Speak With Passion: An Opportunity For Personal Growth


(Photo by Joanna Penn)

If you’re like most speakers, when you’re preparing to give a speech you’re focused on memorizing your speech and your delivery. You  know that a great speech is a gift to your audience. But there’s also a way to give yourself a huge gift as a side-effect of your speech.

Before you take the stage, think of a single word that conveys an personally important aspirational meaning to you, for example: confidence, joy, breathe, smile, or success. It’s important that it’s a single word, since you literally only have a second for this technique. Choose a word with a positive connotation that’s truly important – something that you want more of in your life, or a feeling that you want to convey to your audience. Got your word?

As you come onto the stage, remember your word fondly. Don’t force the word through mentally gritted teeth. Smile inwardly. Think of the experience of having more of this word in your life. Now begin your speech.

As your speech has natural breaks for you to breathe or for people to applaud to show slides, remember your word again.

As you end your speech (or even, after you give your speech and before you leave the stage), remember the word again. Don’t force this drill. Remember, it’s a gift you’re giving to yourself.

So, how can remembering a single word change your life? While you’re onstage, your audience has given you a huge gift – their attention. This attention is a sea of opportunity for you energetically. Everyone wants to hear a great speech, so they’re sending you positive hopeful thoughts. By using an affirmation, you’re using helping to ground their energy in your personal growth.

If you’re not a “new-agey” person, who thinks this is all silly mumbo-jumbo, I encourage you to suspend your disbelief. Consider this story:

An American scientist once visited the offices of the great Nobel prize-winning physicist, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen. He was amazed to find that over Bohr’s desk was a horseshoe, securely nailed to the wall, with the open end up in the approved manner (so it would catch the good luck and not let it spill out). The American said with a nervous laugh, “Surely you don’t believe the horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr? After all, as a scientist –”

Bohr chuckled.

“I believe no such thing, my good friend. Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not.”


One thought on “Speak With Passion: An Opportunity For Personal Growth

  1. Jay,

    Great tip on holding onto one word for a “1-second affirmation”. I’ve heard of connecting a positive memory to a word and to a physical activity (fist pump, etc.), but this is so much more direct.

    I can definitely use this. Thanks,

    Bruce Koren

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.