“Once upon a time, I dreamed I was a butterfly fluttering hither and thither. Suddenly I awakened, and there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.” ~ Chang Tzu
Many public speakers use the title ‘Transformational Speaker’, as a way of informing their potential audiences of what they do and how they do it. Apart from having an impressive sounding title that attempts to differentiate Transformational Speakers from both Motivational Speakers and Inspirational Speakers, what is meant by the term ‘Transformational Speaker’, and how are they different?
If we can fairly assume that the task of a Motivational Speaker is to motivate, and an Inspirational Speaker is to inspire, is it safe to assume the role of a Transformational Speaker is to transform? If so, what does that mean and how will they do it?
A search on Google turned up 1100 hits for the exact term “Transformational Speaker”, but after many lengthy searches, I did not come across a clear definition of the title. That’s not at all to say there is not a clear definition out there, only that it’s not very obvious. With as many speakers as there are using the term, I would have imagined otherwise.
Because I am a Transformational Speaker, I am very interested in how others in my field are using that title. The purpose of this paper is to explore the meaning of the title ‘Transformational Speaker”, what such a speaker would do, as well as why I make the claim of being a Transformational Speaker.
So, if we have to start from scratch somewhere, let’s start here…. Oxford’s Dictionary of English defines ‘transformational’ as “relating to or involving a marked change in form, nature or appearance”.
According to that definition, we should be able to assume three things about a Transformational Speaker.
First, they are, or can be, part of a marked change. Not a small change, but a potentially dramatic, drastic or marked change.
Second, the change can take place in a wide variety of ways, from the form/appearance of a thing (outward shape) to the nature of a thing (intrinsic characteristics of a person or thing). This means that transformation can occur on many levels, or manifest in many ways.
Third, according to this definition, the ways in which transformation can occur can be placed upon a spectrum, from shallow/outer (outward form, shape and appearance) to deep/inner (intrinsic nature and quality).
For example, a wave on the ocean has an outward form and appearance, which is the shape of the wave that allows us to see it. On the other hand, the intrinsic nature and quality (water/wet/fluidity) of a wave is deeper in that it is the common essence of this wave, and all waves. An outer transformation of the wave would involve one of size/appearance/shape. An intrinsic transformation of the wave would involve a change of its nature, such as the realization that it is made of water and is not separate from the ocean (if that were possible).
With the unpacking of the Oxford’s definitions above, and my own 15 year exploration of how and why transformations happens, I will posit the following streamlined definition for ‘Transformational Speaker’:
A Transformational Speaker is one who attempts to illicit a marked change in form, nature or appearance in a human being.
Now that I have defined Transformational Speaker at least in a preliminary way, I will share with you why I call myself a Transformational Speaker.
Having studied the World’s Wisdom Traditions for 19 years, I have been exposed to various methods of sharing understandings that attempt to point to a deeper truth, greater wisdom, or illicit a transformation. This means I have had the privilege of being introduced to a variety of perspectives (ways of seeing) and practices (ways of being) that have had the effect of transforming my fundamental understanding of what I am and what is real.
Of the ways I have been introduced to these understandings, none is more powerful and Life altering than direct human contact with the source of an understanding. Having studied a variety of approaches to transformation that have a strong ‘spoken word’ component, such as Dzogchen, Hypnotherapy, Zen and Guided Meditation, I am familiar with the transformative power and potential of words when they arise from clarity, presence and spaciousness.
A Transformational Speaker uses all dimensions of experience: the eyes, the stance, the gesture, the movement, the presence, the meaning, the conviction, the affect, the radiance, the emphasis, the pace, the tone.
A Transformational Speaker, because they are awake and plugged-in to the deeper dimensions of experience, are able to speak from and AS those dimensions of experience.
From here, the Transformational Speaker is able to invite the audience into their own depths, exposing subtler and more profound aspects of existence.
A Transformational Speaker is at home in the depths of Life, always swimming in the profound realization that ‘I Am Alive AS Life’, and it is from here that you are welcomed back into your truest expression of what you are. Welcome Home.