Last Wednesday’s Presidential Inauguration Ceremony highlighted an exceptional new voice. Amanda Gorman touched the soul of a nation – and the globe – when she enlightened us with her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Ms. Gorman’s recitation suspended us in wonder, rediscovering our ability to embrace hope and believe in our progress as a nation. Most of her phrasing that touched me is what I continue to hear others repeat: laying down our arms to reach out our arms, never again sowing division, love becoming our legacy and change our children’s birthright, stepping into our past to repair it, and, of course, her powerful closing, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. / If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
Equally as powerful as her content was Ms. Gorman’s beautifully artistic delivery. Her voice and cadence mesmerized, her pauses perfectly placed to let her words settle in our souls. Listening became a multi-sensual experience. With hands softly gesturing, Ms. Gorman accentuated her diction like a hula dancer, deliberately and subtly suggesting motion to complement, never overtake, her words. Millions of people drew breath, becoming fully still to absorb this ethereal experience.
This speaker’s wisdom awed us. Her gentle guidance and instruction for our path to healing and hope renewed us. Amanda Gordon is a gifted speaker indeed. We collectively asked, “Who is this powerful speaker?” And we were further inspired to learn of her youth, being just 22 years of age, of her speech impediment, of her auditory processing disorder. Her story, her poetry, her recital, all renewed the power of the spoken word. How fitting that Dr. Jill Biden, an English professor, invited Ms. Gorman, for Amanda Gorman personifies every victory a great education can offer.
Hours later, I attended a Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters meeting, listening to Lakshmi Sridhar’s speech, “Where There’s A Will, There Is Definitely A Way,” about a recent health scare she had experienced. Lakshmi shared with a thoughtful, deliberate delivery, with gentle hand gestures, slowing her words so that we could absorb the full experience of her delivery. Well after this speech, I realized that what I most enjoyed about listening to Lakshmi was the similarity shared with Amanda Gorman’s recital: a fully-integrated storytelling experience.
At this point, I realized how enormously powerful Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters is, for we are not simply seeking to empower, we are actually empowering each other as speakers and leaders, developing our voices to improve our lives and our communities. How fabulous that this club equips speakers and leaders to evoke an audience response similar to that which Amanda Gorman’s now famous poetry reading evoked. At Women L.E.A.D., we are each other’s Dr. Biden, promoting each other’s growth and development; we are each other’s Amanda Gorman, inspiring through our powerful stories. At Women L.E.A.D., we dare to see and be the light.
Please join us to inspire and be inspired at our next meeting, February 3 at 7:00 pm for our theme, Meaningful Goals. What could be more meaningful than growing together?
Written by Megan G. Mayer, member of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters