Why bother? Winston Churchill was Prime Minister, Martin Luther King was a preacher, John F. Kennedy was President of the United States; we’re just members of a Toastmasters club. We’ll never be President or Prime Minister – we won’t be able to change minds and inspire change – will we?
The reality is, our communications will touch and inspire others far more than we realize. No, we’re not likely to inspire millions to march, nor to bring confidence and comfort to thousands. But we are very likely to touch someone’s heart, or implant an idea in their mind – every week! – by communicating well.
About fifteen years ago I gave a frequently-repeated lecture to yet another drug addict who was in the ER for an overdose; she seemed to take it in, or at least she was polite. Then she shipped off to a recovery floor. Two years later in another ER I saw a patient who was a victim from an automobile crash. As she departed for another floor she asked, “Do you remember me?” She was the drug addict – and had been clean and sober since the last time I saw her! “You believed in me, more than I did I think.” It took two years to learn that I had communicated effectively.
The more skillful we are at organizing our ideas and communicating them, the more impact we’ll have on others’ lives. We can’t develop the skill by learning some “magic” key or dropping into a powerful job; we will build the skill by trying, improving, and trying again. The crucial point though, is we have to try.
We organize our thoughts, present our ideas in the most effective manner – and convince our teen that studying tonight is worth missing out on texts from friends. Years later we watch our child receive a graduate degree.
We craft an opening statement for impact, and plan our call for action as culmination of our presentation of the unit’s budget to the Branch Manager. A year later she remembers our name when she looks for a new Section Chief.
Does it matter? We’ll rarely know what influence we have on others. But we can learn to communicate more (and more, and more) effectively so we can have that influence, whatever it may be.
We don’t need a job as a preacher, President or Prime Minister; we need to learn to communicate better and better. The tools are available.