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A Great Read

A speech by Verity Price

August 28, 2021

Winner, World Championship of Public Speaking, 2021. A truly remarkable, high-connection speech made more remarkable considering this contest was via Zoom with contestants delivering their speeches to an audience-free, blank screen.

Watch it first on YouTube, then read...

When I was a little girl
I used to love snuggling on my dad's lap
When he read me fairy tales.
Not surprisingly
I grew up wanting
The fairy tale-
To be happily married
With beautiful kids-
A gorgeous home-
And a great career-
By 30.

I never dreamed
I would turn 40
No children
And living
In my sister and brother-in-law's spare room.

For my ego
Was a scary-tale.

So I hid
In the spare room -
Eating ice-cream
And binge-watching

Contest Chair-
Have you ever noticed
That at your worst
Run into someone at their best?
I had dragged myself to the shop
Just to get more ice-cream
Thinking - no one I know
Is going to be there.
But there she was.
That friend!
You know the one
Their life - is perfect.
And - they tell you.

Here I am
Hand on fridge
Having to hear how
How happily ever after
She has ended up.
Oh, you're married with kid,
And you're in business
And you bought a new house.
Me? - I'm great -

I wanted to die.
I was a mess!
My life was a mess!
The spare room was a mess!

But this was the mess-
Where I found
The last letter my dad ever wrote me. (holds up letter)
Seeing his familiar handwriting
Just flooded me with grief...
Verity - your life is a book
And if you're not enjoying the read
Write a different story-
And then watch for a miracle.
Because I'm watching too.

I'm fresh out of miracles Dad,
And how do I write
A different story about them?

To prove my point,
I went to FACEBOOK
And - you guessed it!
There were no stories
Of miserable 40-year-olds
Living in spare rooms.
But the letter just lay there
It was like it was looking at me
Almost whispering-
Write- A-Different-Story.

If anyone could write a different story
It was my dad-
He wasn't a glass half-full guy
He was a 'aren't I lucky
I've got a glass' guy.
When Dad was 60
He lost his job
We lost our home
And had to live in a campervan.
But the story Dad told was-
We get to live like we're on holiday.
He never complained that he'd gone
From a corner office
To selling insurance - door-to-door.
Instead the story he told was-
I'm working on my sales skills.
And the miracle that happened?
He was salesman of the year
And he bought us a new home.

Even in our last phone call
On his way to hospital
Do you know what he said to me?
Don't worry, V-
You know I love breakfast in bed!

Shame - hit me - like a bus!
My whole life
Dad had been showing me
How to write a different story.
So - I picked up my pen
I looked at 'that' friend
And I thought -
40 is going to be my best chapter.
I looked at the spare room
And thought-
This is my safe place to start over.
I looked at my love life
And do you know what I thought?
I have got to stop- kissing frogs!

When I wrote a different story
My life began to change.
I went from feeling shameful-
To feeling grateful.
And for the first time
I stopped worrying
About where I wasn't -
And started enjoying
Where I was!
And the miracle that happened?
Within 6 months-
I'd moved into a new cottage -
Much to my sister's relief.
Within a year-
I'd kissed a prince -
Much to my relief.
At 44-
I had a baby boy -
Much to my doctor's DISBELIEF.

This letter
Catapulted me into discovering
That it doesn't matter-
Who you are-
Where you are-
What chapter of your life you are in-
Something as simple
As choosing to write a different story
Can make difficult circumstances
A lot easier to deal with.

Now I think you'll agree with me
That the last two years
Have been a rough read for us all
But we've also written different stories
Ones where-
Neighbours get to serenade each other-
Businesses get to pivot and innovate
And my all-time favourite-
That time when we all waved our wands
And - Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo
  Your world - turned into an auditorium
And mine - an international stage!

My fellow story-tellers
Do you know what I've learned?
Fairy tales
Are great to read - to my son.
Real life
Is full of detours, delays-
And things that go wrong.
But - as my dad said -
Life is a book
Then everyday
You get to decide
If your story being written is
For you - or by you.

When my dad reminded me
I was the author of my life
My life changed.
So -
If you're looking for a change
Or want a new chapter
Or just fancy a miracle
Pick up your pen
And write a different story.

Trust me!
It's going to make
For a GREAT read!

Contest Chair!

816 words

(C) 2021 Verity Price ( Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Brian Woolf's comments: A previous WCPS, Morgan McArthur, observed "The more personal the speech, the more universal it's reach." Verity's speech is very personal-it's about herself, her disappointments and failures, and her father who helps her see things differently. And there's even an acquaintance who is a pain (we usually have one of those, too.) The speech reached us all. We immediately related to baby Verity snuggling in her dad's lap, and then to the ups and downs, experiences and influences, in her life: the spare room, "that" friend, her life's a mess, dad's last letter, Facebook, "breakfast in bed," being shown how to write a different story, stopping kissing frogs, and, finally - it doesn't matter who or where you are, you can always write yourself another story. Verity stepped through our Zoom screen and took us, completely absorbed, through this fascinating, relatable journey, painting her story from her palate of speaking tools: triples, twists, rhyme, personification, humor, contrast, threading, repetition, emotion, despair and hope, agreement questions, and her constant audience connection throughout. This highly visual, inspirational speech of hope is a kaleidoscope of vividly painted, relatable, memorable images that support Verity's valuable message: it is a speech that will be enjoyed and studied by many in many countries.

Copyright © 2021 - 2022 Verity Price (
Copyright © 2022 Brian Woolf