Here’s a tip to help you quickly stand out from other speakers, connect with your audience, and make them feel as if your speech is tailored just for them.
Use call backs.
If you’re not familiar with these, they’re one of the most effective tools you can use to engage an audience. It’s been said “If you want your audience to listen to your message, get ‘em laughing.” Effectively utilized, call backs create laughter and set the audience up for your main point.
Why do they work so well? Two reasons:
1) When you refer back to a previous speaker[s], it shows you’re paying attention.
2) Because they are unexpected, call backs usually create a big laugh, which gets the audience on your side.
For example, in a recent speech contest, the main point of my talk was to encourage the audience to stop taking life so seriously and to laugh more. Early in the speech, I asked the them to “think about something from everyday life that drives you crazy, r-e-a-l-l-y gets under your skin. It could be a malfunctioning cell phone; malfunctioning computer; malfunctioning kid…especially one that wants you to jump off a 105-foot tower…..”
Since you probably weren’t at that contest, you won’t understand the context of that line. The speaker before me, my friend David, gave a great speech about how the words we say to our kids can encourage them to take risks, or scare them into inaction.
During his main story, David recounted a day at an amusement park, and how his 8-year old son wanted to jump off a 105-foot tower, while tethered to a harness. He wanted Dad to join him. David was terrified, and had no interest, but, eventually he acquiesced in order to set an example for his son to take risks.
When I called back to the line in which David referenced the 105-foot tower, the audience roared with laughter. It let them know I was paying attention, and in the moment.
How do you create a great callback? Build it into your speech. Create a ‘space’ that will allow you to insert a line from another speaker.
In my speech, I knew that most people could relate to malfunctioning cell phones and computers, and the term malfunctioning could be used with a third item/person referred to in a speech before mine. I simply needed to listen closely to other speakers and ‘borrow’ a line from one of them and insert it into my speech.
Since this was a contest, if I had been the first speaker, I could have referred to frustrating incidents from earlier in the day, such as the lavaliere mic that malfunctioned for 45-minutes during our sound check. This would have also created a big laugh because the audience was frustrated by the delay of the contest due to the mic problems. I chose the reference to David’s son because I thought it would get a bigger laugh.
If you’d like to see clips from each speech, click on these two links:
If you want a tool that will help you stand out, create a deeper connection more quickly, be sure to build in an opportunity to use call backs. They’ll improve the odds that you’ll stand out and your message will get through.