A woman recently asked me about speaking professionally. She wondered how I started out as a speaker, where I learned my skills and how my speeches were developed. When I told her my speeches were developed from insight, learning and my own experiences, she seemed surprised and a bit awed. “You create them yourself?” she asked. “Yes,” I answered.
“You just went and made them up?” she confirmed. “Mmmhmm,” I answered. ““I develop speeches for topics I want to present and clients choose which one they want.” She still looked surprised, so I said, “You could do it, too. Think of all the stories you have that someone would want to hear.” My new acquaintance took a full step backward as her eyes grew wide and she shook her head. “No, not me,” she said. The thought of public speaking frightens many people, so I tried to reassure her, “You can learn the speaking skills over time, but the stories are already inside you.” She just looked at me like I was talking nonsense. “I don’t have stories like that,” she said.
Now I was surprised. Public speaking can be frightening, but believing you have no interesting life experience is truly scary. I asked her if she had visited other countries, and she had. “What you saw and did in other countries,” I said, “is something others want to hear. Most people are very interested in how other people live, and in stories of travel to another country.” She looked skeptical, and we were interrupted before we could continue. As she turned to go, I remembered she had asked me earlier about Toastmasters International, a public speaking and leadership club. “Go to a Toastmasters club,” I advised as we were split up. “You will find your stories while learning to speak, and the club has people who want to hear them.”
There are lots of ways to bring forth our stories. Writing and public speaking are two of them, and there are many more. What I hadn’t known before is that not everyone recognizes their life is full of fun, interesting and valuable stories. Every life is meaningful.
Don’t we all have stories to create, tell, and especially to live? Isn’t the most ordinary life interesting and meaningful? Think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, writing about life in the big woods and on the prairie. Imagine Anne Frank quietly writing as she stayed hidden day after day. Though most days were long, slow, and devoid of adventure, each of their stories have fascinated us for decades. Each of their life stories is an adventure and lesson for the audience who lives the experience through the telling.
How can your story be shared with the world?
You don’t have to be a writer to be fascinating. The most mundane moments become treasured events when a family genealogist discovers them. Your everyday adventures while growing up become legendary events to wide-eyed children who never knew you “back when”.
Others love to hear the insight and learning associated with your personal events. Life teaches us so much more than the classes we take and books we read. You have a lifetime of adventure, mistakes, wisdom, understanding and insight. I hope you recognize your unique and wonderful experience of life – and share it with all of us.