Speaking with Sincerity

by Vincent Li DTM

Continuing with our series examining the speech projects from the Basic Communication & Leadership manual, this issue we will look at the second project, “Speaking with Sincerity”.

Now that you have done your first speech, the “Ice Breaker”, you know you will survive speaking in front of a group! Your challenge this time is to speak a bit longer (for 5 to 7 minutes) about something you believe in. Last time you just talked about yourself. This time, is not too much different. Everyone has an opinion on something. What do you believe in? Pick something that you believe in strongly enough, then think about why you do. What are the facts that convince you to believe in that way? Do you agree with our level of taxation? What about our health care system or education system? What stance do you have on the environment? Is it really a choice between jobs and nature or can we balance the two? Is our welfare system not working the way it should? Is the new skytrain extension a good way to improve our public transit or another alternative is better? Do you agree with same sex marriage, why or why not? Should we host the Olympics? Should we have gone to war with US? Is Canucks really the better team?

Simply looking at everyday news and you can get many ideas you can use this speech project (and perhaps other projects as well.) Carolyn Stewart, a former member of my other club, did hers on anti-smoking and tobacco. “You need to have sound knowledge of your subject as well as a passion and belief in it,” she said. “Doing research is important. I have found out a lot more facts which confirms my belief and makes me more confident in presenting my case.” Digging into the facts behind your subject matter can be quite interesting sometimes, but always keep an open mind. In Carolyn’s case, it confirmed her belief. In other cases, you might be surprise that you can find that the facts point to otherwise. Another approach you could take is to search for facts contrary to your belief. What are the logics for those who are taking an opposing stand? Perhaps they have as solid a case as your side, perhaps not.

I have heard a beautifully done second speech at Golden Eagles some time ago on the controversial issue of euthanasia. It was well done because the speaker has solid support for his view. He presented arguments from the other side and showed how it might fail. His presentation was not confrontational, but addressed the issue. At the end, you may or may not agree with his point of view, but you have a sense that he has done his homework and respect his views.

When the first time around, you may not choose the more controversial subjects, but for any more experienced speakers, I would challenge them to try something more challenging. There is nothing wrong with controversial subjects if it is presented with respect for all points of view and backed up by facts. Consider a recent speech by Chris Oikawa on the subject of salmon farming. He addressed the concerns of the opposing view but presented his backed by research. You may still not agree with him, but you can still respect his views.