When I was 13-years-old I sat in the front row of a crowded room while Scott Anderson spoke. He delivered his speech with such passion, but never lost sight of his audience. I could feel his emotions as he spoke, I could see the tear as he talked about his brother and his battle with drugs; and I could relate because my own brother was in the grip of addiction. Scott shared a deeply personal story with a message for us. Afterward, I waited for him, thinking how cool it would be to shake his hand. If this had happened in today’s world, I would have taken a selfie with him. I still love meeting the speakers that move me, shaking their hand, thanking them for their speech and taking a picture with them like we are old friends.
I didn’t think about being a speaker until late 2009. When the thought came to me, it never left; at first I thought it was a sign I was going crazy. I didn’t want to stand in front of people with the kind of vulnerability that I had seen and admired in speakers like Scott Anderson. I didn’t see the skill sets building though years of leading classes and workshops on image and makeup. But God was pushing me hard to it. I was Leta. That was awesome enough. The amount of influence and interaction I had with others, my kids, hubby, my neighbors, friend’s – I was fulfilled, life was good. But now, even though I’m a speaker, I’m still me, Leta, even with the embarrassing clapping. I find it humbling that I have more influence and impact than I originally set out to have.
The speakers that I respect see the microphone not as an improvement to their status, ego or power, but as a gift that we have the honor to hold. Jason Hewlett, Kelly Swanson, Chad Hymas, Dan Clark, Kathy Loveless—for those of you not in the speaking world, these are some of the greats. They all view the stage as an honor. They are consistently in high demand, and deservedly so; they are really good people. They all have humility; they all have a deep knowledge that they are just people – they are normal people who get to do something incredible for their job. They are not in it for the glory, or the money. These speakers, like me, are in it because they feel pushed to speak. It’s a big responsibility; every single time before I take the stage I pray. I pray that my preparation was enough, that my message will connect, that I will make them laugh and then I get on stage. It has taken me a lifetime to become what I am and really intense focus to prepare my message. It didn’t just happen. What you see on stage is me in HD (High Definition). I am still me off stage, I’m still funny and prone to telling stories—but when I walk on stage it is no longer about me. It’s about the audience, it’s about you.
Because the truth is, you are why I speak. I speak to light up something in others, to make an impact, to know I really helped someone to laugh and think I really changed something—there are no words for that feeling.