“My Inspiration”

Finally the time had arrived for me to give my tenth and final speech in the Competent Communicator Manual in Toastmaster.  This was to be a speech that would inspire my audience. An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally, or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience’s enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan. The objectives for speech 10 are:-

  • To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
  • Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and quotes to add drama.
  • Avoid using notes.

This is the speech I gave on 28 January 2013. Enjoy.


Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests.

This speech is meant to inspire my audience.  I started by looking up “inspire” and found the meaning “to fill with an animating or exalting feeling”.  Every day we strive to emulate our heroes.  It is their actions that inspire us, give us the determination to carry on and succeed in our goals.  Everyone has their own hero or source of inspiration, and we can but strive to equal these heroes and their motivation and inspiration.  We can also be inspired simply by a word or an image, or indeed by the actions of people around us.

One person who is an inspiration to me is Alfonso D’Abruzzo.  He was born on 28 January 1936 in the Bronx, New York.  At the age of 7 he contracted polio.  To combat the disease for two long years his parents administered a painful treatment regimen developed by Sister Kenny.  The treatment was the repeated application of hot woollen blankets to the affected limbs and stretching his muscles.  The treatment was a success and Alfonso resumed a normal life.  He pursued an acting career, following in the footsteps of his father Robert, changing his first name to Alan and adopting the same stage surname of Alda.  He starred in a few Hollywood movies but his big break came in 1972 when he was cast in the role of Captain Hawkeye Pierce in MASH.  His portrayal of this character brought laughter and joy on many an occasion and on others moved us to tears as he enacted each storyline making us feel as if we were there living his life with him.  This role continued for 11 years, during which time he also wrote and directed multiple episodes. 

When Alda won his first Emmy for writing he was so elated he performed a cartwheel on the way up to collect the award.  He went on to win 5 other Emmys for acting and directing and was the first person to win Emmy Awards for acting, writing and directing in the same series. 

But this is only half the story of Alan Alda.   While filming MASH he commuted from Los Angeles to his home in New Jersey every weekend for 11 years.  This is the kind of man he was.  He didn’t want to uproot his family just because of his career so instead he made the weekly commute across country.

Alan Alda also became a strong and vocal supporter of women’s right and the feminist movement, not a complete surprise as he was the only man in a household of wife and two daughters.  In 1976 the Boston Globe dubbed him “the quintessential Honorary Woman: a feminist icon” for his activism on behalf of the Equal Rights Amendment.  In 1982 he co-chaired the Equal Rights Amendment Countdown Campaign with Betty Ford. 

His co-stars have described him as a very generous actor and a thorough gentleman.  Alda also went on to star in multiple films and shows, including West Wing, ER, What Women Want and Tower Heist, to name but a few.

In 1993, at the age of 57 Alda embarked on a new series, Scientific American Frontiers.  The show focused on informing the public of new discoveries in science and medicine.  His natural curiosity and constant questioning to bring the information to a level everyone could understand made the show a success and he continued as the host until it ended in 2005.  Alda’s avid interest in science and cosmology led to him participating in the BBC coverage of the opening of the large hadron collider in Geneva in September 2008.  He also helped inspire the creation of the Centre for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in 2009 and still remains on the Advisory Board.

Another string to Alan Alda’s bow is the publishing of two books thus far.  The first published in 2005, was entitled Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I’ve Learned and it covers stories from his life.  The title, by the way, was inspired by an incident in his childhood. His father on seeing how distraught he was at the loss of the family dog decided to have it stuffed.  He was horrified by the results and took from this that sometimes we have to accept things as they are rather than desperately and fruitlessly trying to change them. 

The second book of memoirs published in 2007, weaves together advice from public speeches he has given with personal recollections about his life and beliefs. 

A quote that inspires me and is only one of many by Alan Alda is “Be brave enough to live life creatively.  The creative place where no one else has ever been”. 

Father, actor, writer, director, feminist are only a few of the words that begin to sum up Alan Alda.  His constant striving to change things for the better, to keep on going, irrespective of age, to follow his beliefs, to me are more than enough reasons to call this man an inspiration.  So happy birthday Alan Alda – may you have many more years of giving left in you.

Thank you.

 Well I hope you enjoyed this speech and maybe even found some inspiration by reading it through. Feel free to contact me if you have any comments or queries.

Elaine Beare

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare




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