Time to step up to the next stage!
This feels like the next step in my personal life – I want to start speaking to crowds as soon as possible. For a long time I’ve been personally thinking about this and I’ve always enjoyed speaking and performing. My story with speeches began back at high-school, at around the age of 15. I remember it so clearly, it was this course about Finnish language focusing mostly in oral presentation and argumentation. We had to choose a topic of which to hold a fifteen minute presentation about. My topic for this class wasn’t really of the most inspirational kind: McDonalds. During my speech I uncovered how influential the company is in not so familiar topics: the toy side of business and brand recognition. This speech was a real success and after it I felt just amazing. But in this text I want to tell you a bit about my own history with speaking and the direction of my future performances.
Let’s get into it!
My Past With Speaking
Besides the kick-start to speaking in high-school of which I briefly mentioned previously, I’ve had a couple more significant occasions that really taught me about speaking and hooked me into the art, of which I want to write here. The first one that comes to my mind is the high-school graduation speech which I was honored to carry out five years ago. So far it’s been my biggest crowd and was a real source of stress for a young guy. It was a crowd of a couple hundred people compiling of my fellow graduates, their families and our teachers. The topic was quite free, with just a couple recommendations and tips coming from my teachers.
The writing was so difficult.
I remember struggling, just sitting in front of my computer waiting for that genius speech to write itself. You know that feeling when you stare at the screen with your brain totally empty? You just see that small vertical line blinking, waiting for you to write. NOTHING. But you know how every great speech appears and how you get the artist out from yourself? By drinking. As I got frustrated, I turned to whiskey to help me with this hell of a chore. After a couple of glasses, the speech was almost writing itself. My hands were the vessel through which my past memories in high-school came to life in the word document. After the 5-minute inspirational speech was completed, we trained it in front of our Finnish language teachers a couple times with them giving me tips on pronunciation, stress, speed etc. I was ready, but very nervous. Eventually it all went very well and I was equipped with a very significant lesson on writing a speech and carrying it out.
The next one that comes to mind is when I was competing in Nordic Business Forum Shanghai case-competition with team Finland. We had this case study regarding a car manufacturer acquisition, where we had 24 hours to come up with and present our thoughts on the case and the future of it. We were competing against the 4-person teams of Denmark, Sweden and Norway here and we managed to win the whole thing. The speech was the most stressful part, again. The judges compiled of the company in question’s CEO and a Norwegian business university’s Principle, both listening to you speak with stone cold, analytical pair of eyes. You know what was the worst thing though? We were the dead last to present and had seen all the freaking good presentations of others beforehand. We gave it our best, sucked in all the experience the event had to offer and we conquered it. Another significant lesson in the bag.
And the third and last one I want to mention here, is when I got the honor to host my brothers wedding in the summer of 2017. Just one week after my return home from Shanghai! My role was to host the whole event, coordinate the time and also have one longer speech. The day was almost a continuous performance. Introduction & welcome, rules and good-to-know points, informing people of events & food and lastly the speech. As a crowd your family and my brother’s wife’s family are a special one. It’s easy to speak to groups that you don’t know too well, but speaking to family and people you know very well makes me at least feel more anxious. But in the end, I only made one mistake and really enjoyed the whole experience. About the mistake I would want to blame my brother and the other “staff”, but no hard feelings. Because I wasn’t aware of this extra musical performance just before my welcoming speech and ended up started a bit too early. But I turned the situation upside down and used it as a great ice-breaker when my time came. This was the third significant lesson in my journey of speaking.
How I’ve Studied Speaking
Besides the above examples of on the field significant speaking events, I quite actively seek to educate myself about the art. I initially started studying through audiobooks and I remember my first one being Talk Like TED. It’s a book that reveals and analyzes the best practices in the world of public speaking and in general a really good book for “beginners”. Naturally YouTube is one of the biggest sources of education for me. Mostly in the form of absorbing content from channels and individuals, who are really good at communication. Through listening and looking at how true professionals carry out their performances, you get inspiration and passively adapt something to your own skill-set. But recently thanks to the ongoing audio revolution, I’ve started to listen to TED speeches. This way you get to solely focus on how these great speakers use their voice, as that’s the most significant building block of a convincing performance. I often find myself listening to 4-6 TED speeches when I’m taking a longer walk and at the same time pondering what makes this one a good or a bad one in my opinion. That’s how I have studied and currently study the art.
The Next Step
But let’s now talk about what I want to do soon. Enough about history! So I simply want to start speaking, taking myself to the stage. Currently the idea is very open, but I’m aiming towards telling about my own story, tying life lessons about courage, open-mindedness and motivation into that journey. I would love to start by simply approaching my old educational institutions and asking, whether I could test my speaking performances there to several different classes you know, as a prototype-test. The goal of this next step in life is to bring clarity and inspiration to especially people between the ages 15-25, while of course always aiming towards more significant performances. I’m planning on approaching these educational institutions soon and willing to start after next spring, close to summer. At the same time I’m nervous and excited about this, which is funny because no one is making me do this.
I want to do this by and for myself.