The Heart of a Good Speech

I just completed the second week of my corporate speaking workshop.  This is my first time teaching a 7-week workshop that ends in a showcase I call, “A Night of Kick Butt Inspiration.”

Right now, my students are focused on finding their ideal topic to speak about (their “core premise”).

To help them, I came up with this formula:

“You know how people have trouble with insert problem?  Well, I’m going to show you how you can insert solution.”

I was pretty excited with the results, because the students who’ve completed this exercise all came up with fairly solid premises on which to build a speech.  But what was even more exciting for all of us was the NEXT exercise - because it did more than just help them use their head to come up with a topic.  It opened up their hearts -- and they discovered why they have a burning desire to share their stories.

The question to start the exercise was:

“When in your life were you at a place when you were so down that you really needed inspiration?”

After a little time to ponder, everybody started talking about those certain moments in their lives: the day they got fired, when they were bullied, the time when they were too broke to buy food -- and other things way too personal too mention in a public blog.

When each student revealed that most trying time -- it became obvious that how they dealt with it was their most authentic premise - because it came from the heart.  

To build on those insights, I told each person in the class to imagine a specific person, maybe someone going through the same difficulties - or worse -- who really needed to hear their message in the audience.  This person could be a parent, a boss, or for many, even a younger version of themselves.  

Something about the realization of how what they had to share could change the life of someone close - or could have changed their own life - made material start to flow freely -- along with tears.

And that’s where I learned something.  We speakers find that we speak most effectively -- about what we need to learn ourselves.

- Judy Carter

Author of The Comedy Bible, Motivational-Humorist, and Comedy Coach. Coming in 2013 "Make a Career Out of The Message of You."

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Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.