I need to get out more often. I’m a social animal, but it seems like I spend more time with my computer than among the living. That is why it was a treat to come to Red Bluff, California over the recent Memorial Day holiday.

I launched my Northern California book tour and Red Bluff was my second stop. I gave a talk and book signing at Crystal Art & Apparel. Wilma, the owner, organized a wonderful affair, the Red Bluff Daily News ran a press release about the event and the nearby Redding Record Searchlight ran a ¾ -page article on the front page of the Community Section.

As a public relations professional (my day job), free media exposure is my life’s blood. However, the real thrill was being able to talk about my passion of helping people erase negativity. Of course it is also the theme of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, written by me and my friend and co-author, Jacqueline Howard. By the end of the evening, everyone in the audience bought copies of the book. Some folks bought two books!

Even though I’m comfortable lecturing, I prefer to conduct my talks as a round-table discussion. I believe everyone gets more out of the event if they are an active participant. I learned on the site, The Learning Pyramid, that folks only retain 5% of what they learn from a lecture, but that number increases to 50% when they are engaged in a group discussion. Hopefully these folks will practice what they heard and enhance their retention increase to 75%. Best of all is when they teach someone else what they were taught and use it immediately. At that point the retention reaches a whopping 90%! If more folks do this and learn to erase negativity and teach others about the process, I believe we will see some truly optimistic results!

Since I was out of town, my preparation for this talk was a bit unusual. I decided to walk down a trail leading to the Sacramento River. Since I didn’t have the typical distractions that I have at home, I was able to focus on my surroundings. I did think a little about the talk and the content I wanted to present, but mostly I enjoyed the trees, wildflowers and greenery. Rather than my pre-talk tweeting on twitter, I listened to the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves on the trees.

During this outdoor excursion I let my soul become immersed in the beauty of the surroundings. Rather than rehearse a speech, I decided to refresh my spirit so I could be totally present to the group. I know my topic, so I wasn’t worried that I’d forget anything important or become speechless. I wanted a little spontaneity regarding the direction the talk would take and the flexibility to change course if necessary. There is no way I could know this until I met my audience.

When I’m in a group where there is an exchange of ideas, I feel rejuvenated. I hope (and believe) the Red Bluff audience felt the same way. By the end of the evening when we formally ended the discussion and went on to bigger and better things (eating the delicious food Wilma had prepared) I felt like I was chatting with old friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe speakers should be prepared. I don’t think folks should just “wing it” and not have any regard to the ideas they wish to convey. However, in my case, my message was all about erasing negativity and embracing the magic within. How could I authentically express this concept if I spent more time on how to turn a phrase rather than appreciating the beauty of my environment?

I recently read a sentence in a book that said, “Everything goes back to the beginning.” The same is true with this little story. I feel more like a “human being” rather than a “human doing” when I take the time to enjoy my surroundings and allow a flow of dialogue rather than rehearse a canned speech. Like I said before, “I really need to get out more often.”

Author's Bio: 

Sally Marks is the president of Marks Public Relations and the co-author of the self-improvement book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. For more information visit www.erasenegativity.com.