My remarkable friend, Dr. Jeff Salz is an anthropologist, explorer, expedition leader, and professional speaker. Jeff is an adventurer from birth. At seventeen, he was solo traveling around the globe – ice climbing in New Zealand and living on vampire bats in the jungles of New Caledonia. After decades of exploration and his study of human nature around the world, he is equally at home leading in a boardroom of Fortune 100 executives or around a bonfire with tribesmen in the Upper Amazon. One trait that makes Jeff an excellent speaker is his authenticity. Surprisingly, this brave man was somewhat daunted the first time he delivered a major presentation in front of me. Jeff shares his amusing story about that experience and the lesson he learned about speaking:
For Speakers: Repairing the World with Your Words
Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם or תקון עולם) is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal and transform the world.
The mystics, much like our modern scientists, imagined that our universe began with a Big Bang. God poured pure light, or the seed of energy, into cosmic vessels within space. But the light was so pure and intense, that the vessels could not contain it. So the vessels exploded – and their fragments scattered throughout the universe, with sparks of the light of creation, clinging to the pieces.
The idea is that, like a mirror shattered into countless pieces, each of our lives is a fragment, a unique reflection of creation whose expression is essential to life regaining wholeness. Our individual responsibility, taught the mystics, is to bring that reflection back to the whole so that life can again become complete in its divinity.
So what does such ‘holy work’ have to do with being a successful speaker?
As it turns out… Everything.
Many years ago, I was delivering a general session address to a good-sized audience. The talk seemed to go fine. The audience has risen to their feet with prolonged and hearty response.
But I was still nervous. Why?
Fripp was in the audience.
Patricia Fripp – first magnitude presenter, renowned Hall of Fame speaker and coach – had stuck around after her opening keynote gig to check out mine.
My heart pounded. What would Le Fripp have to say?
As the hall emptied, a small figure streaked toward me through the crowd like a fireball in a well-pressed pantsuit. Suddenly, she stood before me, shaking her well-coiffed head in a dismissive side-to-side fashion. This did not bode well.
“My dear boy” she chided in her distinct British accent. “You know that you did everything wrong.” Her perfect diction and elocution reminded me of how often mine was not.
“Everything wrong,” she repeated theatrically. “But it just didn’t matter.” She smiled. “You are just so… damn… GOOD!”
My heart soared. To this day, the lesson I draw from Patricia’s generous words remains a cornerstone of my approach to our specific art form. It informs the way that I coach others: Once you discover your uniqueness and energy… technique evolves on its own.
A bit of coaching is still invaluable. Speaking is not only a matter of communicating directly from our hearts. If it were, all we would need do would be to open our mouths. Lub dub… Lub dub… Lub dub.
That is where technique comes in. Technique is really translation. It’s interpretation. It’s a matter of transcending the boundaries of language in order that our deepest, most personal discoveries can be understood. In speaking, we study technique because that’s what it takes to make the ineffable…. well… effable.
And the ineffable is the only thing that really ‘effing’ matters.
All of this takes courage.
It takes courage to dig deep enough behind the ego-fueled persona to unearth who we truly are. It takes courage to lay our unique and tender gifts upon on the table. It takes courage to stand upon a stage and bare to the world our most raw and truthful selves.
My Courageous Speaking workshop with Lisa Jaffe is an adventurous deep dive behind our own masks hoping to re-emerge with our natural style and authentic voice in hand. The Kabbalists would call it holy work.
Visionaries might see it as the first step in overcoming the divisiveness and fundamentalism splintering our planet.
I just call it a good time.
As Fripp taught me – when you and your message are the same, magic happens on stage. When it does, all of the rest of your life suddenly feels enraptured, joyous and complete.
You know what? It just may be holy work after all.
About Dr. Jeff Salz
Recognized as ‘the world’s leading adventurer/anthropologist’ by the Discovery network, the History Channel (He has the top spots in Google, followed by Thor Heyerdahl and Tarzan!), he is also a renowned explorer, expedition leader, educator, professional speaker, author, film maker, playwright and television personality. Inducted in 2013 into the National Speaker Association Speaker Hall of Fame, Dr. Jeff provides inspiration, education and tools for leaders and individuals of all walks of life to find success, effectiveness and happiness in today’s climate of global change. He has led over one hundred expeditions – from Patagonia to Sikkim – and continues to inspire top executives at leading edge organization such as Microsoft, Google, eBay, HP and the Walt Disney Company. For more information visit: http://www.jeffsalz.com
Thank you Jeff!
Although we should always strive for excellence in our public speaking, it is good to remember that an audience does not simply want perfection, they want authenticity.
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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.