A Tale of Fulfillment: The Power of Purposeful Speech

In a bustling city, renowned for its diverse populace and vibrant culture, lived a young woman named Maya. She was passionate about social justice and believed in the power of community. For years, Maya had been actively involved in various local initiatives, advocating for the rights of marginalized groups. Yet, despite her fervent efforts, she often felt that her voice was lost in the noise of the city.

One day, an opportunity presented itself that could change everything. The city council announced an open forum where citizens could voice their concerns and propose solutions for pressing social issues. This forum would be attended by influential community leaders, policymakers, and the media. Maya saw this as her chance to make a significant impact.

Determined to seize this opportunity, Maya dedicated herself to preparing a speech that would not only articulate her concerns but also inspire action. She spent weeks researching, gathering data, and listening to the stories of those affected by the issues she cared about. Maya knew that for her speech to be effective, it needed to fulfill three key purposes: to inform, to persuade, and to mobilize.


On the day of the forum, the grand hall was filled with an attentive audience. When it was her turn to speak, Maya began by providing a clear and concise overview of the issues at hand. She presented statistics on homelessness, stories of discrimination, and evidence of the systemic inequalities plaguing their city. Her aim was to inform the audience, ensuring they understood the gravity of the situation.


With the foundation of facts laid out, Maya transitioned to the next purpose of her speech: persuasion. She spoke with passion and conviction, highlighting the moral imperative to act. Maya shared personal anecdotes, recounting her experiences with individuals whose lives had been devastated by injustice. She appealed to the audience’s empathy, urging them to recognize their shared humanity and the importance of standing together against oppression.


Finally, Maya focused on mobilization. She outlined a clear, actionable plan that included policy changes, community programs, and volunteer opportunities. Maya encouraged everyone present to take part in these initiatives, emphasizing that real change required collective effort. She made it easy for people to get involved, distributing pamphlets with information on how to join the movement and offering to connect interested individuals with relevant organizations.

The Outcome

Maya’s speech resonated deeply with the audience. Her ability to inform, persuade, and mobilize left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance. The media coverage brought widespread attention to the issues she highlighted, and community leaders began discussing her proposals in earnest.

In the weeks that followed, a wave of change swept through the city. New policies were implemented to address homelessness, anti-discrimination programs were funded, and community outreach initiatives flourished. Maya’s speech had fulfilled its purpose in every sense, transforming awareness into action and inspiring a city to unite for a common cause.

Through her purposeful speech, Maya demonstrated that words, when used effectively, have the power to change the world. Her story became a testament to the impact that a single, well-crafted message can have when it is designed to inform, persuade, and mobilize.


The transformation was in focus and intention. At first, my focus was all on me: “I’m going to screw this up so bad.” “I have nothing intelligent to say, and this guy will see through me in about three seconds.” “I’m Italian. I’m dumb. I can’t compete with these smart people.”

But over time I decided I wanted to win. And to win I was going to have to convince the judge — to move him or her somehow. And then it became fun. Because it was no longer about me. It was about my audience: getting listeners from here to there — changing their mind — actually having them leave the room thinking differently than when they entered. And that’s powerful.

It’s been a blast ever since.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned in my years of public speaking. If you have to knock it out of the park, follow these basic rules:

