Long ago, when I first joined Toastmasters, I wanted to be a great motivational speaker. I envisioned the audience out of their seats moving around filled with excitement—but I was terrified. Many of those first speeches I did in Toastmasters had parts written in where I was to get excited and the audience should get out of their seats. Every time I would come to that part in the speech, I would keep the same tone of voice, not invoking the excitement I really wanted to. Needless to say, the audience stayed put.
About three years passed, and I decided to enter the International Speech Contest. I wrote a rousing speech called “The Key to Success.” In this speech, would I finally speak in an excited tone of voice. Could I get the audience out of their seats and yelling “Gambatte” at the top of their lungs?
I was terrified as I walked in front of the audience. I’d always backed out before—would I back out again? This time I didn’t. I spoke with an excited tone of voice. I got the audience out of their seats and yelling, and it felt GREAT!
After the speech a good friend, whom I admired and wanted to emulate as a speaker, told me something that changed my speaking forever. He said, “That was great Mark! I wish I could speak like that.” I was stunned; I had put him on a pedestal and dreamed that someday, if I worked real hard, I could speak like him. Now, he was envious of me.
You never know who is in your audience and what will connect with them. Those three years I was focused on me when I should have been focused on what members of the audience needed. Don’t be afraid to give your audience all of you. Show your passion, as well as your knowledge for what you’re talking about. It’s that passion that will influence your audience and change their lives. I know from experience this can be terrifying and takes time, so I’m encouraging you to start today. Give your audience your all and they will give you back more than before.