I can’t control anything past my will to stand up and my forethought to prepare something worth saying.
I have been doing some public speaking lately. It occurred to me both how valuable it is to be a public speaker – the thrill of presenting about something important to me, but also how valuable it is to see a speaker who is by necessity vulnerable.
Before I get up to speak, I don’t get nervous or jittery, I feel totally calm. I have learned to simply do my job and let the audience receive what they will. I can’t control anything past my will to stand up and my forethought to prepare something worth saying.
Lately, I’ve been speaking to groups of young men about preventing sexual assault and misconduct at college. It’s a challenging concept, and frankly I didn’t know if the men would respond; but after this past week I’m encouraged.
In particular, a group of fraternity guys who put on a tough front; but who ultimately responded that 84% of them learned something new (and actually recalled multiple takeaways on their surveys). My fear was that they would laugh or boo me off the stage, but instead they were silent, attentive, and engaged.
Afterward I realized how valuable it is for a leader (in this case a public speaker) to simply stand up and be vulnerable in front of other men. I was told afterward by several of the guys that they really connected with my story. Many of them had similar fears, and they all had similar desires to improve.
I gathered surveys and the feedback suggested that the men learned new things about how to prevent rape culture in their community, but also that they simply enjoyed seeing a man speak vulnerably and yet remain strong.
Based on this small sample size, I’ve never been more encouraged by the next generation of men.