It’s Not Enough To Speak

I try to take a nugget of wisdom away from every Toastmasters meeting I attend. There is something to be learned from EVERY experience.

Since “the sequester” I’ve visited Toastmasters clubs all across the world and have met many amazing people. On Thursday afternoons I regularly frequent Ala Moana Toastmasters in Hawaii (D49). Today I heard an energetic speech from Joe Peach Graves. His message was simple yet powerful, and so timely for where we are as a nation today.

It is often said that to be silent .. is to be complicit. That is arguably true for many instances. But it is not enough to just speak. You have to speak in a language your listener understands. Otherwise, you could have the most beautiful .. powerful .. inspiring message in the world, and it won’t be received.

To drive this point home immediately, Joseph started his speech off in the beautiful Hawaiian language. He repeated a phrase multiple times .. first gently, then excitedly, then .. aggressively. It didn’t matter HOW he said it, or how many times. Those of us who didn’t understand the language didn’t get the power and benefit of the message.

This speech was a reminder to always consider who we are talking to. What are you listener’s life experiences, perceptions, biases. What “language” are they speaking? What do they respond to? It’s not enough to craft and deliver a speech and expect it to land simply because you want it to. You have to take the time and care to find out who you are speaking to. Remember, your message is for the audience .. not you. To ensure they get the most out of it, you have to know who they are and speak their language.

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