On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

A few months ago, I wrote a post about annoying current expressions like having said that and at the end of the day. That post came up in conversation this past weekend on a long, long trek to Miami and back.

You see, when you spend nine or ten hours in a car with other people in a single day, there’s going to be a lot of conversation. Any parent who has ever made the fatal error of driving cross-country with their kids on a “vacation” (ha ha) knows that.

And so, as part of my latest speaking gig, called On the Road With RRC [Residential Real Estate Council], I got in a car and went from Tampa to St. Pete to Sarasota to Miami in a day. Then, the following day, I got back into that car and drove from Miami to Cocoa Beach, then back to Sarasota and, finally, home to Tampa.

Total mileage in a two-day period: 785 miles. Total time spent in a car: about 15 hours.

Living La Vida Loca

I posted a photo on Facebook that said “Living la vida loca in Miami Beach.” It’s a nice pic of the beach view from the condo where we crashed after the first night’s charity event, Wings for a Cause. But truth be told, the only thing “loca” about that trip was the pace. We just did not stop.

I write all this because it’s instructive to remember that the speaker’s life, like that of the writer, is often not glamorous at all. Grinding out nearly 800 miles in two days. Wolfing down power bars and swilling iced coffee from a gas station. These are not the moments you’ll want to summon up on your death bed.

So why do we do it?

Well, it’s not just because we can get new clients by talking in front of a group of our ideal prospects. It’s also about the payoff of the act itself. In writing, when you’re in the zone, there’s nothing else like it. The star quarterback and the rock star must feel much the same. In speaking, it’s the laugh you get, the look of wonderment on the face of someone in the audience when you take them out of themselves. It’s the person who comes up to you afterwards and thanks you. It’s all that, and more.

Is there money involved? Yeah, there can be, but it’s not about that…at least not for me. The intangibles of speaking – the laughs, the gratitude, the lessons learned – are a lot like the otherworldly intangibles of writing. Different maybe, but similar all the same.

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The Power of Story

It’s been a noisy week in Tampa…

In the mid-1990s, I felt like I had a surplus of free time. A new transplant to Florida, I worked a menial job in a mortgage company, spent my evenings tightening up two out of my three Great American Novels, and trying to live a bit of the single life on weekends.

I still remember listening to Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion, spinning tales of his fictional hometown. “It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone,” he began each tale, the audience erupting in applause at the well-worn tagline.

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As owner of my own company and power of attorney for my mother, I’m in too much of a time crunch today to sit around listening to the radio like I did 20 years ago. But I still remember that era fondly, and the power of story has a lot to do with that. Yes, it’s been another noisy week for me, but just thinking about stories calms me right down…

Give Me More

I’m doing a weekly video series these days, and on Wednesday I’ll be talking about, for lack of a better term, story structure for dummies.

Of course, you have to have a beginning, middle, and end. But you also should have some conflict and some rising action before a climactic moment of some sort. I could hear those elements clearly in a ten-minute talk, much more than I could see them in The Odyssey or even a three-act play.

What does this all have to do with you? Well, if you’re a storyteller in the traditional sense – using story in your books or your talks – then you already know. But if you’re in business, it’s something else entirely.

The fact is, most of us learn about the world through stories. And a good story, whether about your aunt Sara or your best client’s success, will hold someone’s interest. So the lesson is always there: tell a great story and people will listen to you – and want to hear more.

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