Put Your Hand On My Shoulder
and My Whole World Changed . . ."
by Burt Dubin
a gentle touch, a word, a smile, can make a
lifelong difference . . .
and what you can do with this insight to make
yourself memorable . . .
indelibly memorable, to your audiences:
Where it began:
Milliard J. Bennett came to Philadelphia's Central YMCA at
Broad and Arch Streets to speak. I lived there while working
my way through Temple University. (Never did get a Degree.)
I listened as he said words that resonated unforgettably
throughout my being.
I actually shivered at this concept. A young man with nothing
from nowhere, I could create the symphony of my life with
I felt a thrill. I was empowered. I had a chance. Back then
my voice was embedded with an accent known locally as the
Just about everyone I knew had that twang. (And most
of my relatives still have it.) I resolved to get rid of
it. But how?
Here's how I did it. For a start, I modeled my articulation
after Walter Cronkite and John Chancellor. They were then
the top TV news reporters for CBS and NBC.
I didn't stop there. A door-to-door salesman, I'd never seen
nor read a sales training book. Across Kensington Avenue from
my Uncle Herman's furniture store, out of which I worked,
was a dusty, musty, used book store.
I asked the old man who ran it if he had any books on sales.
He shrugged, made a face, scratched his head, paused to ponder.
Then he reached under the counter, dusted off an old, large
format, clasp-bound mimeographed book by Jack Lacy. He wanted
fifty cents for it. I bought it.
An appendix area of that musty book included voice exercises.
Sounds to make to relax the lips, tongue, and jaw. Exercises
to crisp the B's, P's, and T's. Other sounds to enhance the
vowel sounds, a, e, i, o, and u. And more, a whole lot more.
I resolutely rehearsed every day from this Manual. My voice
gradually became de-regionalized. Plus this: My self-confidence
went up a lot.
What about you?
The brilliant Jack Lacy departed this plane decades ago.
And I have the original pages including every voice exercise
he taught me. You may have a copy of the whole collation with
Simply order any printed or audio product I offer. A physical
print or audio product and not a pdf. Ask me to include your
complimentary copy of the Jack Lacy voice exercises.
Here's how to do it:
1. Know your stuff:
Work diligently to make yourself an expert at something.
Then, a world-class expert. You can do it. Never stop uncovering
new truths, new insights, new strategies.
Relentlessly refine your processes, your stories, your
humor. Be that ever-opening thousand petaled lotus. Continue
to evolve as long as you draw breath.
2. Be your message:
More than anything you say or do, what your audience receives
from you is your beingness, your state of being, your essence.
Elements of your essence include your values, your principles,
your personal philosophy. These are seen in your stance,
mirrored in your glance, reflected in the resonance of your
Allow yourself to put your hand on your audience's shoulder
and make their whole world change.
3. Resolutely research:
Make up your mind you will get to know more, share more,
give more, than anyone else anywhere. Subscribe to every
periodical in your area of expertise. Buy and read every
book, every Report, every word treating your specialty.
Do not stop with hard copies. Investigate internet files.
Often an obscure mention can open up new possibilities missed
4. Synthesize and simplify:
Make your findings as easy as possible to understand and
accept. One way to do this is to tell stories of your adventures
doing your research.
Let your stories help you put your hand on your audience's
shoulder and make their whole world change.
5. Create a General Session Speech:
Include your unique take, your insights, your what-to's.
Weave these threads together into a fascinating exposition.
Include your personal stories, pratfalls and illustrations.
Let them amplify and make clearer your points. Share vignettes
you alone can tell because you lived them.
6. Produce a Breakout Session Program:
This may be a how-to seminar. Or a hands-on workshop. This
is where you get into the nuts and bolts of your findings.
7. Conclude with an action plan:
- "Here's what you can do now . . ."
- "These are the actions I recommend . . ."
- "Take these steps and you'll . . ."
Let the experiences you create for your audiences be illuminating,
entertaining, laced with touches of humor, and enlivened by
your personal stories.
Determine that you will touch people deeply, meaningfully,
Resolve that you will put your hand on their shoulder
and cause their whole world to change.