Public Speaking IS A Courageous Conversation
“We shape our self to fit this world, and by the world are shaped again. The visible and the invisible. working together in common cause, to produce the miraculous.” David Whyte, poet.
I was just initiated into the Professional Women Toastmasters in Los Angeles last week. I am thrilled, a little scared, proud, but also ready to SPEAK ON! Why, because I, like so many of you, have always had stories to share. For years I was, and still am, a public relations practitioner who stood, and still stands, behind my clients who are the spokespeople. For the most part, the PR person is silent. This is part of the job description. However it’s mind boggling when you think about this. PR people are the ones who reach out to various audiences with pitches and facts that bring the audiences into the conversation and into their story. Now I can feel and see how I have always been a story teller and how it is my time to get on stage and be the courageous person I have always been. And I believe all of you have a voice inside that needs to be heard. Many of us may feel that our voice is not important in the workplace. The point I would like to make in this post is that yes, your voice needs to be heard more than ever, everywhere. The world needs to hear you.
We all have many stories to share about our lives and experiences that have changed our course through life and the course for others. We have heard over and over again that when we are giving a speech, making a client presentation, talking to our peers at work or at a personal event, that we simply want to tell a story, even if it is filled with numbers and graphs. Even so, we want to connect with our audience and make them feel like they are a part of our story. When selling our product, initiative, or even your own services such as I do, we need to hardwire with our audience We want to empower them to think, feel, relate to, feel and see our words. And most importantly, we want them to be with us for the ride so they too feel empowered to hear that voice inside of them that is just waiting to burst out.
Today many companies are working at improving employee engagement by teaching their staff how to eat better, exercise, meditate, form tribes as support groups, switch job roles every year or so, and get up on a stage to speak to their colleagues and various audiences. By doing this the employee is showing how they are brave by not only stepping up onto that stage, but are also on a mission to change the landscape and energy of their audience. But it seems that not enough companies are enabling their employees to build their own stage to speak on. Giving them the opportunity to speak is going to help them have a clearer view of who they are in the workplace, and will provide them with a mirror that will help them see who they are from the inside. When they walk up those steps to their stage, they may feel that the hike up is too hard and high and that they will never make it to the podium that patiently awaits them. Their legs may be wobbly and their hands might never stop sweating. And of course, their minds are chatting away with the ego taking charge saying, “you are too scared to speak, why even try?” In reality you can be an amazing speaker if you speak from the heart and not listen to that mind chatter. By speaking to an audience while standing there alone you are being brave, confident, and showing others how sharing your story is how leaders are born. You are showing up for yourself and others. It’s your stage.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS STORYTELLING
I recently heard the poet David Whyte, speak at a Fortune 500 company. This hyperlink I am providing is a part of a speech he made about courageous conversations. I am sharing this link because he talks about how we have to face, feel, and respect our inner self when we are in conversation. Whyte is sought after by many companies to share his poetry with employees and their employers to improve employee engagement and yes, the employee’s sense of self and the employer’s mission or purpose. Whyte helps individuals learn how to be in the now. His words help us see how we all have challenges and triumphs in life, how we are looking to find our sense of self, our cause, purpose, and how we are so viable to the world and others. He brings his audiences into his story. Here is a poet sharing his thoughts with words that touch us all in different ways. Who would have ever thought that a poet would help individuals in Corporate America “fall into” words? Makes sense to me. As he shares stories through poetry, you can do the same by giving a speech and telling a story that will connect you to your clients, peers, and even strangers. Your goal is to communicate that we are all in this life together.
No more sweaty palms required. Instead, when thinking about public speaking, invite your heart to beat fast and furious just like a runner’s would before he or she is waiting for that gun to go off before they sprint towards the finish line. The scary feeling in your gut before speaking is your ego trying to talk you out of it. Tell it to quiet down and take a seat in the audience. No, better yet, tell it to walk out of the room! Know that once you are up there on stage it is your time to shine, share, and be in the spotlight you deserve to be under.
As Lily Tomlin stated years ago, “What does it take to get to Carnegie Hall? —- practice, practice, practice.” And of course, not everyone has the public speaking gene and can be a Tony Robbins or a David Whyte. This is fine. But I know you have a speaker and a voice in you. You just need to find it. And you will.
Public speaking is a craft and a tool that enables us to share and make a connection with people, something we need so much today in our fast paced world. We have become so connected that we are getting more and more disconnected. And people have forgotten how to listen. So when you are asked to get up on your stage and speak, think of your speech as a story you want to tell that will benefit many, especially yourself. Your stage is our stage. And think of the big stage we could create worldwide if we told stories to bring people together as a ONE. I am one of those individuals who knows that I can make a difference with my voice and can’t wait to share my stories to educate, empower, and touch others so they too can find their voice, and most of all, their purpose.