What motivates people? How can I use my life story to motivate others? These are the questions that I ask myself each time I sit down to prepare a motivational speech.
I have been a member of Toastmasters for more than three years. Right from the start, I wanted to learn how to speak well so that I could become a motivational speaker.
I have a number of chronic illnesses. I need my entire digestive system transplanted. I do not eat; I am fed intravenously through a catheter into a vein near my heart. I suppose it is fair to say that I am very unwell. Nonetheless, I am lucky enough to be a very positive and determined person, and I have learned a few tricks in living with my illnesses that I think can be helpful to others.
In truth, much of what I say to people in my motivational speeches is common sense that anyone could come up with. But coming from me it has a stronger effect on people. Why is that? I think it is pretty simple. If anyone has a good enough reason to quit, it is me. But I keep on going … if I can keep on going, then people with smaller problems — problems that are still real, but just smaller — might feel that they can keep on going too. My refusal to quit motivates others to refuse to quit, even when things get hard.
What is the one thing I would say to people who would like to become a motivational speaker? You have to care about your audience. I really care about people. I really care about their stories. We all have a story to tell. I think that, if people don’t know that you care, they won’t listen and they won’t remember. So when I get asked questions in the Q&A session after my speeches, I am really interested to hear what others have been through, and how they have kept on going and refused to quit. I think my care for them really comes across. That is important to me.
Perhaps being a ‘card-carrying’ motivational speaker is not for everyone. But I think that everyone in Toastmasters is a motivational speaker in their own way. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been speaking for years, every time you speak or evaluate or mentor in Toastmasters, you are helping to motivate your fellow Toastmasters to learn and improve, which I think is the purpose of Toastmasters: to all grow in our public speaking . . . together.
[Editor’s note: there will be a future article from Jason on his “tricks … that … can be helpful to others”.]