  1. Know your goal. When the speech is over, what do you want the audience saying about it and you? What difference do you want to make? Most speakers never ask this of themselves.
  2. Memorize your speech. That’s right. Memorize every word of it. Deliver it in front of a mirror five times, six times, ten times. Then deliver it while your kid is screaming in the background, to develop the confidence that you can recite it no matter what distraction pops up. Why memorize it? Because nothing will put an audience to sleep faster than someone reading from a prepared text. Because when you memorize it, it stops being about getting the words right and starts being about getting the feeling right. Imagine if Andrea Bocelli didn’t memorize the words to the songs in his repertoire. How much room do you think there would be for him to feel them?
  3. If you don’t want to knock it out of the park, don’t follow rule 2.
  4. Practice the transitions. What will get you from one point to the next? Is it “if,” or “when,” or “then I.” Know and memorize the precise construction of each transitional sentence. It’s in uncertainty about transitions from one point to the next that people lose their grace in public and start saying “aaahhhh.”
  5. Don’t fear silence. You want to silence a room? Don’t talk. Be silent and look at the audience. Five seconds. Seven seconds. Just taking them in. Connecting with them. But never do it for effect. Do it to get intimate with your audience. It silences a room like you wouldn’t believe. Why? Because it’s not normal. Audiences are used to speakers filling every nanosecond with the sound of their own voice, leaving zero time for reflection. Audiences are used to being avoided, not appreciated. When they come upon someone who can command their own silence, they understand, “This person is serious.”
  6. Never, ever, ever use PowerPoint as your speech notes. The slides are for your audience, not for you. The moment they see you rattling through a list of bullets that you should have had the courtesy to memorize, they put you in a category with every other boring presenter they’ve ever seen and you’ve lost them.
  7. Give something of yourself. Don’t be afraid to feel something in front of an audience. Don’t be afraid to say something that will make you feel something, and that will make the audience feel something.
  8. Be yourself. Don’t feel you need to mimic the testosterone level of a motivational speaker. You will look and feel fake. Robert Kennedy never tried to copy Martin Luther King’s rhetorical skills. RFK was soft-spoken. He owned that. And as a result, was every bit as affecting as King.

The Power of Body Language

Body language is part of non-verbal communication. It is the combination of movements, gestures, and postures. This includes the way a speaker talks, moves and looks on stage. Body language is part of the message a speaker wants to give.

Many people only think body language is only about the way you position yourself on stage. This is a big part of it, but there is much more. Body language shows your confidence. The right attitude on stage gives you an air of authority, which supports your story.

The importance of body language in public speaking

Why is body language important? You can say that having the wrong body language makes that your talk almost can’t be a success. You need a lot of talent on other elements to make up for bad body language.

Some examples of bad body language include: turning your back to the audience, moving around too much or hiding behind a desk. Gesturing also can have a bad influence on your talk. Being too aggressive in your gestures, drumming your fingers or even biting your nails are also bad examples.

But even when you aren’t doing a bad job, improving your body language can have a big effect. Especially on the way, the audience receives your talk. It can make a difference between a nice talk and actually persuading people. This is why it is important for everyone to pay attention to.

What to pay attention to

Good body language means you are paying attention to different elements. For example, you have to know how to move, where to look, where to stand and what gestures to make.

Looking at your audience

Are you looking towards your audience? Or are you one of those speakers who have a tendency to look behind you at the screen? Are you giving your entire audience the attention and not just a happy few?

Where are you on stage?

As a speaker, you always have to be aware of where you are on stage. It means you have to think about where you will sit in a panel discussion and where to (not) move to when walking around.

Importance of facial expressions: are you smiling?

Did you know for example that smiling makes people more comfortable with you as a speaker? Your facial expressions are extremely important in public speaking. The way you look says a lot about how you feel and about your message. At the same time, you don’t want to be smiling through a very serious story. Your facial expressions should be in line with the story.


My life’s work is centered around communication. Doing more of it, more effectively and illustrating how communication is more than a “soft skill”, but one that leads to real, meaningful business results. But at no other time in my life have I learned more about the practical application of communication than I have in the last year.

1st stop: Courage

In most families, there’s some element of stifling what needs to be said for the sake of cohesion and peace. But, when is it too much? Within the first hour of the road trip, my husband, children and I began a lively conversation of current events.

At some point, my daughter said “gee Mom, you’re sounding salty today!” I replied “I’ve spent the first half of my life quieting my voice for the sake of harmony, and all it got me was the increased volume of the voice inside my head!” She called that “salty” – I call that being “authentic.”

Now having said that, there are some key companions to having the courage to be salty and authentic. Respect and safety are non-negotiable, but it begs the question –how courageous are you being when it comes to cultivating communication in your organization?

