When you have a compassion for a subject – you might find yourself thrust upon the stage with a microphone in your hand. A scary thought for almost anyone — especially a hillbilly like myself with a thick southern drawl. But it worked for Jeff Foxworthy and Dolly Parton!
Tell the truth and speak from the heart is the very best advice for any cause you support. You can never really uplift anything you do not really believe in with all your heart. (Unless your starring in an infomercials)
Sometimes speaking “locally” is harder than “nationally” – the locals are people you see in the grocery store without the primping. The pit stop for a burger after mowing the lawn and weeding the garden. You know the locals know the real you beyond the facade in which you cannot hide behind.
I’ve found myself being almost two people. The me here at home, and the me that is an advocate for missing & unidentified. A couple of years ago I was able to start blending these two people into one. Both personalities were the real me and comfortable, but they were still separate.
Opportunities to change jobs and actually work in the field in which I advocated was the catalyst that allowed the beginning of this merger. Until that point I think I felt I had to keep things separate. But I think it is much less complicated to be just one person. The demands of the cause itself are moving at a more and more accelerated pace.
Speaking at national events in other states was always so much easier. I’d put myself in “work mode” and stay in that persona until the task was complete. Speaking to local schools where you knew the students and teachers, different story. Shifting gears locally was almost impossible. As much as I would try to go into work mode, I would fall back into my natural state.
I had to develop a new and more relaxed me that is the same near and far. I now use a bit of humor to break the ice in national events. I prefer to engage and involve the audience and let them become part of conversation as opposed to lecture. I usually have no fully prepared speech, just a few bullet points. If I have a power point, chances are I’ll stray from the format.
At one time I felt such pressure to create the “perfect speech” and it never came. Now each talk is a one of a kind thing. Some are better than others – as are most conversations. I decided to be OK with that. Some talks are better than others and now I can blame the audience for half of the outcome!
Public speaking is not for everyone. But I now many great conversationalist in the missing and unidentified world that could easily adapt that conversation into a larger crowd.
Bottom line is if you find yourself in a position to talk about what you care about – relax. Let yourself find the path that let’s you be yourself.