The Reason To Be Speaking to Others
I had just completed speaking to a group about the power of story telling. A few attendees stopped by to thank me for the material I had shared.
As I was preparing to leave the venue, one woman, Darlene, approached me. Her voice quivered when she said, “I need to talk with you for a moment.”
Uncertain of what I was about to hear, I said, “OK. Is everything alright?”
She said, “I just want you to know… you changed my life today.”
Her words caught me off-guard. “Really? What did I do? I want to be able to repeat it!”
We each laughed at this, and then she said, “While you were speaking, you inspired me to finishing writing my book. I started it 15 years ago. I’m almost in tears telling you this, and I don’t cry often.
I went through a difficult experience about two decades ago. I started to write about it, but set the book aside because… well, I’m not sure why.
Your words today convinced me that I have a responsibility to share my story. I know in my heart it can help millions all over the world. I even want it to be turned into a movie!
I don’t want to go back to my office. I want to go home and start writing right now!”
I said, “Please don’t tell your boss. She won’t bring me back to do any speaking if she knows I’m inspiring her team not to work.”
All kidding aside, I was nearly moved to tears myself. Although I’ve been privileged to speak to many audiences, and heard many people say ‘Thank you’ in my career, I’ve never been thanked in such a meaningful way.
It’s almost a cliché in the speaking world that those four words – “You changed my life” – are ultimately why we speak. However, it’s easy to distracted from that message – to get caught up in the preparation, the income, and the accolades of speaking. You can forget that changing lives is the ultimate benefit of why we do this.
You never really know how which people you will touch, nor how deeply your message resonates within an audience. Typically, even those who are impacted quickly leave after you speak, on to the next activity in their busy day.
I like to think that I’m pretty good at remembering why I speak, and coach others to become better speakers. I frequently remind them – and myself – that speaking is an honor and a privilege. I tell them, “Never get caught up in yourself. As hard as you may work to create and practice your material, always remember this:
“If you weren’t at the front of the room speaking, someone else would be. The conference, the meeting, and the other presentations will still go on.”
Am I saying this to denigrate the value of your hard work and your message?
Just a reminder that it’s not about us. It’s about the audience. Thanks to Darlene’s willingness to bare her soul to me, and share her thoughts and feelings, as well as her dream, I received the ultimate gift a speaker can receive. Those four magic words:
You Changed My Life.
Thank you, Darlene. You also changed mine.
‘THE Book on Storytelling.’
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