Finding Your Voice
Once you manage to stand behind a lectern without fainting, then what? You need something to say, and you want it to be interesting to the audience. The age-old excuse people have for avoiding public speaking is, “I don’t have anything to say. My life is boring.” You don’t have to have a life-and-death experience or be an Olympic champion to have a story to share. You may not think so at the moment, but you do have a message to share. And as Toastmasters’ 2006 World Champion of Public Speaking Lance Miller shares in an article for the Toastmaster magazine, the more personal and passionate your story is, the better.
How to define yourself and your message
Look at who you are. What are your passions and interests, what do you struggle with? What challenges have you overcome? Here is a list of questions to ask yourself:
- What is your philosophy? By what values do you live your life?
- List the defining moments of your life. Any special lessons or experiences that profoundly affected you? For example: learning how to ride a bike, moving to a different city, taking on a new job, becoming a parent.
- What subjects and issues are you certain about? The test of this is, How easily can you be convinced to change your mind? Have you discovered the best way to motivate a child to read? To make flowers grow? To create world peace? Then share your expertise with the world!
- Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. You won’t inspire an audience if you live a negative life. Find the blessings in life and bring them to life for yourself and your audience!
- What makes you laugh? Share your favorite sources of humor.
- What makes you angry? Share how you would change the world for the better if you could.
- What are you struggling with right now? Speak about what captures your attention at the moment. If you have “speaker’s block”, speak about your inability to come up with a speech topic. Don’t have enough time in the day for all your work? Give a speech on that topic! It will help you give a passionate speech and perhaps solve a problem.
So, what do you have to say? Challenge yourself and discover your voice!