How This Young Man Uses Speaking As Therapy
Date: December 24, 2015
In 2006, Reggie Shaw’s life changed forever. He was involved in a fatal car accident, where two people were killed. His phone showed that he had been texting behind the wheel.
From that day onward, Reggie made the choice to change his life and other people’s lives for the better – and he does this by travelling all around the country to raise awareness about the dangers of texting behind the wheel.
Finding inspiration for your speech is not necessarily easy – especially when that involves bringing up issues you’d rather forget.
But like Reggie, you can inspire many lives by forgiving your past mistakes and instead of brushing them under the rug, make the effort to make this world a better place.
Hi Reggie, can you tell us a little about your speaking experience, including what you’re doing at the moment?
As a speaker, I have told my story over 350 times all over the United States. Some of these experiences include presentations for the National Basketball Association and multiple Universities around the country.
This number also includes appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show, the Dr. Oz show and an episode on MTV’s One Bad Choice.
At the moment, I continue to speak as often as possible to help share our message to as many people as possible.
What inspired you to become a speaker?
Speaking wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to get in to.
My path as a speaker began when a judge told me that I would do 200 hours of community service which was all to be done speaking to youth groups.
I truthfully struggled through those 200 hours telling my story. When my community service was over, I knew that I had a choice to either stop speaking to keep my story to myself, or I could continue to speak to others and hopefully have an impact on other lives.
When I saw the way that I could help others and make an impact on my community, it felt selfish for me to not tell my story. Since that point, I have continued to try and help as many people as I can reach.
How do you connect with the audience so it doesn’t just become a case of you speaking at them?
As a speaker, it’s important for an audience to understand that I am there because I care for them.
It is not always easy, because I don’t know them and they don’t know me, but once I can make a personal connection to them, I know that I can make an impact.
How has speaking changed your life, and would you recommend speaking as a form of therapy or spreading an important message to the world?
Speaking has been an emotional release for me.
Speaking not only helps me out by just simply telling my story, but it also helps me to know that I have turned a “mess into a message.”
I have hurt a lot of people and it has been healing for me to try and help others. I am constantly reaching out to others who are struggling and recommending that they tell their story.
Everyone’s story can help impact somebody somewhere, and when you make that impact, you will see the positive influence it will have on you.
What process(es) do you take to prepare yourself for a speech?
Before I speak, I always want to know my audience; I can’t present the same to adults as I do with teenagers.
I also do as much research as I can for the region I am in; I want to know current laws or restrictions. As well as being aware of anything that has happened in the area recently that might help me make a connection with them right away.
If I want to show them that I truly care about them, then I must try to relate to them. Right before I speak, I always pray and ask for comfort and guidance to help as many people as I can.
Do you think it’s important to have a message, or can speaking just be a source of entertainment?
I think it is important to have a message, even if you are just entertaining. At the end of the day, you have an audience and you have a platform. It is your chance to make a difference.
Do you offer any support for your audience after your speech?
I try to make a point of leaving information with a school or organisation – mainly videos of my story to help them re-enforce my message later on.
Where did you last speak and how was the experience?
My last speaking experience was at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.
It was a great experience with a great audience. I always encourage questions and answers when it is appropriate, and in that setting, I was challenged as a speaker through the questions asked.
I feel like it gave the audience a better look into my life.
If you could give three pieces of advice to speakers, what would it be?
- Do your homework before going in to make a connection. Connections are not always easy to make on the spot and the same method for forming connections can’t be made to every audience.
- Find a way to implement a Q&A session. When I am asked questions, it not only challenges me as a speaker, but it also tells me what a group wants to hear. The questions I receive help me sculpt my future presentations to include the things that people want to hear, rather then what I want them to hear.
- If you are not passionate about your message then nobody else will be. Speak with the passion you want people to feel.
Although Reggie doesn’t know where he will be in the future, he hopes that he will still he helping people – something he is very passionate about.
Not every speaker wants to make a difference to their audience’s lives, and that’s fine. But if you have made a mistake in your life, or want to inspire people, then the above material will help you do exactly that.