Re-LIVE Your Story
It was an unexpected moment. In front of 1,000 people, Anthony was giving the speech he’d been practicing for months. At the end of a key story – about an experience in his apartment in college – he stopped. He took a couple of steps to his left, looked up and paused for what felt like an eternity.
I thought, “Oh no, this is the same place he got stuck in rehearsals.”
After a few more seconds, he said, “I’m sorry. This has never happened. This is just really emotional for me.”
Almost immediately, people began to clap. That’s when it hit me – “He’s caught up in the moment. He’s emotionally back in that apartment 36 years ago. That is FANTASTIC!”
Anthony is one of the speakers I had the honor and privilege to coach for our recent TED X Cincinnati event. He is a revered and beloved member of our city. In his speech, “Move Forward,” he talked about his struggles during his senior year of college to overcome a third knee injury so that he could play one more college football game – the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
He described the difficulty every day of going to class, daily rehabilitation on his knee, homework and going home late every night to his one-bedroom apartment. Many nights, he cried on the shoulder of his wife DeDe.
During rehearsals, he had simply re-told this story. I felt it would impact the audience because it was a different side to this big, tough football player we had all come to admire. This was insight into the man long before he became a legendary NFL football player.
When Anthony was on stage, in the big moment, he wasn’t re-telling his story, he was re-living it. Unexpectedly, his emotions also relived the moment. And it was the most poignant and powerful part of his talk. The audience reacted because they could feel his emotion. He wasn’t Anthony Munoz the NFL Hall of Famer, he was Anthony the 21-year old kid who was struggling with life, as each of us has. We felt what he felt, and it was beautiful.
When I work with speakers, they’re frequently afraid to share their emotions because they feel the audience will see them as weak or that they’ll lose the connection. The truth is, it’s those reactions that create the bond – the unforgettable moments where people think “Hey, this person is just like me” and feel closer to you than any other words you can say.
The next time you speak, be willing to share those times when you struggled. And don’t be surprised if, “in the moment,” when the spotlight is on, you get caught up and relive the incident again, and provide your audience a memory they’ll never forget.
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