Jul 31, 2015

When the Speaker is the Hero of His Story

I have listened to numerous speakers over the years of widely different backgrounds, levels of knowledge and personality.  Some often include material about themselves in their talks, some rarely or never do. 

As for those who do, there are different categories of personal information.  There is background information, where they came from, where they grew up, how their parents raised them, an anecdote that took place in their childhood, what their rosh yeshiva or teacher told them, sometimes a self-deprecating account, etc.

Then there are personal encounters that occurred, whether on an airplane, in shul, in a store, and what the person said and how the speaker responded.

There are hashgacha pratis stories, seeing the Yad Hashem intervene in their lives and direct them.

There are incidents that are related in which the speaker wants to illustrate a midda or good practice and they tell the audience how they do that which they are telling the audience to do. 

And then there are stories in which the speaker is the hero.

I like hearing personal accounts.  They are usually interesting.  What I find off-putting is when the speaker, who is the hero of his own story, comes across (to me) as tooting his own horn.  It's fine to tell an audience to do as he or she does, because it's encouraging to hear that the person telling us to do something, does it himself.  It's when the speaker comes across sounding very pleased with himself that he's crossed the line.  Some acknowledgment of Hashem providing them with the right words or the right approach, some expressions of humility, make a difference.

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