What I Wish I Knew About Being A Speaker

If I knew I could speak to people for a living, I would have done it a long time ago. When I say ‘I could’, I know it was a viable option, I just didn’t know it was something I PERSONALLY could do. I thought it was just for people who were ridiculously funny or who yelled a lot. I’m a PK and so my exposure to speakers was mainly people who yelled. If you didn’t yell, you weren’t really a good speaker. My dad was automatically a good speaker because he yelled…at least that’s what it sounded like as a kid.

In the 90’s, when I was in college, a motivational speaker came to my school. I’d never heard of a motivational speaker before but this guy was pretty funny. He didn’t yell. We enjoyed him being there because all of the other grown-ups we encountered were boring. He was a breath of fresh air. He came back several times during my stint in college and I enjoyed hearing him. I even thought, “I wonder if I could do what he does. It seems fun!”

Speaking for Small Business University in Montgomery County, MD

But, I didn’t think I was funny enough. Well, I told jokes with my family but not the ha ha side splitting from the stage kind. They were the ‘oh-you-fell’ kind. Funny, but not motivational speaker material. Besides, motivational speakers had rags to riches or a dunce to doctorate story. I didn’t have those. I was a regular kid with a regular childhood. My story wasn’t that special. But that was just the point…it wasn’t that special, like so many others who felt the same way I did.

I wish I knew the story didn’t have to be traumatic to make an impact! I wish I realized there were things I’d done which weren’t exactly ordinary. I was a smart student. I’d won spelling bees in New York City. I overcame a case of shyness to start a few bands and groups. By the time I was 25, I’d written more than 100 songs. I’d go on to help produce a CD project with a group of my friends and brothers. These were pretty neat things. However, I didn’t see them as making a good story. They were just life…my life…my regular life.

That’s just it…my regular life was amazing to someone else. I found out later how much I’d impacted the lives of some of my students. I found out later how much I’d inspired some others who were quiet to come out of their shell. I found out later how much my brothers were inspired by my willingness to take risks. I wasn’t perfect. I’d had my share of flops. I still do. But, success isn’t what makes a good story. It’s the ability to persevere. Sure, it wasn’t the big Hollywood style perseverance. But, most of us don’t have that. Or maybe, I just didn’t recognize it.

Most of us don’t recognize the opportunities in our stories because we’re in it. We don’t ask for feedback as often as we need to and so we live in a fog half the time struggling for stuff we may not need to. I had a voice a long time ago. I could have used it earlier. But maybe, that was the point. I needed to wait until I recognized my story for what it truly was and is.



I’m Robert and I speak about leadership & communication. If you enjoyed this article, hang out with me to get more over at robertkennedy3.com. Sign up here to hang out.