I have been a professional speaker for over 18 years, alongside the various entrepreneurial endeavors that have kept me busy over the last couple of decades.
It is a great privilege. Speaking is a truly wonderful way to make a living. I get to travel all around the world, having done paid speaking engagements in 30 countries so far. I learn in every engagement, in preparing to do the best job possible each time and by being exposed to a wonderful diversity of people, organizations, and industries. And I love the performance of professional speaking, stemming from my younger days as a musician.
However speaking must be done with purpose.
As an aspiring speaker it seemed presumptuous to expect to have a lasting effect on people by speaking for 40 minutes or so.
Yet over time I met a number of people who in telling me their life stories said that a turning point for them was hearing a speaker who changed their perspectives, turned a light on for them, and prompted them to change their lives.
It is possible to have a massive impact on people, simply by speaking to them.
As a futurist part of my role is to inform people about emerging trends and possibilities that they may not have been fully aware of, and as a speaker be entertaining and engaging in the process.
However that is far from sufficient.
My real job is to change people, to make them think differently, and if at all possible act differently to reflect their changed understanding.
Unless the people in my audience are changed from my speech, I have failed, I have wasted my time and theirs.
Entertainment and education are good, but in the times in which we live, far from enough.
Anyone who has the temerity to stand in front of a group of people and speak should have the clear intention of changing their audience in a positive way.
It’s a tough ask.
But being a speaker has responsibilities as well as rewards.
Next time you speak to an audience, start with a purpose of changing them. That is the true role of a speaker.
Image: Wikimedia2009 Beatrice Murch