One of the biggest comments I have received from my award winning speech: you were vulnerable up there on that stage, and that is likely one big reason why you won.

A big secret I have to reveal: I still have no idea how to define that term.

Vulnerability during a speech. It is a slightly foreign concept to me, mainly because whenever someone mentions that word, I’m at a loss. It feels like they are referencing some skill I have, like I woke up one morning and decided “I am going to write a speech and insert this amount of vulnerability!” It is not a skill I have, it is a term that continues to elude me.

I have only managed to define vulnerability as this: vulnerability is those moments when you talk about a personal experience that has changed you (for better or for worse). It is that moment where you tell a story about yourself and invite others into your world and give them permission to judge. Likely their perception of you will change and you have no idea/control over how their perceptions will change. Will they still continue to respect you, or will your perceived problems be scoffed off as “child’s play”?

Ask any of my club members and they will tell you I often base my speeches on personal stories and events. Frankly, that’s all I have. I never sit down and write to be vulnerable, but I often write about experiences that have amazed me, angered me, bewildered me, and have helped shape who I am today. For every personal speech I have ever written, a part of me is there in between the words.

It all reminds me of some lyrics from Yellowcard’s song, “How I Go” (inspired by the movie Big Fish).

Son I am not everything you thought that I would be.
But every story I have told is a part of me.

That is how I have approached every speech that has ever involved a personal story or has been drawn from my personal experiences. Maybe that is what they were talking about all along.


4 thoughts on “Vulnerability

  1. “It is that moment where you tell a story about yourself and invite others into your world and give them permission to judge?”
    I think it is exactly that. And it might not just be that they dismiss your problems as child’s play, it might be that they dismiss you altogether……that is the place where we need the most courage.
    The personal stories are all most of us have Viv, keep going with them. I think you’ve got yourself a winning formula.

  2. I am not only impressed Vivien with your win, I am entertained and impressed with your writing skills (part and parcel of a good speech)…excellent words of advice and….yes…a teachers skill! :p)

    • Wow, thank you for your compliment John! I must admit I was always more comfortable with the written word than the spoken one. Part of the reason why I buckled down and joined Toastmasters! šŸ™‚

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