How we change the world

Nothing has revolutionised the world like the free flow of information.

It was haunting for me to see Wikipedia (and other major sites) go black this week in protest of bills, which in essence would kill the way information on the net is shared. Many websites would simply have to shut down because they could no longer allow users to freely upload content.

How would that limit how much we learn each day? How restricted would we be from acquiring (and spreading) information and ideas? How many experiences would we be robbed of? How utterly poor we would be!

I had my first Public Speaking workshop for the year yesterday – I am constantly amazed at how this is a skill that so few individuals and businesses aggressively pursue.

Not only is it a remarkable way to share ideas it does something advertising can never do – it provides compelling human connection between speaker and audience. So much so that a great ad will cause a stir (maybe) and people might enjoy it but perhaps take no action. However wonderful public speaking leaves the audience asking (begging even) “what do I now?” This often results in action.

Formal advertising versus connecting with people one human being to another via conversation sparked by public speaking- well need I say more?

As part of my program I work with individuals to tell their stories via various Public Speaking platforms including the media. Media coverage is a powerful (and proven) platform to share ideas, give alternatives, raise awareness- it boggles the mind that this skill is so under developed and so under utilised.

In our workshop yesterday we spoke about education in South Africa and the tragic incident that happened this month at UJ. A woman was killed. A woman was killed. A woman was killed.

Immediately the human brain looks for someone to blame. Who’s fault was this incident?  Who do we accuse? Where do the fingers point?

Why was there a stampede? Young people in South Africa are hungry (HUNGRY!) for knowledge they believe will improve their lives and secure their financial future?

How many organisations in this country provide learnership programs for students who have just finished high school? Shockingly plenty. Why do so few students know about these options? Very good question.

Late applications are now said to have become an annual phenomenon. We saw it last year. Twelve whole months passed between last year’s crazy influx of students at tertiary institutions and this year’s fatal stampede. How many organisations went on a nationwide campaign last year to invite students to join their learnership programs?  How many used the media to raise awareness of said programs?

Who do we blame? Us. All of us.

I feel all of us failed these students. We failed them by failing to look for alternatives. We failed them by not telling them about the alternatives that were there. And we failed them by not speaking out.

This is not a debate about the state of education and who should be doing what; it’s simply a statement of fact: There are alternatives to tertiary education provided by a significant amount of organisations around the country. Those alternatives are not being explored as much as they could be.

A woman was killed. It should never have happened.

Far too many organisations are quick to talk about their profit making ventures. How about the parts of their operations that have the potential to change lives – why are those not highlighted? Not just for publicity sake but for the sake of changing lives?

What I tell all my delegates in media training workshops is this: Every one has a story to tell. Every organisation at any given moment has a story to tell.

I have never run a workshop where delegates didn’t have (compelling) stories to tell about themselves or their organisations.

Last year we saw hoardes of young people clamber over each other to register for education. How many organisations between that time and now spoke about how they could be part of remedying this situation? Sadly too many waited. How many will wait for next year?

I coach people to speak and brand themselves successfully because I know how much it can change their lives and I know how that will inspire them to tell stories, start movements, and do something with their lives that matters.

We are all sitting on vast amounts of wealth. Our portion may not be monetary but we all have something incredible to share: experiences, skills, knowledge, various resources – never in the history of mankind have we had so many platforms from which we can share this wealth.

Sharing valuable information results in a world of empowered individuals. The internet has magnified this.

Not sharing  sometimes results in tragedies that are a shame on who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to stand for.

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