I suggested that she view the speech as a major opportunity to change lives, and craft a thesis that reflected that ambition. I gave her a simple, effective structure she could use for the speech. I suggested she use personal stories, analogy, contrast and comparison. And I gave her a healthy dose of encouragement. Leslie rose to the challenge.
She dug into statistics and stories about homelessness in New York. She calculated the number of times the homeless in New York could fit into the venue for the commencement address, and used the figure in her speech. She worked with me on her non-verbal communication, and her voice. I taught her to hit her content words, and breathe from her diaphragm. We worked to calm her nerves, and envision success.
On the day of the commencement, Leslie stood in front of two thousand students brimming with optimism, and gave her speech, calling them to be active and engaged citizens. She received a standing ovation. Then, she came off the podium and was greeted by her husband who had tears in his eyes. To this day, she still hears from former students about how much her speech meant to them.
You came here to read about what I am "about". I am about helping people like Leslie. People who want to make change through the power of speech -- whether it is through an improved social condition, an improved product launch, or an improved business relationship. I am "about" helping you.