There are two types of public speakers. Some know what their talking about and how to articulate their message. Others unfortunately don’t know how to properly connect with the audience. If you are speaking to people recovering from addiction, you definitely want to be the former. Recovery is a tough process and emotional support is always a necessity. Public speakers offer a unique opportunity to speak generally and offer wisdom to those in need of encouragement. However, in order to make a positive effect, the public speaker needs to understand where the demographic is coming from.
Know the nature of addiction
When someone is getting treatment for addiction, the one thing that makes them uncomfortable is when people don’t understand their condition. Addiction is not a moral choice. It is a disease. Most of us would erase our addiction if we could. But unfortunately our bodies and minds are bullied by a compulsion that we wish we did not have. Speak to the audience with a firm understanding of what they go through every day.
Speak to them, not above them
Almost as important as what you talk about is how you say it. Do you talk outside of the audience, or do you speak as one of them? Usually a good public speaker for addiction has gone through a similar struggle and came out of it. They know the struggle, guilt, and compulsion that comes with living in the disease. The best thing you could possibly do, is to speak with a voice of honesty, patience, and love. You need to believe in your patients, because you know the value of someone believing in you.
Provide Realistic Hope
Information and strategies go a long way in recovery. But the only thing that gets anybody through a dark tunnel is hope. Hope needs to be more than just wishful encouragement; it needs to be an assurance of victory. When a person looks at a public speaker who has overcome their addiction, they will be reminded of the fact that the struggle can in fact be defeated. It reminds them that it is possible. The speaker needs to not only articulate that message of hope, but they also need to believe in it themselves. They need to know what it is like to yearn for help, and find relief. When it is all over, the people watching will finally see hope rather than being told new rules and strategies.