Preface: this speech was given as an assignment, in an Advanced Public Speaking course, on September 10, 2012
“I’m not here to tell you what to do; I’m here to tell you what can happen.” That is how my rhetorical role model started every one of his speeches. His name is Danny Duval. You don’t know Danny, and unfortunately you never will. Because this summer, I lost my hero, as my city lost its legend. Throughout Danny’s lifetime he had spoken to hundreds of schools about his battle with drugs and alcohol.
He spoke at my high school my junior year and ever since, has invited me to go along with him to watch him speak and inspire a generation. When Danny speaks, everyone listens. He doesn’t just walk on stage, he takes it. He uses the perfect balance of emotion and humor. With every funny story, there’s a sad one.
Danny breaks up his speech into three stages; his success as a high school athlete, his struggles with drug abuse and how he turned his life around. His speech was certainly epideictic, for it celebrated a successful turnaround in a person’s life. He put a lot of work and preparation into his speeches, not one speech was the exact same. The speeches begin action packed, hooking the audience immediately. He rarely moves, in fact he sometimes sits on the edge of the stage to not distract the audience. He makes it feel like you’re the only person in this large auditorium, as if he’s talking directly to you.
The way he ended every speech was with his motto, “It’s all about the three ships: relationships, friendships, and championships. If you have the first two, the third is just a bonus.” He is the reason why I want to one day speak about dwarfism and diversity. He has taught me how to speak from the heart not the head. He taught me that audiences don’t like to hear facts or numbers. He taught me to keep promises and pay back those you owe as soon as possible. He taught me how to project my voice, slow down my speech and to speak with emotion. He taught me how to make a presence, even if I’m only standing 4ft tall. With him leaving me, he now has taught me to appreciate not my life but the people in it.
I know I’m one in a million he has impacted, but under this circumstance I’m glad to be one in that million. I was so lucky to have had him in my life. I promised him I’d pick him up to drive him to my first speech. Where he would be sitting, smiling in the front row. I have yet to speak and for that
I have let him down. I feel terrible, but I also feel motivated because I will be a product of Danny Duval. My rhetorical role model resides in heaven now, but his legacy will forever reside in my heart.