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WSD Singapore: speeches to change the world

Guest blog by Steven Adamson

Last week I attended an event called World Speech Day 2017. Wasn't really sure what to expect. Didn't do any research on it. I went because I liked the name.

Since arriving in Singapore I have been attending random seminars and events. There is no rhyme nor reason behind my choices. No long term goal. Just a desire to hear what people have to say. For the most part I find that when people get up on the stage and start talking, they start selling. Selling ideas on how to make money. Selling ideas on how to spend money. One of my all time favourites is the idea of how to make money by spending money, by just giving somebody, usually the person up on the stage, all your money.

Now I have yet to leave one of these seminars any financially wealthier but I have certainly left each one a little more knowledgeable. Which I'm sure you will agree is by far the most valuable commodity out there. Now don't get me wrong here. I know one needs more than just knowledge. I know you can't get a good night's sleep on a comfy bed of knowledge. That what we all need to do is to complement our knowledge with action. That if you combine hard work, commitment and action with knowledge...well the world can be your oyster. And I like oysters.

So what does seafood have to do with World Speech Day? Nothing really. There was a lovely buffet put on by the organizers and there was some seafood but that is about the only seafood connection I can bring to the table. What I really want to bring to the table today is how the World Speech Day event made me a better person.

The first speech was a video presentation by, if I remember correctly, the founder of the World Speech Day. There was a line in that speech that resonated with me. The line went something like this:

“When something important happens, someone gives a speech. The reverse of this is also true. When someone gives a speech something important happens.”

Wow. What a line. What a speech. No matter where you give your speech or before whom you may give your speech, something important does happen.

After this video speech, which was seen in libraries, townhalls and auditoriums around the world, a series of speeches began. A marathon of speeches. Twelve hours worth of speeches began. For me it happened at the YMCA on Orchard in Singapore where I was fortunate enough to be invited. After the video speech others gathered up their words and their courage and took their place at the podium and said their piece. One at a time they stood up and spoke.

There was the stately politician with his views of today and tomorrow. The compassionate industrialist whose words inspired. The elderly academic with a passionate message of concern and of hope. There was the beauty of spirit and health. There was the abundant energy of youth giving what they could, where they could and when they could. Tales of personal observations and private ideas. Given freely to anyone who wished to sit and listen.

I can not recall any one speech which I heard that day that I would say left me feeling profoundly changed. No one speech gave me that euphoric feeling one gets when they have an epiphany. Though each speech...each speaker in their own way did impart upon me a little something. Some more, some less but all something. I may not have had an epiphany that day but I did leave the YMCA on Orchard that day feeling profoundly changed.

I feel it came from the combined commitment of all the speakers who stood at the podium that day. To get up there and give their individual best and to be a part of something bigger. Something global. Something wonderful. Something which many in this world would like to be curtailed if not completely removed. That something is an idea. The idea that the individual can make a difference.

When a speech is given important things happen.

And when a lot of speeches are given and if you are willing to listen, I am sure you will understand how it is that I left there that day a better person.

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