Facing fear. Finding your voice. Sharing your story. Changing the world.
With anxiety and excitement running high, we walked together from our training room to the town’s center square where we chose a bench in the most visible location. It was lunchtime and there were a lot of people—students from the university, families on holiday, business people, grandmothers. We gathered everyone around, took a few deep breaths together, introduced the activity to the crowd, and invited our participants to speak.
One by one they stood up, using the power of their voices to demand change, in this case, to bring attention to the AIDS pandemic among youth in Eastern Europe. They made people think. We had little kids and mothers, teenagers, and seniors all stopping, listening, asking questions. One of our students had turned himself into a human billboard, walking around inviting more people to come and hear what was happening. Some of the participants sang songs, others danced, some shared their poignant, personal stories.
The idea behind “Street Speaking™” is to prepare participants to find their voice and use their power by sharing deeply (and publicly) about the issues in the world that move them to action. The time in the square follows several workshop sessions that help participants uncover and discover their own passions and deeply held values. They’re well-prepared, though that does little to quiet the fear of public speaking. Once we get started, however, all of that changes.
When we sit together later to debrief, we always hear participants talk about how powerfully this activity has affected them. People point out all kinds of new learning, new emotions, and the sense of power they felt. Participants talk about what it was like to step fully outside of their comfort zones . . . and not only survive, but feel that comfort zone expanding in the moment.
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