According to Barna Research, only one of every four Americans has a worldview that guides their decisions and actions. It appears that most of us know what we do, for whom we do it, and how much we get paid to do it. The one thing we don’t know is why we’re doing it. To gauge the motivation of others, I often ask them, “What gets you out of bed in the morning?” Many of them offer a version of the same amusing but uninspiring response, “I have to go to the bathroom!” In other words, people are typically more motivated by their bladders than their beliefs!
A first principle of Breakthrough Speaking is that it must originate in the speakers’ beliefs, their own philosophy of speaking. The “whys” of speaking are every bit as important as the “whats” and “how-tos.” Why do you speak? Do you have a compelling purpose that drives each presentation you make? Before you can address the practice of speaking, you must have a philosophy of speaking. Before you approach the lectern or the microphone you must know why you are there.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a reason why can bear almost any how” (emphasis added).
To be effective, to motivate others to act, and to achieve breakthrough results in their lives, a speaker must have a compelling motivation behind his or her own actions.
My own philosophy of speaking, for example, is based on the following three premises:
1. The everyday experience of life for an individual or organization is one of pain, problems or discomfort. I don’t mean this in a melodramatic way. Think of pain and discomfort–personally and organizationally–that comes from responding to challenges like unhappy customers or unpleasant employees, competition that threatens to take customers and market share and setbacks like regulatory changes or even crisis.
2. Despite the presence of pain in life, everyday experience offers the opportunity for unlimited joy. That is, joy is always possible. We can reframe what happens and respond in such a way that we triumph rather than suffer; we enjoy rather than endure.
3. My opportunity as a professional speaker is to help audiences with the tasks of understanding the pain of life, dealing with that pain, and/or experiencing life’s joy. I am most successful when I can help an audience accomplish all three tasks.
What is your philosophy of speaking? Why do you aspire to speak and what do you hope to accomplish?
To begin developing your speaking philosophy, consider the expectations of an audience. Almost any audience will have two principal expectations of you. First, your listeners expect you to make them feel good (or better) about themselves and their situation. Second, they expect you to give them some insight, tools, and direction that will help them live or do business more successfully. My three-point philosophy of speaking addresses both of these audience expectations – and your philosophy should, too.
If you really want to inspire others to action through speaking, you must first be inspired to speak by your own belief in what you are doing – your philosophy of speaking. A philosophy of speaking that motivates you to action is the first step toward Breakthrough Speaking.