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Your Higher Speaking Purpose


I taught two sections of public speaking in the fall of 2010 at Kennesaw State University, the third largest university in the University of System of Georgia.  You hear the old clique, kids are different today than when I was in school – and there’s some truth to that – but maybe not in the way a lot of people think.  Kids today have dreams.  They have ideals.  Their speeches ranged through all kinds of topics but as a whole, they were pretty amazing.  One of my students put it well:

I heard from classmates wanting to have an impact in things ranging from political and religious issues to ethical issues like the sex slave trade. It was so encouraging to see a generation of students who are desperately eager to impact the world we live in. I think this was the coolest thing I experienced in the class. It painted a beautiful picture of our desire to leave an impact on our world. I know this has little to do with public speaking but it was just so cool to see students use the platform they were given to do something way bigger than themselves, something that will be significant. I tell my friends and family about this class often. It has been the most enjoyable class I have had at KSU.

I too was impressed with the interest and the fervor the students showed toward their topics.  It gave me great comfort in this next generation.

Your Topic Needs to Mean Something to You, Even in Business

The comment of this student came back to me when I was speaking with the 2002 World Champion of Public Speaking, Dwayne G. Smith.  He advises people that when you speak, your topic “has to mean something to you,” it has to be something you want to “share with the world.”

Sometimes when we speak in a business settings, we forget this.  Maybe we need to step back and think about the greater good that our products and services do for our clients.  The impact that we have and how we contribute to the bigger picture.

I remember hearing in a training class that as leaders and managers, it is important to motivate our people to a higher purpose for your company.  At the time, I was a manager of a group of software developers working on a customer care and billing system for a major wireless carrier.  My first thought was, “How do I make developing software sound significant to a higher purpose?”  Then I thought about how cell phones had impacted my life.  How I’d received the phone call that said there’s been an accident.  Or a phone call that said there’d been a birth.  I thought about all the important phone calls that were being made every day.  Those phone calls mattered.  And those phone calls are what I talked to my staff about.  Maybe modifying a software program to account for a new marketing promotion didn’t see that glamorous.  But being part of a company that gives people the ability to make important phone calls – that was a higher purpose.  That was something worthy of believing in.

So what is your organization’s higher purpose?  How are you contributing to a bigger picture?  As you approach your presentations, think about what means something to you.  Think about your organization’s impact toward their higher purpose.  Think about how you connect with your audience and encourage them toward something bigger.  You’ve got something important to say.  Say it.