Next stop: Generosity

When you’re traveling in a total of three cars, it’s critical to agree on the preferred mode of communication before beginning the journey. Someone will need to use the bathroom and someone else will need a snack and rather than relying on hand gestures and “smoke signals”, we saved ourselves a lot of confusion by agreeing on how we would communicate between cars before we departed.

Not long into the journey, we received a call from the car behind us, requesting more reliable use of our turn signals – a critical instrument in good driver communication. Being generous with these strategies dramatically improved our ability to stay connected and signal our intentions.

What tools do you have at your fingertips that could improve the quality of your team communication with more generous and consistent use?

3rd stop: Adaptability

The trick to remaining adaptable is staying flexible in the face of friction. Never was this clearer than when I found myself on the back of a horse. My horse had a reputation for taking a leisurely pace and taking every opportunity to graze on the nearby brush. Perhaps you have team members prone to similar distractions?

The wranglers taught me how to use my reins and my legs to communicate with my horse, and I found myself incorporating favorite techniques as well – verbal cues and encouraging behaviors.

Some techniques worked better for the horse and some worked better for me, but as the week progressed, we both managed to adapt and find common ground. My horse also like to trot when it suited him and I wasn’t quite ready for that.

At first, I resisted and endured a very bumpy ride. But the more I leaned in to the rhythm and began anticipating what he would do next, the smoother and more fun the rides became.

Final stop: Curiosity

When you are on vacation with eight very different people, asking questions and listening skills need to rule the day! I can’t think of an occasion where one needs to be the smartest person in the room and especially not on vacation with family.

Being curious, assuming positive intent and seeking to understand are all skills that served me well on this trip and maintained and enhanced very important relationships in my life. Which relationships on your team or in your organization could benefit from a renewed sense of curiosity?


In today’s world of high tech and high stress, communication is more important than ever, however we spend less and less time really listening to each other. Genuine, attentive listening has become rare.

Active listening skills can help build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding and avoid conflict. By becoming a better listener, you’ll improve your workplace productivity, as well as your ability to lead a team, persuade and negotiate.

Active listening definition

Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. You make a conscious effort to hear and understand the complete message being spoken, rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  1. Why is listening important?
  2. Benefits of active listening
  3. What makes a good listener?
  4. Verbal and non-verbal signs of active listening
  5. Four different listening styles
  6. Examples of active listening
  7. Barriers to effective listening
  8. Tips to becoming an effective listener
  9. Listening exercises

Why is listening important?

Listening is the most fundamental component of communication skills. Listening is not something that just happens, listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker.

Active listening is also about patience, listeners should not interrupt with questions or comments. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should be given adequate time for that.

Benefits of active listening

There are many important benefits of active listening, these include:

  • Builds deep trust – As you cultivate the habit of listening sincerely, you invite people to open up. They can sense that you will not be jumping to conclusions based on superficial details. They also realise that you care enough about them to listen attentively. While building trust takes time, it leads to great benefits such as lifelong friendships and a promise of help in difficult times.
  • Broadens your perspective – Your own perspective in life is not the complete truth or how everyone else sees it. The way you understand life from your beliefs and thinking is only one way to look at it – listening to other people’s perspectives allows you to look at life from different perspectives, some of which you may not have thought of before.
  • Strengthens your patience – The ability to be a good listener takes time and you need to develop it with regular efforts over time. But as you gradually get better and better at listening, an automatic benefit is that you develop patience. Patience to let the other person express his or her feelings and thoughts honestly while you don’t judge.
  • Makes you approachable – As you present yourself as a patient listener, people feel more naturally inclined to communicate with you. By being there for them, you give them the freedom to express their feelings.


  • Good listeners actively endeavour to understand what others are really trying to say, regardless of how unclear the messages might be. Listening involves not only the effort to decode verbal messages, but also to interpret non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and physical posture.
  • Effective listeners make sure to let others know that they have been heard, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings fully.
  • You also need to show to the person speaking that you’re listening through non-verbal cues, such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’. By providing this feedback the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and communicates more easily, openly and honestly.

    Thanks for reading.
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