June 2, 2014 fm

Inspiration Starts With The Letter I

The other day I read a blog post on public speaking. It spoke about six not-to-dos when we speak in public. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read one of them…

The inspiring speech is the queen of speeches. Its general purpose is not to inform; it’s not to entertain, it’s not to persuade. The general purpose of an inspiring speech is to make the audience think and feel different after listening to the speaker. MLK’s I have a dream is one of history’s most powerful queens of speeches.

Let’s focus on the key phrase – I have a dream.

Did he say, One has a dream? No, he didn’t.

Did he say, You have a dream? No, he didn’t.

Did he say, We have a dream? No, he didn’t.

I have a dream – that’s what he said. MLK knew that inspiration starts with an I.

When inspirational arrows hit me in life, I feel something. When popular public speakers or everyday communicators launch those inspirational arrows, I get goose bumps. I feel something in my guts; I feel something in my heart.

Stories about Mother Teresa, Mohammed Ali or Mark Twain are nice. Stories about neighbors, family members or friends are nice. But all these are not inspirational arrows; they are informative soap bubbles.

In Toastmasters International we organize an International Speech Contest once a year. It starts on club level, moves on to area, division, and district. The winners of more than 80 districts in the world meet and compete at the World Championship of Public Speaking. And they all have one thing in common. All winners of speech competitions on district level tell a personal story. It’s about their mistakes and their lessons learned. It’s about their failures, which turn them into better persons. It’s about their loss, their love, their life. They know that inspiration starts with an I.

It’s also your personal stories that inspire me. Your failure inspires me. Your weakness inspires me. Your success inspires me. Your strength inspires me. Your pride inspires me. Your struggle inspires me. Your respect inspires me. You don’t have to be MLK to share your dream.

I wasn’t inspired at all when I read that blog post the other day. The writer reckoned to use less “I” and more “You”. The audience will always be the main protagonist, yes. But the source of inspiration will always be the speaker; it will always be you!

My inspiration starts with your I.

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