Stage Time: Wolfgang’s Secret to Finding Your Voice

By Darren LaCroix | Master Public Speaking

Have you found your voice as a speaker?Have you found your voice? Is your voice active? Passive? Is it the voice of hope? Are you the voice of reason? How about the voice of rebellion? Some presenters may say words on stage but have no real voice. No matter what subject matter you speak about, on or off stage, you can still have a voice somewhere inside. The question is, are you using it?

Who is Wolfgang? In this case, Wolfgang is not a famous composer of years gone by or a new guru you have never heard of. He is a character in the Vegas show, Rock of Ages.

As you may know if you have been reading my articles for a while, I can’t turn off my speaker coach’s brain no matter where I am. Creative insights and metaphors from all areas of life give me ideas to help you on your journey. My goal is to help you tell your story. Remember,

“To be memorable, you must master your message.” Click To Tweet

If you and I are going to master our message, we need to find our voice. Last week my friend got me tickets to see the Vegas show, Rock of Ages. In the 80’s rock musical, Drew, one of the main characters, grew up in South Detroit. He went to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a rocker, although he is currently a bar-back at the world famous L.A. rock club, The Bourbon Room.

Dennis DuPree, the owner of the Bourbon Room, is the decision-maker and has the ability to give Drew his shot at stardom. Drew is a likable character and works hard at the Bourbon room, hoping some day he’ll get his big break. Drew has already chosen his stage name. He enthusiastically calls himself Wolfgang Von Colt!

He learns from Dennis that if you want to make it, you can’t be a cover band. You need to be original and have your own songs. So, Wolfgang starts writing, but he hasn’t had much experience at it, and his lyrics are shallow and quirky.

Then Drew meets a pretty girl, Sherry. He falls for her big time. They fall head over heels for each other, but due to bad communication, she thinks he is not interested. She then goes for the bad guy, and Drew’s heart is broken.

Dennis has a cancellation and is looking for a new opening act. Though he likes Drew and wants to help, when he hears Drew’s cheesy lyrics he shakes his head and offers him some advice. He asks, “Drew, what do you really care about?” Drew realizes he loves Sherry and writes about his feelings for her. Drew, A.K.A. Wolfgang, finds his voice. He writes more passionately and from a deeper place. This yields better results.

Whether you and I are on stage or writing an article, we are much more convincing when we find our voice. Our passion and perspective come through.

“When you combine your passion and your perspective, you find your voice.” Click To Tweet

Here is an example. Though I really have only four main presentations that I give, I constantly try to tighten and improve them. Once a year I also force myself to create an entirely new presentation for our annual summer event Lady & the Champs Speakers Conference. Many of the same people come back to this event each year. First, I create a new presentation for them, those who attend year after year. Secondly, I do it for my own growth. If we are not growing, we are dying.

“Change is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”Last year my new presentation was “Your Hero’s Journey.” At that time in my life, I realized that I was self-generating drama. I would make challenges bigger in my head than they really were. When I had to upgrade a piece of software in my computer, I would avoid it, because I was so busy I did not have time to learn about the changes to use the program. The little annoying upgrade notice would drive me batty.

Knowing this was my challenge, I wanted to help others by delivering that message. So, I wrote about what I cared about. I started collecting examples and metaphors to help other people. That collection became the starting point of my presentation. Through the process, I got clear that my message was about change and how to deal with it. My dyslexia sometimes gives me creative advantages. I mistakenly stumbled on this idea:

“Change is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.” Click To Tweet

Wow. It was perfect. It made a great point while twisting a classic phrase. That was my message. Often we make change worse in our heads than it really is. Had I not been passionate about the message, I probably would not have worked hard enough or deep enough to discover that idea. More likely I would not have noticed its brilliance and would have continued right past that little verbal mistake.

Did you ever see presenters who are passionate about their messages? There is an enticing energy there. Feeling that energy helps us forgive many grammar and presentation structure mistakes. You and I need to remember this when we determine what we will write about and when we are actually writing.

There is a third reason you need to know about finding your voice. It is probably the most important. Your voice changes as you do. World Champion Speaker Craig Valentine gave an amazing speech titled “Snake Bite.” It was so good, in fact, that it was the speech that helped him win the semifinals of the World Championship of Public Speaking and gave him the opportunity to compete on the big stage.

Even though that was over a decade ago, some still talk about the power of that message. Sometimes he is asked why he doesn’t tell that story at all these days. Craig smiles and says, “Because I don’t live there anymore.” You see, the speech is about a challenge that he overcame a long time ago. He doesn’t tell it anymore because the message is no longer his passion or his perspective. It is not where he lives. Craig gets it. Your voice should change as you do.

Here is why I love this Rock of Ages metaphor. I come across many new emerging speakers who love speaking and want to do it for a living (the dream). They want to speak, but they begin by writing cheesy lyrics (shallow words and topics) or by trying to be their speaking heroes (cover bands). They have not found their voice (what they really are about). Sometimes they dismiss great advice by mentors (Dennis). If they listen and speak about what they really care about and want to say, they will find their voice (write their own songs).

Hanging out with friend & fellow speaker, Dave ChaseMost emerging speakers do not realize that their value comes from their perspective combined with their passion. Most people undervalue their perspective and allow that fear of rejection to spook them from really speaking their mind. Many emerging speakers allow wanting to be liked to outweigh the risk of finding their true voice.

How will you know when you have found your voice? When your authenticity oozes out of your pores and you tell your story to the right audience in way that people enthusiastically thank you for sharing your message. “Atta boy” pats on the back never built a career.

Do you really want to find your voice? Do you really have a message that matters? If you are alive, you do. Many are not willing to go that deep to find it. How would you answer if Dennis asked you, “What do you really care about?”

Please share your thoughts below!

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