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, when on stage, may say words 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 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.”
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, one of the main characters, Drew, grew up in South Detroit but went to L.A. to pursue his dream of being a rocker though he is currently a bar back at the world-famous rock L.A. club, The Bourbon Room.
Dennis Dupree, the owner of the Bourbon Room, is the decision-maker and can give Drew his shot at stardom. Drew is a likable character and works hard at the Bourbon Room, hoping someday he’ll get his big break. Drew already has his stage name. He enthusiastically gave himself a stage name, 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. Not having much experience writing, he just starts writing. His lyrics are shallow and quirky.
Then, Drew meets a pretty girl, Sherry. He falls for her, big time. Though they fall head over heels for each other, she thinks he is not interested due to poor communication. She then goes for the bad guy. Drew is heartbroken.
Dennis has a cancelation 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 how he feels about her. Drew, A.K.A. Wolfgang, finds his voice, and he starts writing more passionately and from a deeper place. It 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.”
Here is an example. Though I only have four main presentations, I constantly try to tighten and improve them. Once a year, I force myself to create an entirely new presentation for our annual event, GAME CHANGERS. I do this for two reasons. This event has many of the same people who come back each year. First, I do it for them, those who attend year after year. Secondly, I do it for my personal growth. If we are not growing, we are dying.
One of my new keynotes was titled: 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 what they truly were. When I needed to upgrade a piece of software on 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 this message that 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 the idea that;
“Change is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”
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 continued right past that little verbal mistake.
Have you ever seen a presenter who was sincerely passionate about their message? There is enticing energy to it, and feeling that energy helps us forgive many grammar and presentation structure mistakes. You and I need to remember this when we are writing and, more importantly, what we write about.
There is a third reason you need to know about finding your voice. It is probably most important. It is that your voice changes as you do. World Champion Speaker Craig Valentine gave an amazing speech titled Snake Bite. It was so good that it was the speech that helped him win the World Championship of Public Speaking semi-finals and allowed him the opportunity to compete on the big stage.
Even though that was over a decade ago, some still talk about the power of the message. Sometimes Craig 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 he faced that he overcame a long time ago. He doesn’t deliver it anymore because the message is no longer his passion or his perspective. It is not where he lives, and Craig gets it! Your voice should change as you do.
Here is why I love this Rock of Ages metaphor. I have come across many new emerging speakers who love speaking and want to do it for a living. (The dream). They want to speak but begin by writing cheesy lyrics (shallow words and topics) or trying to be their speaking heroes (cover bands). They have not found their voice. (What they are really about). Sometimes they dismiss great advice from 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). Most emerging speakers do not realize their value comes from their perspective combined passion. Most people undervalue their perspective and allow that fear of rejection to spook them from really speaking their minds. Many emerging speakers allow the wanting of being liked to outweigh the risk of finding their true voice. How will you know when you found your voice? When your authenticity oozes out of your pores, and you tell your story to the right audience, in a way that people enthusiastically thank you for sharing your message. “That a 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 I really care about?”