Last weekend I had the privilege of meeting and working with 100 of the top dynamic young leaders in British Columbia! Each year, thousands of young people participate in the RYLA program. This is a leadership program coordinated by Rotary clubs around the world where young people are sponsored by Rotary clubs to attend an event run by the club’s district committee. These events are legendary! They have a ton of fun, get inspired, learn some valuable skills and make lifetime friends. And kids remember them for life.
I was asked to teach a public speaking module to these young leaders, many of whom had already done a ton of public speaking. But some had very little speaking experience so the challenge was giving them something useful that they could take home with them, that they could use over and over in any presentation.
First I found out that about half of them had started the day with the polar bear dip! Yup, crazy people. Awesome! I also found out that at least three quarters of them had done public speaking before. Also my kind of people.
I told them a little bit about how public speaking can transform your life.About how my life had been transformed by public speaking – how Mrs. Gorski in high school had noted something in me, challenged me, and given me a gift that would last a lifetime.
I shared three main points with the kids , the first being that our audience is the most important part of public speaking and how we can engage them. Next it was how to structure a speech and these people will never forget the rule of three! Nor will they ever forget my disgusting McDonald’s hamburger. The last thing we talked about was presentation – how to remember, how to deliver. We even practiced the POWER POSE- my favourite!
I showed them video of 2001 World Champion Darren Lacroix’s first time onstage and his world championship winning speech. They couldn’t believe the difference that stage time makes.
We finished off with some impromptu speaking. I asked these guys a whole bunch of strange and provocative questions from their views on blind dates to what their happiest moments in life were.
I was floored by the courage in these young people as they came forward in front of strangers to share their experiences. They were funny, they were profound, they were strange! I was charmed.
They also had a lot of questions for me after the presentations. I love that kind of thirst for knowledge. This day was such a JOY for me! They were so much fun! Being around young people with attitudes like this – people who want to improve the world, who want to give of themselves, who strive for excellence, and understand the value of love and friendship was so invigorating for me. Watching these young people made me feel like I’m going to be in very good hands as a senior citizen.
Which by the way is a very, very, long, long, long, long way away!
I was also Facebook friended by at least 50 of you guys so I’m so glad I get to watch the amazing things that you will go on to do! Stay in touch!
Thanks RYLA for an amazing experience!