Human beings experience a multitude of emotions; researchers believe there are six primary types: love, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and anger. As a speaker, are you tapping into these emotions to pull your audience into your world and create a deeper connection?
Of the six emotions, surprise can create a memorable experience that impacts audiences long after you speak. Surprise can help you stand out from the crowd. How? Think about most presentations. Many are delivered in the “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em; Tell ‘em, and then, Tell ‘em what you just told ‘em” format.
What’s wrong with this? It’s predictable; it’s the same thing everyone else does. As Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp has said “sameness is boring”
At the opposite end of the boring spectrum, consider famous movies scenes that provided unexpected, even shocking twists: Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker, “No… I am your father”. Dr. Malcolm Crowe in the Sixth Sense realizing that he is, in fact, dead. Astronaut Taylor in the original Planet of the Apes realizing that he has returned, not to a foreign planet, but a post-apocalyptic Earth and that humanity has been wiped out.
You may not be creating a Hollywood blockbuster with your next speech, but you can use the element of surprise to catch your audience off guard and grab their attention. For example, in a presentation I give about how to deepen your connection with others, I have looked at an audience and said, very loudly, “I cannot believe how STUPID you act sometimes!” After a long, drawn-out pause, I say “While standing in line at the grocery store, THAT is what I heard the twenty-something mother say to her toddler.”
Is my audience surprised? You bet. First, because I have, at first glance, called them stupid. Then, surprise because I am actually telling a real story I experienced. For some people, there is a third surprise… that someone would actually speak to a toddler that way. I have their attention, I have touched their emotions, and they are engaged.
All of that captured in just 2 sentences and 14 seconds. When you have their emotions, you have their attention. When you have their attention, you have an opportunity to change lives.
As you write, or re-write your next presentation, think about how you can get away from the same old formula, create those twists, and grab your audience’s attention. The result just may surprise you.
© 2012, Michael Davis. All rights reserved.