“You put your hand on my shoulder and my whole world changed”


by Burt Dubin on March 28, 2014


“You put your hand on my shoulder

and my whole world changed”

How a word, a smile, the look in your eye, can make a lifelong difference . . . and what you can do with this insight to make yourself memorable, indelibly memorable, to your audiences:

1. Where this started:

Milliard J. Bennett came to Philadelphia’s Central YMCA at Broad and Arch Streets to speak. I lived there while working my way through Temple University. (Never did get a Degree.)

I listened as he said words that resonated throughout my being.

“Your voice is the instrument on which you play the symphony

of your life.”

I actually shivered at this concept. A young man with nothing from nowhere, I could create the symphony of my life with my voice.

I felt a thrill. I was empowered. I had a chance. Back then my voice was embedded with an accent known locally as the Philadelphia twang.

Just about everyone I knew had that twang. And most of my relatives still have it.) I resolved to get rid of it. But how?

2. Actions I took:

Here’s how I did it. For a start, I modeled my articulation after Walter Cronkite and John Chancellor. They were then the top TV news anchors for CBS and NBC.

I didn’t stop there. A door-to-door salesman, I’d never seen nor read a sales training book. Across Kensington Avenue from my Uncle Herman’s furniture store, out of which I worked, was a dusty, musty, used book store.

I asked the old man who ran it if he had any books on sales. He shrugged, made a face, scratched his head, paused to ponder.

Then he reached under the counter, dusted off an old, large format, clasp-bound mimeographed book by Jack Lacy. He wanted fifty cents for it. I bought it.

An appendix area of that musty book included voice exercises. It included

sounds to relax the lips, tongue, and jaw. Exercises to crisp the B’s, P’s, and T’s. Other sounds to enhance the vowel sounds, a, e, i, o, and u. And more, a whole lot more.

3. Something free for you:

If you want a copy of the Jack Lacy voice exercises, send me an SASE (Large envelope, #10 size,) and I will send it to you with my compliments. If you are outside of the United States, send me a self-addressed #10 envelope. Enclose a dollar bill to cover postage.

I resolutely rehearsed every day from this Manual. My voice gradually became deregionalized. Plus this: My self-confidence went up a lot.

Milliard J. Bennett put his hand on my shoulder . . . and my whole world changed.

4. Actions to take:

4.1 Know your stuff:

Work diligently to make yourself an expert at something. Then, a world-class expert. Then in time, be the world expert. You can do it. Never stop uncovering new truths, new insights, new strategies.

Relentlessly refine your processes, your stories, your humor. Be that ever-opening thousand petal lotus. Continue to evolve as long as you draw breath.

4.2 Be your message:

More than anything you say or do, what your audience receives from you is your beingness, your state of being, your essence.

Elements of your essence include your values, your principles, your personal philosophy. These are seen in your stance, mirrored in your glance, reflected in the resonance of your voice.

Allow yourself to put your hand on your audience’s shoulder and make their whole world change. I certainly do not mean to physically touch them. I mean touch them with your stance, with the look in your eye, with your pauses, with the way you articulate your ideas and concepts.

4.3 Resolutely research:

Make up your mind you will get to know more, share more, give more, than anyone else anywhere. Subscribe to every periodical in your area of expertise. Buy and read every book, every Report, every word treating your specialty.

Do not stop with hard copies. Investigate Google research. Often an obscure mention can open up new possibilities missed by others.

4.4 Synthesize and simplify:

Make your findings as easy as possible to understand and accept. One way to do this is to tell stories of your adventures doing your research.

Let your stories help you put your hand on your audience’s shoulder and make their whole world change.

4.5 Create a General Session Speech:

Include your unique take, your insights, your what-to’s. Weave these threads together into a fascinating delineation. Include your personal stories, pratfalls and illustrations which amplify and make your points. Vignettes you alone can tell because you lived them.

4.6 Produce a Breakout Session Program:

This may be a how-to seminar. Or a hands-on workshop. This is where you get into the nuts and bolts of your findings.

4.7 Conclude with an action plan:

“Here’s what you can do now . . .”

“These are the actions I recommend . . .”

“Take these steps and you’ll . . .”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Let the experiences you create for your audiences be illuminating, entertaining, laced with touches of humor, and enlivened by your personal stories.

Determine that you will touch people deeply, meaningfully, unforgettable.

Resolve that you will put your hand on their shoulder and cause their whole world to change.

To set your stage for experiences like this, see the words below:

Burt Dubin works with people who want to  be speakers and  speakers who want to be masters.

Check out the wisdom of applying for Burt’s personal Mentoring.

Actions To Take:

Your first action to start creating your own public speaking adventures for yourself . . .

Top Shelf: Go here

Mid-range: Go here

Budget Delight: Go here


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