A Short Guide To Using The Force Like A Motivational Speaker

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So I went to a motivational speaker thing-y a little while ago and I really hated it.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I don’t think there was anything wrong with the speaker or what he was saying. But after about fifteen minutes, I felt like I was stuck in a room full of despairing souls having their brains happily tenderized by a mallet of charisma. Now, that’s not necessarily what was going on. There were probably plenty of folks in that audience having a perfectly good time, experiencing perfectly legit ‘ah hah’ moments. People weren’t being abused or manipulated.

But I realized later on that I was reacting strongly to the experience because I grew up attending churches like this. So I feel defensive—a just a tad bit cynical—when I find myself in crowds of people being whipped up by an admired leader-figure.

Anyway, in order to deal with my discomfort, I went into full-on analytical mode. I started taking down notes about the techniques this speaker had incorporated (consciously or instinctively) into his oratorical approach. I figured I might as well generate a ‘how to be a motivational speaker’ list while I was writhing inwardly in my business casual attire.

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February 20, 2015

An Argument For Story-Based Communications (Part Three): Intimacy From A Distance

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[Read Part One of this post here.

[Read Part Two of this post here.] 

One evening a few years ago, I suddenly found myself part of a surging formation of women dressed in business casual and haute couture. We were blocking traffic all around Vancouver’s Rogers Arena as we funnelled into the stadium in a slow-moving column. Once inside, the energy in that cavernous, low-lit space was so high it felt nearly hysterical, all echoing chatter and the squeaking of retractable seats.

A friend of mine was treating me to this event, and she sat beside me with shining eyes. I was tired and foggy because I’d spent the better part of the afternoon drinking in the ravine behind my house. I was enduring a marital breakdown, white-knuckling my way through an interminable grief process, and most of my days were bad days.

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October 29, 2014