How to Be an Awesome Mental Health SpeakerDec 28, 2021
My first real speech was in grade 6 and oh man, I was nervous. I chose the topic of "Black Holes" lmfaoooo. I know, an 11 year old talking about something astrophysicists barely understand but damnit, I was going to try!
I had no idea how to talk to an audience and even in high school, my knees would shake, my palms would sweat and face would become red.
The problem wasn't only that I lacked the necessary skills to entertain, because I did that out of the classroom all of the time. The issue was that I didn't truly love the topic I was speaking about and the information didn't come from me.
Information was memorized and practiced word by word, line by line. No wonder there was pressure and rigidity in my speaking through elementary school to university - it just wasn't fun or meaningful content.
I started speaking about mental health on YouTube for about 5 years through hundreds of videos but then made my way speaking to elementary and high schools. Speaking into a lens versus real people. . .yeah, no comparison.
I absolutely loved speaking to children about emotional and mental health which included my own story with depression and anxiety. Of course with students and school boards, only certain kinds content can be shared and I felt there were parts of my story that only adults would truly resonate with and understand.
So, I started reaching out to businesses and organizations to see if they do any kind of lunch and learns or speaker series for their employees. I found out shortly after that adults, even more than children, are in desperate need of a genuine, authentic human story of suffering, loving and living. No bullshit. Not selling a health app for their HR team. Just offering somewhat of an antidote for the primal need of storytelling.
What Should You Speak About?
I studied for years and years through personal experimentation with my own mental health (medication, nutrition, meditation, travel) and reading about psychology, biology and neuroscience to make sure my presentations were full of tangible takeaways for audiences.
Although this is still a part of my speaking, I'm not sure people need more information. I honestly think thats the last thing people need at this point in human evolution.
What I offer in my presentations is a clear window into my life and my story through mental illness. I put myself in the shoes of the audience at either a conference or workplace boardroom. When I visit an office or speak virtually, I do my best to get a sense of what people actually need today.
I believe they need honesty. I believe they need grounded perspectives. I believe they need something real.
They don't need the latest health hacks. They don't need the latest research in neuroscience that still comes up with the importance of sleep, eating healthy and exercise. We all know these things.
Everyone knows for the most part exactly what they need to do to be healthy. They don't need to me to tell them.
I simply tell them how hard life is sometimes and take them through how we can learn to hold ourselves to endure those tough times and follow the golden sun. I do my best to send a message that although sometimes we are just in the thick of the mud in life, everything is going to be okay. You are going to make it through.
There are a million lessons learned from dealing with depression and existing in the dark but the one theme that continues to emerge is the need for people. The need for connection. The need for understanding. The need for belonging.
Everyone is on their happiness and hustle quest. I offer them my story of mental illness and the invitation to slow down.
I simply offer my experience of crawling through that mud and how I finally got to see the sun again.
When you decide to share your story and speak about mental health, offer your true, genuine self to your audience. That is what people want to hear today and theres not enough of it out there. Tell them a great story!
Thanks for reading.