Today, I will attend the Area Contest of our Toastmasters International Speech Contest. These contestants must give a 5-7 minute speech that will move and motivate the audience. I liken the challenge to a minister or priest’s task each week of addressing topics that have been discussed for centuries. How do you take something important like love, humility, kindness, strength and make it fresh and new for your audience? Somehow our International winner each year finds a way. Is it by humor, surprise, the exact fresh combination of powerful words, by the pregnant pause? What technique will win over the hearts and minds of those listening?
As a professional performer who has been on many stages throughout my lifetime, I am humbled by this challenge, and I’m always fascinated by the creative ways my fellow public speakers craft their talks. Fortunately, the pressure is off for me. All I have to do today is listen. What’s in it for me? Learning, applauding and supporting my fellow Toastmasters and perhaps coming home with new energy to tackle something I hadn’t even considered.
What could you say to someone that could send them home with new energy to pursue a task, follow a dream, create something life-changing? We all have something to offer. It’s just a matter of finding a way to communicate whatever the message is to the right audience. Have you ever had a brief conversation with a stranger that sent you home thinking, “Wow. She made my day,” or “I never really thought about it that way.”
Today, I will listen and learn. If I am not motivated by what I hear, I might be inspired by what I don’t. If I’m not energized by the presentations, I will ask myself what I need to add to my own to give the audience what I am seeking. If I have one refreshing conversation with one person, my morning will be worthwhile. If not, I will ask myself what I could have offered to make someone else’s pleasant.
What will you learn from the listening you do today? What words might come out of your mouth that could change someone’s direction?