May 31, 2013

No one knows your experience except for you



In a recent Huffington Post article, visual and performance artist Lia Chavez described her experience of giving her first lecture.

"It was Dr. Maria Jaschok -- the tall, elegant redhead at the helm of IGS -- who encouraged me to give my first ever lecture at Oxford's International Women's Day Festival. The prospect of giving my first public speech to a group of cultivated intellectuals was unnerving. What did I have to teach these incredible women?

To this, Jaschok gave me the stellar piece of advice:

'No one knows your experience except for you. It is utterly unique and everyone will come for the opportunity to learn something that only you can share.'

Thanks to that initial push, what felt like a baptism by fire at the time has since emboldened me to lecture confidently at numerous institutions internationally. All those initial feelings of disorientation eventually opened up to a wondrous sense of what is possible when one journeys into the unknown regions of herself and listens."

I work with a lot of speakers who agonize over how to stand out from the crowd, from the others who speak on the same or similar topics. Sometimes it seems as if everything has been said before. And what's the point of saying it again?

There are two simple answers to this question:

1. People haven't heard it all.
2. People haven't heard it from you.

Surprisingly, although it does seem that everything has been said, that doesn't necessarily mean everyone has heard everything that's been said! Your message is still going to be new to many people, and those are the people who are going to come hear you speak -- exactly because your message is new to them.

But also...

Even if people have heard the message before or a variation on the message, they haven't heard your version of the message. Your lifetime of knowledge and experience is absolutely unique to you, and only you can tell your own story. Only you can deliver your message in this particular way, with your own style, personality and individual expression.

You have something to say, you have your own way of saying it, and people want to hear it. So get out and speak!

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