Say it out loud

Taylor TEDx

This photo is of Dr Taylor Burrowes giving her TEDx Talk in Cayman in April 2014.

I thought of Taylor today, somehow inspired by David Ross, a renaissance Kilmarnock man who posts every morning on Twitter as he wakes up about his face, hair and voice.

Today I shared a few of David’s tweets out loud. It made me think of Taylor’s talk and the power that comes when we “say it out loud”. I’ll muse on both of them and then a thought for leaders on “say it out loud”.

So, last Sunday morning I met a friend in Regent’s Park on a glorious autumn day where the leaves on the ground were every colour of brown. Yes, as a man who used to only identify about eight colours, I’ve learned the richness of variety of shades of brown by living in a country with seasons since last year.

As we walked out of the park, my friend was heading to work on writing for her stand up comedy and we mused on the relative power of “one-liners” versus stories.

As we chatted and walked, I thought of David Ross and his morning tweets. I then pulled up his feed on my phone and read a few of them out loud. Not “one liners” but “three liners”, always on the same theme. Another:

Though I look forward to reading David’s morning tweets each day, I’d never read one aloud before. I was so struck by the fact that I couldn’t read them out loud without collapsing in laughter, from the very first tweet. I kept scrolling through to find more and, yes, each time I read one, the laughter came as I read it.

The neuroscience of this must be fascinating to study. Fascinated though I am by energy, language and neuroscience, I am not expert, so all I can note is that there was a very different impact on me from saying them out loud to someone else to reading to myself.

The saying out loud “to someone else” is also important, as it was in the sharing that the laughter came to me as I spoke them. My morning walk friend is also a dancer, and next time I see her I will ask her if dance as another form of outward expression feels different and perhaps amplified for the dancer herself when she dances for others.

Now, to my friend Taylor.

That event in April 2014 was the first TED event held in Cayman. I was in the audience all day, watching all of the speakers say out loud what they needed to share. It was a great privilege simply to be present to these moments for them in my own small way.

Taylor’s talk was on “Mending sexual abuse wounds one bucket at a time“, and by speaking her truth out loud it changed, each in our own way, all of us who heard her. There is also a great power for the speaker in sharing their truth to such an open and appreciative audience in the way that seems to happen at TED events. I am sure this changed Taylor in her own way. I encourage you to watch her talk and hear what she had to say, as well as how she shared, saying out loud, a core piece of her own personal story and truth.

Finally, what comes to me from these stories is the power for leaders of sharing out loud, to say out loud what they need to share. Yes, the written word can have great power, and at the same time, there is added power in saying it out loud. To add a further layer of power to your message, be physically present. Webinars, “town hall” meetings, podcasts, video messages all add power when we speak our written word. What is more powerful still is to physically be present when we say it out loud.

So, as a leader, meet people in person whenever you can. If you lead a large organisation, go to them, talk to them, be present for and to them when you say it out loud. One leader I worked with as a client flew all over his country in a frozen winter as a “listening tour” before formally transitioning into their role as CEO. They did thirty road trips in under five months, talking to various sized groups around the country, sharing their core message, then listening carefully and taking on board the thoughts spoken out loud to him by people across the business.

Say it out loud.


Also published on Medium.

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