What I Learned About My Speech from an Indian Restaurant
Have you ever gone somewhere that you didn’t want to go? Not just in your speech, but in everyday life.
Perhaps a restaurant, an event or even a vacation destination.
How did it turn out?
For most people, the experience is better than expected.
One reason for this is because expectations were low. For years, I resisted going to Indian restaurants. I didn’t like the scent of the food, and I’m not into spicy cuisine.
Once I relented and went, I loved it. Now, my biggest challenge is to avoid stuffing myself with shrimp korma, rice, and nan bread.
I learned that sometimes we have to go places that we think will make us uncomfortable.
What does this have to do with speaking?
It relates to crafting a speech with long-lasting impact. May I suggest you follow the suggestion of one of my coaches, Craig Valentine. He says:
“If you want to find the gold in your speeches, be willing to go to those parts of your life where you don’t want to go.”
What does this mean?
Be willing to talk about the unpleasant areas of your life. These are the ones you’re either embarrassed by or ashamed of.
Why would you share those painful stories?
Those are the experiences that taught you the most meaningful lessons.
They are the most relatable to your audience
Think about the most meaningful speakers you’ve heard.
Why do you still remember them?
Most likely, they talked about difficult experiences that you understood all too well. They were vulnerable. They were like you.
Speech Lesson at 154 MPH
I’m creating a story called Full Throttle. It’s about a unique experience I recently had. I got to drive an Indianapolis-style race car. This was the real deal, risk and all.
The first few times I shared this story, I talked about the euphoria I felt while driving. I told about the speed I achieved (154.1 miles per hour). I shared the thrill of getting to say “I got to drive an Indy car.”
What I wasn’t telling the audience was the near-paralyzing fear I also felt. Driving a high sophisticated race car is a combination of exhilaration and terror.
The risk factor was driven home by the facilitator, Bob. He was like an Army drill sergeant. He let me know that “If you don’t follow the rules, you could be injured, or even killed.”
This planted a seed of fear in my head. The first half of that drive, I drove slow – too slow. I held back because of Bob’s warning.
For me, that was embarrassing to tell others. My male ego got in the way of my message. I couldn’t let people know how afraid I was. That would be…. un-manly.
How a Simple Piece of Speech Feedback Changed My Perspective
This changed when I received a piece of anonymous feedback. The author wrote “I can’t relate to this story. It’s not something I’d do. I’d be too scared.”
That was a ‘slap-upside-the-head moment. That evaluation convinced me that I needed to talk about the fear I felt during the experience. That was the part of the story others would relate to.
My ego didn’t want me to talk about this part. That might make me look bad. In time, the sensible part of my brain won out. It reminded me that the speech is about the audience. What can they learn from my experience?
I added a section about the fear and intimidation I felt. I now talk about how the experience-of-a-lifetime became an exercise in survival. It wasn’t until the key moment of the story when I learned the lesson that my fear turned to euphoria.
How My Speech Changed
When I started sharing that part of the story, the evaluations changed. People told me how much they appreciated my vulnerability. They felt the story was relatable. The core message positively affected them.
This feedback helped me appreciate the power of talking about the parts of my life I don’t want to discuss. There’s power in your pain, if you’re willing to use it to help others.
There is one caveat to this idea of talking about the tough parts of your life. Don’t share stories if you’re having strong emotional reactions. Sometimes, it’s too soon to tell your story.
If you shed a few tears, or have a momentary pause to gather yourself while speaking, that’s OK. What’s not alright is uncontrollable sobbing, or repeated interruptions because of overwhelming emotions. Never use an audience for your own therapy.
The Long-Term Benefit of Painful Experiences
Share your story with an emphasis on the benefit to the audience. Then you’re on your way to creating a long-lasting message.
Want to stand out and leave an impact far beyond your time on stage?
Be willing to go to that place you don’t want to go.
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Want to create a connection with others that lays the foundation for long-term mutually beneficial client relationships?
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