Tell Your Story Through Speech

Many students struggle to find their voice, passion, and true calling. In college we become exposed to many ideas, thoughts, people, and our brain is constantly comparing these experiences to prior experiences. Many of us experience events, but never allow ourselves to speak about them. These experiences might be too personal, or they simply fall off your cognitive radar. Everyone has a story and if each of us believed our story wasn’t important or “empowering enough”, then we will not learn about one another nor walk in shoes that don’t belong to us. 

But what if I actually don’t have something that ignites my passion?! What if I don’t have a story?! Think again. You have been given a life and experiences, thus you have a story. J When my students in my Public Speaking classes tell me the same thing, “but I don’t know what to talk about!” the first thing I ask is “Well, what are you interested in? What makes you excited? Angry? Happy?” The answers have varied from dogs, environmental concerns, yoga, social justice issues, and right back to our furry friends. 

Brainstorm … What do I want to share? 

  • Are you sharing an idea or belief?  
  • Are you sharing an experience? 
  • Are you sharing a story that has been told? 

Continue brainstorming …. Why am I sharing this? 

  • Is your goal to persuade your audience of something?  
  • Is your goal to inform your audience on a topic?  
  • Is your goal to narrate an occurrence/experience?   
  • Is your goal to celebrate an event? 

Preparing Your Speech 

Stay authentic: The most important aspect of preparing a speech about yourself is staying authentic. Do not present an image that is not you. Audiences connect with speakers who are relatable, honest, and provide “raw” material. Audiences want to see the human side of speakers, thus when sharing your story – be true to yourself and your audience.  

Take notes: Scribble away in your journal, planner, or whatever paper is near. For me- that has happened to be the notes app on my phone. J Write down ideas, bullet points, or even quotes/phrases that stand out to you.  

Develop main ideas: Extend the brief notes you have taken to meaningful sentences. Try to have 3-5 main points/stories throughout your speech that you circulate around. Some main points will receive greater attention, while others are brief and are there to enhance the overall message of your speech. 

Rehearse: Rehearse your speech in front of the mirror and to family/friends. Time and record yourself. Nobody, at least none that I know, enjoy hearing themselves talk – so it’s OKAY if you don’t appreciate your voice!! 

Deep breaths… This is YOUR story. YOUR speech. No one can say it better nor knows it more than you. 

Mariam Elgafy

Featured photo by Chau Pham

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