What are the Three Reasons You Need to Speak?
“Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”
William Butler Yeats
Whether you speak for a living or as part of your job, understanding the fundamental reason for speaking can be very powerful. So powerful in fact, that it cannot only compel change, it can propel it.
Over the last six years I have had the privilege of coaching courageous survivors of sexual violence in the art of speaking in the Survivors Speak program of Jane Doe No More. Recently, I was recognized by this incredible organization for the contributions I have made to this program. But, as I sat in the audience listening to the words of appreciation from some of “my” speakers, I realized how small my contribution was compared to the impact this chorus of voices has had through the speeches they give and the character they exhibit.
Each of these people resonate incredibly with their audiences because they exemplify the fundamentals behind The Reasons You Need to Speak.
Why Do We Speak?
Speaking is as much an act of compulsion as its counterpart Silence. Both are an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way.
When I coach clients in both speaking and success strategies, I always help them draw distinctions between a Want and a Need. A Want is something you’d like to have. A Need is something you cannot do without.
Speaking, I believe, is an absolute Need. I can’t imagine a day going by without saying something.
In speaking, the object is to draw a distinction between meaningful content and idyll chatter. Speaking is organized thought audibly expressed. Talking or conversation, is a give and take. It is loosely organized around being socially adept at reading cues and allowing for the give and take that makes talking with others so rewarding.
The time allotted a speaker is the significant differentiator between speaking and a conversation. The art of speaking is the ability to make it appear to be a conversation while you do all of the talking. I put it this way to my clients, “A speech is a conversation you have with an audience except it is your turn to do all of the talking.”
Lots of people today, particularly as a result of social media, have more opportunities to say something to a broader audience than in the history of humanity. The consequence of this is a lot of stuff is being said, by a lot of people, all of the time. Some of it is very good and equally, some of it not so good. The critical nature of this current trend is to draw a distinction between two categories of speaker; “those who speak because they can” and “those who speak because they should.”
Those Who Speak Because They Can
In the “those who speak because they can” category I place a lot of executives, politicians, educators, authority figures, and internet hyper-marketers. Once in a while you might hear a speaker who really “nails it.” Unfortunately, the majority don’t. They meander, stumble, and bombard you with an onslaught of “ums” and “ahs”. Worst of all, they struggle to get to their point and often leave you scratching your head asking, “What was that all about?” Sometimes I wonder if they even care about their audiences.
I wish I had the time to work with every one of them. My insights could go a long way toward helping them lead and inspire the audiences they address.
Those Who Speak Because They Should
In the “those who speak because they should” category I place deep thinkers, subject experts, innovators, dreamers, activists, motivators and transformers. Once again, to my chagrin, you might hear a speaker who really “nails it.” Unfortunately, the majority don’t. They also tend to meander, stumble, and bombard you with an onslaught of “ums” and “ahs”. Any of these speakers who struggle to get to their point, leaving you scratching your head asking, “What was that all about?” have done a disservice to you, their central cause, and the collective conversation that relies so heavily on their content. And again, I wonder if they even care about their audiences.
If I could interest them in a session or two, I know I could increase their effectiveness.
The Three Reasons You Need to Speak
When I reflect on the speakers I have trained in the Survivors Speak program, they all represent the best of the “those who speak because they should” category. They do this because they have lived the silence of an unspeakable act and survived to regain the power that is rightfully theirs through the act of speaking.
Each of these awesome people have learned to craft a speech encompassing their story while inspiring their audiences, through their courage and dignity, to speak up and add their voices to the #Voice2Change.
Each of these speakers have met The Three Reason You Need Speak.
- I speak because I believe have something to say.
- I speak because I believe I have something to say that needs to be heard.
- I speak because I believe that I have something to say that needs to heard by someone other than me.
Your Speaking Challenge
The next time you get to speak either for a living, as part of your job, as a civic authority or as a volunteer please keep these three reasons in mind. Think about the opportunity you’re getting to share your thoughts, passion, and vision with a group of people.
If you really have something to say, know what it is. Take the time to organize it and make it palatable to your audience.
If you believe what you have to say needs to be heard, take the time to practice it. Put your best voice forward. Make the lasting impression you desire. Leave your listeners with a message to remember.
I you believe the thing you have to say needs to be heard by others, get to know who they are. What are their needs. How will your speech satisfy their “What’s In It For Me?” desire.
Above all, don’t speak because you can.
Whenever you speak, let it be because you should. Your audience will appreciate it and you will experience the reciprocal benefit that comes from making that bountiful connection speaking affords.
Please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague. As always, your comments and suggestions are delightfully welcome in the comments section below.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz