Yesterday I had a speaking engagement at Queen Ethelburga's College, a prestigious school just outside of York. I was very excited about this opportunity to speak to these students, however, my excitement was really an underestimation of the fun that I did end up having. It is this fun, this joy that I received from talking to the 6th form students that has made me realise just what a passion I have for speaking, for telling my story, and for motivating and inspiring others to live their lives to their full potential.
My day began with a talk given to the first group of 6th Formers. This group was mostly made up of International students (mainly from China and Russia), so for many English wasn't their first language. This did concern me a little, but once I started talking and saw the attention and interest that was evident on their faces, I quickly relaxed and continued to speak with my heart. The students did ask questions at the end and seemed genuinely interested in what advice I could offer. This first talk, though successful, felt a little like a warm up for what was to come.
After this first talk and having a few hours before my next group of 6th Formers, I went and sat informally with a P.E. group and chatted about the Paralympics, Sport in general, Australia, and generally bonded with the students and in the process motivating and inspiring them to go after their dreams, to realise that we can all achieve, that we "can all do it!"
It was then time for a spot of lunch (generously provided by the school) and a cup of tea, before moving onto my final talk of the day. It is this talk that cemented my feelings about being a speaker, that made my passion emerge crystal clear in the power that I have to motivate and inspire just by telling my story and sharing my ideas and thoughts. The only way I can really describe the talk is as a humorous, joyous, collective experience. If I could emulate this talk, recreate it for every talk that I do in the future, then I will reach a pinnacle, a closeness to perfection (but never absolute perfection, you see I despise absolute perfection, there is little beauty, imagination, or intelligence in it). So what made this talk so successful in my eyes? It was the chemistry that was evoked between myself and the students, a playing off each other that opened dialogue, that created an atmosphere of mutual respect. As a speaker this is a magical moment, a time when to talk to your audience is an absolute pleasure. With the flow, the humour, the ideas and the analogies, I know that the students came away with a great experience, because I had a great experience.
This magical moment, this almost perfect talk, has culminated in the possibility of repeat work with the school - of which would be a pleasure on my part. My day yesterday was a great day in my speaking career and has created a standard for myself of which I will emulate and eventually surpass. Do you have any magical moments such as this? where your performance, talk, race, engagement was more than you could have imagined? and how have you captured that again?
(Here I am giving my talk at Queen Ethelburga's College, near York. It was a tight squeeze in the lecture theatre, but it made for a more intimate space.)