When author and public speaker Brene’ Brown talked about “the power of vulnerability” at TEDx Houston in 2010, she was speaking as a researcher, a professor at the University of Houston and a #1 New York Times best-selling author. Brown’s credibility got her onstage, but credibility alone is not what got her to the top-10 most-viewed TED talks in the world. That accomplishment was likely the result of Brown taking her own advice.
While Brown speaks on vulnerability as a subject matter expert, she also opens herself up, talking about her experiences as a wife and mother, and about the challenges she has had to overcome.
“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty…”
Apex Clean Energy Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer Sandy Reisky in a video interview that balances the corporate story while building on his personal experience. Disclaimer: Apex is a Tigercomm client.
One of the most common words of wisdom for public speakers is to know your audience. What connects people more than the human condition? For most of us, our life journey is more of a hero’s struggle, a worthwhile climb that’s riddled with surprises, disappointments and lost expectations. But too few of us have the courage to proudly wear our battle stripes.
There’s no doubt that, as Brown says, “You have to be brave to be vulnerable.” But had Brown gotten up on stage and rattled off a bunch of statistics and numbers, while her challenges and personal story hung in the shadows, it’s unlikely so many would have been moved by what she had to say.
You’ll find many examples of this in the clean energy sector. You’ll hear about the industry’s technological advances, the number of jobs it’s produced, how many gigawatts of solar and wind are being installed and the future of our nation’s energy portfolio. But how often do you hear from cleantech industry leaders, the people working in the industry or customers whose lives benefited from clean energy, about what all that means to them personally? First-hand experience tells us that there’s no shortage of challenges in this industry but too few are willing to share it.
When cleantech leaders are on stage or in front of a camera, they are in a powerful position to be change agents just by sharing their stories. But to be truly powerful speakers whose messages are relatable and motivating, they must bring the viewer into their journey by allowing themselves to be vulnerable.