Finding Your Voice Begins with Finding a Message

For more than 20 years, I have been teaching people to do public speaking and here's the most important thing I have learned. School gets it backwards. People need to find their message before they can really find their voice.

Most of the college students I teach think they hate public speaking. When we work on it a little, they begin to wonder if they hate speaking about stuff they don't know very well and don't care about very much. After all, most of their assignments ask them to make presentations on concepts and information they didn't know anything about a few weeks before.

They tell me, "Miss, I still don't like this course. I still don't like public speaking." I tell them that the only thing worse than speaking in front of a room is having something you want to say and not having a voice.

Finding a message is fundamental. It's the driving force that makes it worth having a voice. But it's not sufficient. You still have to work on the basics of style and structure (that's why it's worth teaching students how to work on those basics before they really have anything to say). When you have a message and the skill to shape it with style and compassion and energy, then you can drive results.


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