May 7, 2020
Hi, I’m Alex Perry host of the Practically Speaking podcast, where I demystify and simplify public speaking so you can say what you need and want to say.
I created this podcast because I want to talk to you about the issues and ideas that you have about public speaking, not just yammer at you about what I think is important about public speaking. And today, I’m excited because I’m answering a question that came from one of my #frontrow fans, KJ, and it’s one that SOOOOOOO many people ask, which is “Why would anyone care what I have to say?”
And what I love about this question is that it’s so applicable to many of the speaking scenarios we face in our daily lives, not just the “why would I get on stage and speak.” Still, it also applies to situations like, “why would anyone care what I have to say…in a meeting at work?”
“why would anyone care what I have to say…when I’m a board member for an organization?”
It translates to “why would my boss care about my idea?” Those are just a few of the examples that come to my mind when someone asks, “Why would anyone care what I have to say?”
What bothers me most about the question is that it stops many people from speaking up, it stops them from sharing their ideas, it stops them from asking for what they want and what they need every single day. And I can’t help but think what a great loss that is. It’s a loss for audiences that need to hear the stories and the experiences that you have that only you have- that will give them the motivation/inspiration to do what they want to do. It’s a loss to executive leaders who need to hear your dissenting opinion because if they don’t, the business will suffer. It’s a loss to your boss who needs to listen to the idea you have because it’s going to save the company money. It’s a loss to your manager who needs to hear that you need a raise because you haven’t had one in four years, and you’re contemplating quitting. And it’s even a loss to your friends who needs to hear your advice because they’ve got blind spots and they need your gentle words to help them see what they can’t see for themselves.
I could go on and on, but I hope you’re following me here.
Typically, when someone asks, “why would anyone care what I have to say” the responses we give most often, as coaches, leaders, co-workers, friends are usually lists of all the reasons why we think what you have to say is important. I mean, it’s easy for me as coach Alex to see why KJ should speak. It’s easy for me as a coach to list all the reasons why someone might want to listen to her stories, her ideas, her opinions. And it’s not a bad thing to do, to point out the reasons, I mean, it would make KJ feel good at the moment, and it might even give her the motivation to try to speak up a little more. But that not really going to help KJ in the long run.
Her motivation to speak will be short-lived because it comes from me and not from KJ herself. So the better way to deal with this question of “why would anyone care what I have to say?” is to address the real question KJ is trying to ask which is;
“Why do I really care about what I have to say?”
If KJ doesn’t care, why would anyone else?
You see, my opinion (or anyone else’s opinion) about why KJ should speak isn’t anywhere near as important as why KJ thinks she should speak. Only KJ can answer why it’s important to share her story. Only KJ can explain why her dissenting opinion matters. Only KJ can justify why she deserves the raise. Only KJ can speak up at the meeting and tell the team what they need to hear. Only KJ can answer ‘why would anyone care about what I have to say to say?”
Listen up, when we try to tell other people their “WHY” for doing something, their why behind what’s deeply personal to them about speaking or any other deeply held belief it’s their nature to disagree with what we’re telling them. For it to not be quite right. Unless your narcissist, it’s in your DNA to disagree with what I’m telling you because you believe your own data. Not mine. What you believe about the value of your story, of your questions, of your words, is what you will choose every single time. We don’t argue with our own data, and if our data says “no one wants to hear what I have to say,”-no other person is going to be able to change that. No one.
My friend, you are the only person who can answer the question, ‘why would anyone care what I have to say?’ Because the truth, hard as it might be to hear, is that if you don’t believe in what you’re saying and why it’s important, no one else will.
No one is going to care more about your story than you.
No one is going to care about your idea more than you.
No one is going to care if you’ve got the best business idea if you’re not willing to share it.
No one is going to care that you could’ve saved the company millions if you didn’t bother to share that information when you knew it.
No one is going to care if you’re going on four years without a raise when you deserved one two years ago,
No one is going to care until you care, and you start speaking for yourself.
The truth is the only person who can answer the question, “Why would anyone care what I have to say?” is you.
You can answer this question better than anyone. Better than me. Better than your boss. Better than your friends.
And the thing is, you know the answer to this question already. You know if you give yourself the gift of taking the time to thoughtfully respond to ‘why would anyone care what I have to say?’ you already have the answer.
Somewhere deep down, you know if you muster up the courage it takes to look at yourself instead of looking to someone else that you will find the answer. You will find all the reasons why it’s YOU that needs to speak, why it’s YOU that needs to share the story, why it’s YOU that has the idea that will change everything, why YOU need the raise, why YOU have a better idea. Why YOU are going to save the company from trouble. YOU.
You are the person who has the answer.
That got a little intense, I’m passionate about helping you speak, and I’m telling you that answering this question will change the game for you. It will keep you going when times get tough. It will ignite creativity you didn’t know you had. It will help you decide whether or not you’re going to stay in your job. It will change your relationships with other people, bringing the right people in and moving the wrong people out. It will change how you value yourself and others.
If those things that you want, then you need to turn your full attention to answering, “Why would anyone care what I have to say?”
That’s my call to action for you today. I want you to grab a sheet of paper, like a full-size flip chart piece of paper, and I want you to stick it to the wall-maybe grab two or three. I want you to write the question “Why would anyone care what I have to say” at the top, and I want you to start listing all the reasons why ‘someone’ would want to listen to you. Now, you’re going to have to pick the scenario that makes the most sense for you; if you’re talking about sharing your story with an audience, then I want you to list all the reasons why the audience would want to hear your story. If you’re talking about why your executive leadership team should listen to your idea, then list all reasons why they should. If you’re talking about why you should get a raise, list all the reasons why you deserve that raise. Spend some time on this. You’re going to come up with things like “my story might save someone else pain,” or “my idea will change the trajectory of this project moving it further faster,” or “I’ve exceeded my sales goals for the last three years and built an entirely new product to sell.” Write until you can’t write anymore, then take a break and after that break go back and write at least five more reasons.
You’ll use these reasons as your momentum to get started to start saying what you need and want to say. You’ll refer back to these reasons when you’re struggling, or you’re feeling lost. And, if you keep at it, over time, you’ll hone those reasons down to a single reason why ‘someone’ else would care what you have to say.
But more importantly, you’ll realize that what you have to say matters to you.
OK, that’s it for today. A massive shout-out to my friend KJ for boldly asking this question, it’s a brave and courageous question to ask, and I’m so glad you did.
If you, my friend, have public speaking or communication questions you’d like to hear answered on the Practically Speaking podcast, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly via email or direct message or leave it in the comments below. I’d love to answer them here for you on the show.
Thank you so much for listening. I am Alex Perry, the owner of practically speaking, where I coach and keynote on all things, public speaking, storytelling, and communication. You can find me on LinkedIn under Alex Perry and on Instagram and Facebook at @pswithalex.