After giving so many motivation speeches ‘indoors’ on teamwork and leadership at corporate events, it was a real treat to get to speak ‘outdoors’ recently. The Peak District National Park held an event to mark the 10th anniversary of CRoW. The Countryside Rights of Way Act has significantly increased open access in England for all. In The Peak District alone, On September 19th 2004, the public’s right of access grew from 240 sq km to more than 500 sq km, opening up a new world to be explored inside Britain’s first national park.
What I enjoyed most about the event was listening to the other speakers talk about their personal connection to this inspirational landscape. Everyone had their own style, but at the heart of each speech I felt there was real a human story. Campaigner Terry Howard produced a flint arrowhead during his marvellous speech. He had found it on the ground whilst out walking in the northern moors.
“Four thousand years ago, somebody who was walking here lost it. To me, this arrowhead is a token. It’s sending messages to me from the people who used to live and walk here.”
Yvonne Witter spoke of her work with Mosaic, bringing women from Sheffield to the Peak for walks, women who had never been here, some of whom had never been out of the city before. It wasn’t just about the formal speeches though, after each talk we walked across the moors exchanging ideas, making connections.
The talks by others reminded me of all the hard work by individuals and groups to make the access agreement a reality. As climbers we often take this for granted.
I am not sure if having to speak first was a blessing or a curse, but as with any speech there were a few rules I adhered to. Here are a few speaking tips I have found useful over the years.
1 Nerves before is ok
Not breathlessness and racing heart rate, but ‘to be up for it’. Despite the mild stress I remind myself to be still and to be in the moment.
2 Be yourself
Obvious maybe, but so many people try to be something else and it often shows. An audience appreciate authenticity more than anything else.
3 Be prepared
The Scouts motto works here too! It doesn’t mean reams of notes, but having some structure and ensuring you deliver your most important points will help make an impact.
4 Make a connection with the audience
I always try to make a bridge between my world and that of the audience. This means knowing where your audience are coming from.
5 Be human
We are social animals and we have emotions, a speech that is devoid of emotion will fail to inspire people. Never underestimate the power of a personal anecdote. With or without arrowhead!