"Can you do the speech?"
I have to say, I felt quite pale and cold when asked this question on the night before my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. Our family had travelled from Waihi, Auckland, Nelson and Brisbane to spend five days together to mark this milestone in beautiful Wanaka.
I'm not a natural public speaker, so even though this was a small family event in an informal setting, I was nervous. But it was fair that I should do it. My husband and my sister were sorting the food for the day, which is not my forte.
The three of us had brainstormed ideas for the speech so I had key points to mention. Less than an hour before everyone was due to arrive I ripped out some pages from an exercise book, pored over last night's shared notes, and just wrote.
I included aspects of Mum and Dad's life together that we could see had contributed to their happiness and stability as a couple. I added in real life examples, followed by some things we three children particularly appreciated about them as parents.
I read out the speech in a halting way, choked up with emotion and with tears blurring my view of the words. The presentation was far from perfect but I woke up next morning so pleased to have done it, and to have added to the celebration in that way.
As solo professionals, we can write and speak from the heart about who we are and the work we do. We can do this in a far more personal way than is possible for larger businesses. (Tears not required!)
This is our advantage - speaking with our unique voice is what will capture the attention of our ideal clients. Even though our presentations may not be as polished, large companies can't speak authentically from a personal voice in the way we naturally can.
So, next time you think about writing a blog, a newsletter or website content, and wonder if you've got anything original to say, or whether you're really enough of an expert to say anything at all, start with something that you've noticed or that has happened in your own life. Then link it to an insight related to your work, as I have done in this newsletter.
This newsletter/blog was inspired by listening to a presentation by Michael Katz (Blue Penguin Developments) on 'storytelling - how to create, use, tell and benefit from stories in your writing and marketing'.
Here are two examples of his newsletter, which link personal stories and information of interest to his readership (solo professionals who want to get better at marketing their services):