The EBS 60 Second Interview – Mario Ufertinger
Mario is currently VP-Events at Early Bird speakers. He works in consultancy and is also involved in numerous entrepreneurial ventures. Originally from Germany, he has lived in a number of countries but been living in London for nearly 10 years. He also contributes his time to voluntary organisations and is a mentor at Virgin Startup. Mario has been a member of Early Bird Speakers for a few years and describes it as one of the best things he’s ever done. High energy and positive can do attitude is to be expected.
What brought you to EBS?
I realised that I had an issue with public speaking and I needed to address this. I believe in ‘face your fears’ and ‘change the things you can’ and I therefore became quite eager to work on that. I had looked at a number of clubs and EBS was by far the best.
Was it everything you expected?
It was far more then I expected. I could never have imagined how much my life would change, I went from hating public speaking to absolutely loving it and also everything around me changed. Once you face your fears (whatever they might be) everything becomes so much easier.
How long have you been a Member?
I’ve been a Member for a number of years. EBS became far more then a public speaking club. Seeing so many people progress in such a short time really brings you closer together. These people are my friends and they became an important part of my life. It’s now also a social club for me and I really enjoy being there even if I am not speaking.
Did you have any expectations before you came?
I expected it to be really hard and I was extremely nervous about my first speech. The time restriction and knowing that I was going to get evaluated afterwards were a big issue. However that’s actually the best part of it. You get immediate feedback and there is always something new to learn.
Were your expectations fulfilled?
Looking back it was actually much easier than I expected. The club is so supportive and its such a great environment in which to to learn.
What surprised you most about EBS?
How quickly new members progress. There is something magical about seeing the vulnerability of a speaker during their first speech and then seeing there 3rd speech and thinking, WOW… is that really the same person?
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
The most confident speakers are not necessarily the best. I find vulnerability on stage much more interesting. There is something more personal about these speakers and they hold my attention much longer than uber confident speakers who have done this a thousand times.
What is special about EBS?
EBS is setting the bar very high. There are some outstanding speakers in this club yet everyone is so accommodating to newcomers and makes them feel welcome. EBS is great for all abilities, no matter if you are a good speaker or if the thought of public speaking terrifies you. Also the club goes the extra mile with a great mentoring system in place for lots of extra support.
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
The people. There is something special about the Early Birds. It doesn’t mater what age you are, where they are from, what your income is etc. If you are high flying lawyer, struggling actor or unemployed there is a place for you in EBS. We are a very diverse bunch of people and this makes it so interesting. Also there is simply something special about people who get up at a ridiculous time in the morning to do public speaking. I love this club.
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
I am trying hard to get friends to come along but I usually get the ‘its too early’ excuse. However they do watch the videos on Early Bird TV. My family live abroad, they watch the videos too but I always end up translating. However they keep on talking about stage presence and body language which I find very interesting.
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
A lot has changed over the years. I never had an issue with walking into a room full of strangers. However now I am happy to walk into a room full of strangers, get up on stage and give a speech about a subject I know very little about. I walk up to people and introduce myself instead of waiting to be approached. It’s the little things that really changed and I am much more up for challenges and adventures then I used to be.
What was your biggest fear before you came?
I felt quite embarrassed about not being as good as everyone else in the club. However I realised that this is what EBS is all about and they will do their best to get you very quickly to that same level as everyone else. They might even push you beyond that point and make you realise you have talents you never knew existed.
Is that still your biggest fear?
Not at all. EBS is such a welcoming club. It is a secure environment where you can try new things on stage and it is perfectly fine if something goes wrong. In fact you are encouraged to get it wrong so you can learn from your mistakes and become even better.
How does public speaking impact your life?
I sometimes have to brace myself to not make a speech out of everything. I also need to stop evaluating other speakers. There are so many senior executives, CEO’s etc. who could seriously benefit from a little bit of Toastmasters.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
I really enjoy Toastmasters and I am more than happy to get up that early and go and see people progress and make improvements to there lives. It is such a great environment with so many interesting people and by 9am when others have bearly started their day, I have already learned a lot, laughed a lot, seen a whole bunch of friends and stood on a stage. No, there is no other place I would rather be on a Thursday morning.