The Power of Passion in Public Speaking

Several years ago I had the pleasure of listening to Hanan Elsaneh from the Sidreh Association, a non-profit organization established to empower, represent and improve the socio-economic condition of Bedouin women living in Israel's Negev.

Hanan is one of the most inspirational speakers I’ve heard.  Her talk was about the women she supports who come from unrecognized Bedouin villages where there is a lack of running water, electricity, paved roads, adequate healthcare and educational facilities and other services normally provided by the state. Due to the lack of facilities as well as their culture, women have traditionally been expected to stay at home and any investment in education has been only for boys in the family.

What struck me most about Hanan’s presentation was not the vast vocabulary, the smooth delivery or the well-structured content; in fact none of the usual elements we would associate with a great speaker were particularly strong. What made Hanan so engaging was an honesty, an authenticity and an absolute passion for life and the work she does with the Bedouin women.

Her personality and strength of character shone through as she spoke of her early years and the challenges she had with meeting her family’s expectations – as a woman it was not envisaged that she would finish secondary school, let alone attend university. She shared her quiet determination and persistence to overcome these limiting cultural barriers. She talked about how she carefully picked which battles she would fight with her family in order to gently push the boundaries and revealed a quirky sense of humour as she described her resolute approach.

Hanam’s English wasn’t perfect and she apologised for it, occasionally checking with her companions if she wasn’t sure of the English word or phrase. But regardless of her challenges with the English language, there was no question about her passion and her compelling sense of purpose to ensure the Sidreh Association continues to provide income, literacy training and self-confidence to the ladies of Lakiya.

After I heard Hanan speak, I came away wishing that I had such a strong sense of purpose, wishing I had something that I couldn’t wait to get out of bed every day for, wishing I had a sense of knowing I was doing what I was put on this earth to do. I wanted an urge, a drive, a sureness that I was on the right path in my journey through life.

A few years later and I’m delighted to say that I now do feel a strong sense of purpose and passion. In establishing my own business I have the opportunity to use my knowledge, skills and experience every day helping people to overcome their public speaking challenges and grow their confidence and it is incredibly rewarding.

Whether taking that leap from employee to entrepreneur was in some part due to hearing Hanan Elsaneh speak several years ago I can’t say for sure. What I can say for sure is that I was completely entranced by her presentation and her inspirational message is still with me to this day.  Why? Because she spoke directly from her heart and her passion was palpable.

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Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction.

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