Changing the World, One Speech at a Time


“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”*

I so believe this.

Earlier this year I joined Toastmasters and have loved the challenge of learning the art of effective public speaking. The meetings are a highlight of my week—like a challenging sport for the mind. With that in the backdrop, I recently happened to hear Nick Morgan interviewed on a podcast, and he had my full attention. Morgan is a highly regarded speech coach and author. I picked up his book Give Your Speech, Change the World and found it extremely useful. Much of it doesn’t just apply to speeches, but also to everyday communication.

His best tip comes through loud and clear:

The single most important thing you can do to prepare a speech is to rehearse.

I love it when advice is unequivocal! Even better, he presents several different ways to rehearse. For example, you can do a run-through where you just rehearse the bones of the speech. Or you can rehearse the beginning and endings separately. Or you can rehearse while saying jibberish (but thinking the speech in your head) to focus on movement. Every speech should be rehearsed top-to-bottom at least three times, including a dress rehearsal.

I’m a writer at heart, so inherently believe in communication and self-expression. Speeches are writing delivered for the ear and eye. A speech may come in a giant or tiny package, from a PowerPoint presentation for an audience of hundreds to the start of a difficult conversation with a loved one. I believe every conversation is a speech of sorts, and I don’t want to waste those. Communicating effectively, even in these small moments– maybe especially in these small moments–can change the world.

*The quote is oft-used by speech coaches and sometimes attributed to John F. Kennedy.

Photo: Flickr/sparetomato