your feedback and experiences too!





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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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