In the speaking world, the phrase ‘connect with your audience’ has almost become a cliche. I should know, I’ve been a big proponent of the idea.
But what does that really mean?
Sometimes, to answer a question like this, it helps to look at the opposite side of the question. What does it mean to be ‘disconnected’ from others?
To answer this question, I suggest you watch the movie ‘Disconnected.’ It’s a character-driven film that focuses on the ease of becoming disconnected from the people you love and care about. Since there are adult themes in this movie, it’s not your standard family film.
It centers around the lives of several families who, in their own way, are emotionally lost and distant from the people to whom they should be closest.
What struck me as each story unfolded was how drawn I was to each character because of their flaws. I could relate, and wanted each to experience some type of resolution.
From a speaking perspective, isn’t this what you want from an audience? Don’t you want them to relate to you, and ‘pull for you’ at the end of a difficult experience you’ve endured?
To create this type of bond, you must be willing to drop your guard and share a part of you that isn’t pleasant or pretty, or that you’re proud of. Back in 2004, when I decided to stop trying to be a polished speaker, and shared some of my failures, my connection with audiences became deeper and stronger. I left them with valuable messages rather than an image of me as someone with no problems or flaws.
You don’t need to have a movie made of your life to life to inspire others. When you’re willing to take the risk and expose some of your ‘warts’, you can create a bond with your audience that opens them up to a message that leaves a lasting impression.
What experiences have you had with this concept (feel free to leave comments below)?
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