Speaking for Yourself

May 10th, 2019

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash
A client recently came to me with a big confession. 

She wrote in an email, “Johanna, I have to confess…my primary motivation for speaking is not to help people. I do want to help people. I do want to have an impact, but mostly I want to help myself. I want to be taken seriously. I want to feel respected. I want to find my smarts.” 

Here’s what I wrote back: 

“It’s TOTALLY OK to want to speak to help yourself.” 

Speaking is a powerful transformational tool. 

It can change other people AND it can change you. I believe it takes you so far into your core stuff, and making the decision to do it can wake up power you didn’t even know you had.

When you do that for yourself, and you let yourself be changed, it impacts other people. Even if your main goal is personal transformation, it will help other people.”


If you’ve been around these parts for a while you’ve probably heard me quote JFK saying, “The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”

So yeah, the people in your audience will be changed by your talk. That’s what we’re after. You have an idea, a story, a kernel of truth you want to share. When someone in the audience hears it, they’re changed, and they go live their life differently AS A RESULT of your talk.

You definitely don’t want to leave the audience out of the picture. But change happens in so many ways! On so many levels! 

One of the big changes is YOU.  
YOU will be changed by speaking.

To go through the process of digging for your what it is you truly want to say, crafting your ideas into a talk, getting that talk up on a stage, taking a risk, stepping outside of your comfort zone in a slightly uncomfortable speaking situation, it invites you to CALL UP YOUR POWER. 

The wonderful thing is that once you call it up, IT’S YOURS. 

Of course there will be new journeys, and new risks, and new power to call up, but each layer you discover is yours for the keeping. 


I was at the Womxn’s March in Denver last weekend, and I remembered having heard Holly Near speak at a rally many years ago. She told a story of protesters on her campus during the Vietnam War. She would walk past them every day and think to herself “What good is that doing? It’s not changing anything.” 

Then one day she stopped and stood with them, and showed up day after day to stand on that street corner with them. 

What she noticed was that she was changed by standing with them. Whatever the impact her protest had on the big world picture, the change that happened inside herwas significant. 

We are changed by the actions we take. 

When we allow ourselves to be changed, we move in the world differently, thereby changing the world. 

I believe that’s true for speaking, too. Speaking will change you

So, whether it’s showing up for a march, or taking a stand for something you believe in, or getting on stage to speak your truth, or speaking bravely in a difficult conversation, or raising your hand before you feel ready to speak…

I invite you to show up, walk to your own personal edge, take action in the direction of the thing you want, the thing you care about, and then allow yourself to be changed.

I know the world will be a better place as a result.  

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