Public speaking is as old as history. We find traces of it as far as Greece, at the time when it was the birthplace of democracy.
This “art” or practice goes back a long way in human history, yet there nothing more current and modern. Speaking in a meeting in front of colleagues to present your recent activity or to defend a proposal, making a toast with the family, contributing to the debate during an association meeting, passing an interview… All this belongs to public speaking.
The opportunities are endless and sometimes the stakes can be high. And we are all struggling with this exercise. We find it more or less difficult and we are and more or less able to pretend. But we all face difficulty there.
Toastmasters, which I discovered late in 2014, allows club members to practice speaking in public, to progress both thanks to the educational paths “Pathways” developed and offered by Toastmasters International and thanks to the to interactions with others. Seeing seasoned speakers do their thing, imitating them or getting inspiration from them, seeing beginners struggle, measuring the progress you have made, helping beginners to progress and progress also by doing it.
This is the Toastmasters experience … or at least the beginning of the experience.
You quickly discover that the Toastmasters universe is percolated with the notion of “leadership” and quickly realize that the two notions are intimately linked.
When you want to speak in public, it’s never to explain brilliantly that you have nothing to say. When we speak in front of an audience, it is necessarily to bring something … fun, inspiration, ideas, awareness, desire for change…
It cannot be nothing!
Hence speaking necessarily has a motivation (whether conscious or not). The desire to have an impact (no matter if it is a big or a small impact) on the world. The desire to induce something, to inspire a change, to improve the world around us a least a little bit.
And this ability to influence (even a little) the world and the people around us is what I found most accurate to describe the idea of leadership.
An entrepreneur who starts up an initiative to reduce global warming is a leader, but a storyteller who helps his audience to escape from reality for a few moments is also a leader, a friend who alleviates your pain with his words is also a leader, parents who inspire their children and give them human values or a teacher who communicates the desire to learn and progress are just as much leaders.
And our world needs leaders and speakers more than ever to inspire change …