10 tips for MADD speakers, VIP speakers or victim/survivor storytellers.

I’ve had the good fortune to know someone’s story and speaking abilities before nudging the person to be a speaker/storyteller.  So today via email, I sent off a 10 tips list.  As I started it I realized more details for my book.  I am writing a book on implementing Safe Teen Driving Circles.  You can see what they look like, by linking here:  http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=489541

I recently checked our outcomes, well the SCVRJP outcomes regarding our victim impact panels.  Spending time with the speakers has really paid off.  Look were we are at:

Convinced me not to drink and drive – 97 % (strongly agree/agree)
Made me consider stopping or decreasing my drinks before driving – 98 % (strongly agree/agree)
Made me realize drinking & driving consequences- 98 % (strongly agree/agree)
Convinced me to arrange for alternative transportation- 98 % (strongly agree/agree)
My behavior will be different now- 96 % (strongly agree/agree)

My off the cuff-top 10 for speakers:

1. Big power in little details.  Using the color of the car, the time of the year, the little memories you have, those details, really connect a person to the story.  Since using local community members is part of ‘realization’ for teens, using local landmarks help people.  I’ve known a speaker for years, she recently used the name and street of the funeral home.  My mind immediately flashed to that intersection, I know I will think of this next time, and probably everytime I drive by.
2. share in the moment.  if you feel nervous, just tell everyone.  if your voice shakes, tell them it will for a minute.
3. don’t put yourself down.  don’t minimize yourself or your story – a good speaker is one who knows their material – you know your story.  resist the urge to say something bad about yourself as a speaker, when speaking
4. what is said from the heart, can be heard with the heart.  Someone will always prepare the audience for you – the basic RJ and listening open will be suggested to audiences in RJ.  If your heart takes your story down a path – that’s okay.
5. use the ball diamond method.  Memory and visualization work as well or better than notes.  Imagine a ball diamond you are familiar with.  Spend a moment seeing the grass the brown in field, the four bases.  Know what is at each base for you (1-intro 2-incident 3-impact and 4- reflection)  so you tell your story from base to base. 
6. breathe – speakers often feel if I am not making noise, I am not effective – not true.  Powerful moments of silence drive the message home.  They allow for the absorbtion moment.  Take a deep slow breath, while the audience absorbs.
7. remember inside/outside can look different – look from person to person when you speak.  avoid looking at the person who fell asleep.  just know defense mechanisms rush to the outside when the inside is being churned.  A person may slump, give off body language of “I don’t care” when in reality they are being very touched by the story. 
8. be real, emotions are ok – you may get emotional that’s okay.  Explain – “this gets to me”.  Take a deep breath.  Change of behavior by a change of heart – our heart change makes us emotional.
9.  lead on the leader.  I’m here, willing to help, support, guide, protect – you name it.  Share your experiences with me so I can do my part – create a program that changes others.
10. Touch the paradox.   Someone told me “You are doing God’s work”, I said I am not, it is the storytellers, the speaker.  Know that this is life changing work, it’s huge.  The paradox is to do it as a speck of sand on the giant beach.  Humility.  Also know that you are saving lives.