After discovering a local Toastmasters club in 2014, digital marketing guru Michelle Held spent months exploring the club’s website and Facebook page before she decided to join.
Held, CC, CL, admittedly had trouble maintaining eye contact with people. Speaking onstage was a distant hope for her, but after joining Professionally Speaking Toastmasters in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, that hope turned into reality.
Already an established author and online marketing consultant, Held can now add speaker to her resume. In addition to running her own digital marketing company, she also conducts seminars and training sessions on social media and web technology topics and is a contributor for Entrepreneur.com.
You weren’t always in digital marketing—how did you get your start?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and worked as a project engineer until I started to learn about databases for project management in the ’90s. As their access went online, so did I. I learned to program in a few languages that could marry databases to the internet.
I then founded a website programming company that specialized in organizing data online. When startups Yahoo and Google began to grow, my company evolved into search engine optimization specialists for websites with database backends. Currently I own MetroNY, LLC, a digital marketing agency that consults with companies to improve online marketing strategy.
How has Toastmasters helped you?
Toastmasters helped me improve my personal branding, and as a result, my company attracts larger clients. My eye contact during conversation has improved enormously. This makes a better first impression and helps form a solid personal connection.
I also run meetings more effectively, and I am observant and appreciative of those who run meetings well. One nonprofit I’m involved with has requested that I run their meeting when the president is absent because the members like the Toastmasters timing and style that I apply to keep things moving.
Moderators are the unsung heroes of any multi-speaker conference. Their job is incredibly important, yet they get little recognition. At a few conferences, I am both a moderator for others as well as a speaker. It can be a challenge to keep a session on track, and Toastmasters has prepared me for that job.
Where do you speak and who is your audience?
Before joining Toastmasters, I never even received responses from speaking engagement applications. Now I speak at business conferences and seminars, and I conduct live webinars on topics of online marketing—especially social media strategy.
I talk at tech conferences, which is always a challenge because you are never sure what level the audience is at until you meet them. The feedback I receive from the wonderful members of the Professionally Speaking club helps me get the messaging right, and they’ve taught me quite a bit about altering the presentation for different audiences.
Tell us about your blogs and vlogs.
I am both a blogger on my company website and a vlogger for Entrepreneur Network’s video channel. The word “blog” is a truncation of the word “weblog.” The word “vlog” is a combination of “video” and “blog.”
I started vlogging for Entrepreneur Network last year. Although I was given a list of ideal topics, I am free to create content on anything I choose, similar to the way a Toastmaster chooses the topic they wish to talk about while still following a manual.
I’m also a contributing author for Entrepreneur.com, where I give additional lessons that complement the video content.
Do you have any digital marketing tips for clubs?
Websites are what business cards were 40 years ago; they are an absolute necessity. Facebook is the largest social network in the world with the widest age range using it. The best part is that it is free to use! A club should be using both Facebook and their websites to communicate with stakeholders.
Find out more about Michelle Held at www.metrony.com.