As a business owner, I speak with many fellow entrepreneurs. I believe some of the most fascinating business owners you’ll ever meet are career coaches. I have great respect for them (starting with my own, who helped inspire the idea that eventually became The Content Interpreter), and the core message they usually impart on clients: believe in yourself. It’s absolutely essential. No matter what you’re doing, if you don’t truly believe that you’re adding value, none of your dreams or aspirations will come to pass.
At the core of this idea - one to which I fully subscribe, by the way - is that you have an ability to make an impact. As a speechwriter, I believe that words and turns of phrase have just as much power. When I work with clients, I find that it’s not that they don’t believe they can make an impact - quite the opposite, in fact.
Most people who are asked to speak are CEOs, thought leaders, entrepreneurs - people that are either at the “top of their game” or ready to step into a new spotlight. They are keenly aware that words and delivery do matter. What they need most is a reminder that it’s OK to think about themselves differently.
When I say “differently”, I don’t mean adjusting yourself or your words to fit an audience’s expectations. Although that does come into play when working with clients, it shouldn’t be at the price of losing your authenticity, or your core message or even aggressively modeling yourself after what a speaker “should” sound like.
So, when it comes to speechwriting and public speaking, you have to believe that you can make an impact, but you also have to believe that your story is impactful on its own, in and of itself. Your stories can inspire people to work with you. Your experiences can move people to act.
How do you know when your story is “enough” (for you)? Think about your answers to these three questions:
How much time have I spent with my own story?
Crafting speeches - especially when working with a speechwriter - requires a certain amount of reflection and introspection. How much time depends on the individual, but you know you’re ready when you have a clear understanding of why this story matters - on every level.
In an interview he gave years after producing Thriller (and later in a Twitter reply), Quincy Jones said that he and Michael Jackson did what “gave them the goosebumps”. He reasoned that, if the two of them were excited about the music they were making, then others would be excited, too. And, today, Thriller is still the top-selling album of all time!
So, make sure your story gives you the goosebumps!
2. Can I visualize myself giving my speech on stage?
This one is from personal experience, and I don’t have any data to back it up. Still, I think that I have always performed best when I was actually able to see myself doing a great job.
Do you feel the same way about your speech? Can you envision yourself earning your applause, or owning the moments when you’re pausing for effect? A great public speaking coach can help you work on the specifics, but if you can’t see yourself on stage with it, see #1.
3. Am I writing and speaking words that I’d actually use?
One of the most important aspects of my job as a speechwriter is to make sure that clients are speaking words they’d actually use. A common misconception about speaking in public is that the best orators will use vocabulary that indicates superior intelligence or being well-read
While those are certainly admirable traits, if audiences can sense that they’re not authentic, they will be disinterested with your speech and your message. Even worse, you will not feel comfortable delivering the speech.
Of course, you have to adjust sometimes, but the changes should be natural pivots rather than hard turns left or right. So, as I said in a previous blog post, just say it and make adjustments if needed.
Believe in yourself, yes. But, remember that belief in yourself can be transferred to others with your story, and there are few things more powerful than that. How you feel about your story is how you feel about yourself.