Are You Trapped in a Story or Speaking Your Truth?

Yesterday I was working (as a speaking coach) with a client who will soon be giving an important TEDx speech. She wrote a first draft and sent it to me before we Skyped.

It was thoughtful and thorough and well researched. It tackled the tough social issue of mental illness, a highly stigmatized condition in our culture. Despite that challenge, her words flowed beautifully.

She shared her story with depression and anxiety, and told it so honestly. She gave the real facts, and painted the brutal picture of the reality of living with mental health challenges. But despite her great work, I sensed there was a void.

The speech was missing her TRUTH.

My client bravely heard my feedback, rolled up her sleeves and delved into her truth in a way that made ME want to pay HER for her time. I was inspired, and I can’t wait for her to throw down at this TEDx event next month.

You see, stories are the tales of what happen to us. They are the tactical details that string our days together into a life. Our truth on the other hand, explains how our stories define us.

Our truth lays out how the story of our existence makes us better, stronger and more resilient. Truth shows the tarnish on that shining star of a soul you have.

When Kris Carr was handed a diagnosis of untreatable, incurable cancer at age 31 – that was her story. But her truth became a wellness revolution. When South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious had both legs amputated when he was a baby, that was his story. But his truth was re-defining what it means to be disabled, and competing in able-bodied Olympics anyway. When Rachel Scott was murdered in the Columbine High School mass shooting, she was given the story of VICTIM. But it wasn’t her truth – that was contained in the words of inspirational journals she left behind, encouraging us all to start chain reactions of kindness.

For a very long time, I was trapped in the story of the murder of my friend Shannon McNamara. I was the Girls Fight Back girl – known internationally for ass kicking and violence prevention. But that’s really not my truth. My truth is to never make decisions stemming from fear, and to always speak up when something needs to change.

When the truth emerges, no matter what a speaker does to stop it, they glow. People take pause and notice. They pay attention. They consider major changes, because they know your truth is a gift you just laid at their feet. And often times, they are so grateful.

Working as a public speaking coach, my clients expect me to tell them how to look better, talk slower, sound smarter or be funnier. As a trickle-down effect, all these things happen – but none are the main intention.

I believe great coaches ask you to question everything. They help you dig deep, and ask you be brave enough to investigate what truly unique idea you have within you that is worth spreading.

Of all the lessons I bring to each coaching session, I think what is most powerful for my clients is this idea of permission to be authentic. To be an effective, powerful speaker you don’t need to do anyone but yourself. Stammering, forgetfully, imperfectly, lovingly, authentically, beautifully brilliant…and uniquely 100% you.

That is your truth…your gift to the world.

Are you trapped in your story, or speaking your truth?

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Showing 2 comments
  • Amber Naslund

    Erin – YOU are what is going to make this speech shine. (Yes, I’m totally outing myself here). :)

    Thank you for helping me find my truth. I knew I hit something today when I was re-writing stuff and had to fight back tears. Not because crying is the endgame, but because I knew that what I was putting on paper was right from the heart.

    I hope I make you proud. :) Thank you for your guidance, compassion, and encouragement!


  • Erin Weed

    Amber, I can’t wait to watch it online. You SO got this. It’s been an honor.

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