Back in 2012, I was a member of Toastmasters International at my local club, Casterbridge Speakers, in Dorchester. I’d written and given many speeches in the years I was there, but this is one, titled ‘The guru, the hero, the lover and me’, I wrote but never delivered. I thought it might be nice to share it here, just in case, there is anyone out there thinking (or fearing) giving a presentation sometime soon.
I’d like you to think about the following question. What do Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Anthony Robbins, and Martin Luther King have in common?
If you thought something along the lines of ‘they all had the ability to stand on a public stage and capture the imagination of those that listened to them’ you would be right. They weren’t just speakers, they were orators.
In this post, I’d like to share with you my three friends, the guru, the hero, and the lover. These three friends of mine are the perfect role model for those on a journey towards oratorical success and their helpful observations can be harnessed to make your next speech truly memorable.
There is one element that almost all speakers struggle with when presenting. You will have noticed it but not been aware of it when listening; you will have been aware that there was something missing but not known what it was when speaking; and this feeling of ‘missing out’ on an important part of the experience can leave us feeling slightly frustrated and bewildered.
And this is where my three friends, the Guru, the Lover, and the Hero can step in and save the day.
If I were to bring my friend, the Guru onto the stage to speak, you would know instantly that here was someone you could trust. His manner is one of confidence as he directs his eye to members of the audience. His voice is authoritative. It is neither too high nor to too low, it is evenly paced, and he speaks with a clarity of purpose that marks him out to be the wise man and guru that he is.
By contrast, my friend the Hero bounds onto the stage, she is full of energy and this communicates itself to the audience immediately. She directs your eye, here, there, and everywhere. You aren’t quite sure what is coming next, but her delivery captures your imagination and you feel pulled along with her enthusiasm. She speaks quickly and forcefully, and you will feel that here is someone who can tell you exactly what you need to do with your life, and you are prepared to part with cash to grab just a part of her world. This woman is the Oprah Winfrey of the speaking world and she has the world sitting right at her feet and she knows it.
When I bring the Lover onto the stage though you will feel that you are alone amongst strangers, this speaker speaks only to you because their eyes never leave yours. The voice is low, sensuous, and melodic; the pace is slow, it is almost as if you are being verbally licked all over and you will feel so special that if they were to suggest you jump off the nearby cliff naked you would probably do so.
If you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed that the one thing that made each of my three friends stand out was the way they used their voice. Their sense of presence on the stage and the energy they transmit is directly related to the tone, timbre, and pace of the voice they use. When they spoke your own energy and emotions were raised and lowered in line with theirs and as a result, you gave them the ability to further capture your attention and imagination.
The next time you give a speech, think about the topic you are about to present and imagine how the Guru, the Hero, and the Lover could help you to deliver a speech that is worthy of being labeled ‘great’.