When I finish my workshops with high school students, I have noticed that I try to cram a life’s worth of advice into my closing reminders. I want to offer guidance, (“Be yourself”) insight, (“Love yourself first”) parental concern, (“Be safe”), but I noticed their eyes glazed over, so I stopped. I try to end with less sweeping life lines, “Don’t save all these skills and tools learned today just for a big presentation. Practice immediately. Public speaking is ANY conversation you have with a friend, a small group, family at the dinner table, etc. There is always an opportunity to learn. Pay attention. Notice how much you listen, versus waiting for your turn to speak. Notice and name body language, posture, tones of voice, and gestures. Think before you speak and flex to be more connected to your audience. Let every communication be an opportunity to practice.”
This week, I am taking my own advice with my family and I encourage you to do the same. Think about something you might say to the people you share your Thanksgiving Day with, either at the table or in smaller conversations. Ask your children, if you have them, to prepare a few words. Let them practice planning in advance, expecting to be listened to and having all eyes on them for a moment. You could suggest a topic that might include gratitude, family, friendships, history, turkey traditions, favorite foods, table settings, tradition, people far from their families, the joys of canned cranberries, …anything is possible. Start with yourself and give voice to something that honors the value of more thoughtful discourse.
Someone said recently, “Gratitude is not a feeling, but a way of perceiving the world.” Do you agree? Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I wish you a grateful Thanksgiving, your best public expression, and please (“be yourself, love yourself and be safe”).