Making Something Out of Nothing: Using The Power of Vulnerability in a Speech



Welcome!  Thank you for joining me. This is the official podcast of, your #1 source for valuable information and helpful content on powerful presentations and public speaking. I’m your host NJ Lechnir.


I wanted to share a recent speech that I wrote. It contains some deep personal information about me and my past. But I wanted to show you how effective it be to share material like this with an audience.


I actually read it at a meeting for my speaking club. I wasn’t scheduled to deliver a speech, but I wanted to share it with them as a reading to see what they thought. I will let you know their reactions to this reading/speech at the end of this post.


The whole point in sharing this speech is to show you that you can write a speech like this too. It’s a great example of how you can use extremely personal details of your life to make a powerful impact.


Here it is:




Making Something Out of Nothing



Do you ever wish you could be a magician?


Wouldn’t it be awesome to make something out of nothing?


You’ve all seen how magicians and take a coin and hide it between their fingers, and presto chango, it suddenly appears in their hand. 


Or they might go into the audience and pull a quarter out from behind someone’s ear. And then they pull another coin from someone else’s ear. And so on. 


Even though it appears they made something out of nothing, you all know it was just a trick.


You always have something to begin with.




You’ve all heard of the television show Seinfeld right?


It was “the show about nothing” in Jerry’s words.


But was it really about nothing?


Well, they left the television airways when they were at #1 in the ratings.


You tell me. Was that nothing or was it something?




How do you make something out of nothing?


Let me tell you a story about a little boy who came from nothing.


He was 6 weeks premature and weighed 4 pounds when he was born.


He grew up without any money (well, just not a lot of money, but enough to survive).




His family was ripped apart by alcoholism and abuse.


He had panic attacks in 4th grade because he was so stressed about his home life.


He had chest pains in his teens years from internalizing emotional pain.


He suffered greatly from depression, anxiety, fear, and lack of confidence. He had terrible grades in school because he couldn’t focus and didn’t care.




After high school, he smoked and drank, and wasted all of his money.


He had dead end jobs that made him spin his wheels for years.


But he worked hard, and eventually he went to college.




His grades skyrocketed and he graduated with honors.


He decided that he wanted to help people.


He built a career that he was proud of.


He met and married a gorgeous brilliant woman.


He bought a house, saved money, and raised a beautiful family.




Then his dad died from illness due to smoking for over 50 years.


He went through a period of intense anger and depression.


Years later, his mom died from Alzheimer’s Disease, and he felt a sense of loss so deep that he couldn’t even express it in words.


Then he had a pivotal moment in life where he decided “I have to do something more. I have to let the world know who I am, and what I can do.”


“And I have to do this through public speaking.”




Who is that little boy that came from nothing?


(This is when I take out a mirror and hold it up to my face. I start talking to the image of a little boy in the mirror.)


“Oh there you are! Hello handsome! Where’ve you been?”


(The little boy answers back.) “I’ve been hiding, because I am nothing.”




“Nothing?? Why do you say that? Look at all the great things you accomplished in your life! You call that nothing?”


(The little boy answers back again.) “But I had so many disadvantages and hardships. My dad was never there for me, and he gave me nothing. If I had some help, I could have made something of myself.”




(This is where I tell the little boy to come out of the mirror and sit down with the audience and listen, because I have something very important to tell him.)




Your dad was in a lot of pain and didn’t know how to deal with it.


Remember when he worked 80 hours a week just to make sure you had food to eat, clothes to wear, a home to live in, and a bed to sleep in?


Your mom was also in a lot of pain, but her first priority was to make sure you were safe and cared for.


Remember when she used to make you soup when you were sick, and encouraged you to be kind to people, and follow your dreams, among many other things?




And what you have done so far in your life has proved that your potential is unlimited.


So you see, you didn’t come from nothing.


Nobody comes from nothing.




You came from the love your parents had together. They had every good intention in the world for you, and they did the best they could.


Even the best magicians in the world can’t make something from nothing.


You just need to realize that you were never nothing. There was always something there, and it was wonderful.


Now, isn’t that something??




Now I want to share with you how the audience reacted to this (recited) speech. They were genuinely moved by the intimate and vulnerable details of my speech. This story was obviously about me, and it was evident by the end of the speech. Several of them came up to me after the speech and thanked me for being so real and candid about my life.


One of my friends in the club asked me if it was hard to talk about my past like that? I said “No, I’ve done it so many times now. It doesn’t bother me anymore like it once did when I started. I do a much longer talk for 60 minutes that has a lot more detail than this. I do it because I get to make a connection with people and I know it helps them.”


So, now you see that it’s okay to open up painful moments of your life from the past and talk about them in your speeches. You never know who you can move, inspire, or help with your material. It’s okay to let people see that you are human, and that we all go through some kind of personal pain in life.


What kind of pain have you been through in your life? Do you think you could share it with an audience? I bet you could.


I want to thank you for joining me. This is the official podcast of, your #1 source for valuable information and helpful content on powerful presentations and public speaking. I’m your host NJ Lechnir signing off. I hope this content was helpful.


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Take care of yourself, and always keep leaping forward!




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