Imagine a group of people floating on small rafts down a river. The water flow is calm and smooth. It’s a serene experience that leaves them relaxed and comfortable.

In the speaking world, this is the equivalent of delivering a talk that’s predictable, requires no thought, and…

Doesn’t inspire them to take action.

You’ve left listeners feeling exactly the same at your conclusion as they did at the opening.

If this is your goal, then continue leading your audience down that river.

How To Inspire Change

Most speakers want to inspire change — new ways of feeling, thinking, or acting. If that’s you, it’s vital to guide your audiences’ down a different type of river. This is one filled with large rocks and boulders that create rough waters, and hidden dangers.

People navigating this water need to be alert, adjust the route, and make quick decisions. This experience fosters growth, resilience, and change.

A well-crafted speech should be like this second river:

A ride that disrupts the audience’s comfort zone. It forces them to engage, reconsider, and take action that leads to transformation.

Nurture Adaptability

The most effective business leaders understand that comfort rarely leads to growth. No matter what your subject, strive to challenge your audience’s thinking and emotions.

Well constructed and delivered stories can create this effect. Share narratives that present problems, conflicts, and resolutions. These compel the audience to adapt, rethink, and innovate.

Provoke Action

When audience feel comfortable, they’re less likely to take action. Your presentation should instill urgency. It should provide a call-to-action that’s as invigorating as navigating around river rapids.

This stimulates actions, ranging from new sales strategies,  disruptive technologies, or innovative thinking.

Unlocking Emotional Engagement

Tell relevant stories that tap into the audience’s lack of one or more of the Five Emotional Cs:

  • Control
  • Certainty
  • Comfort
  • Confidence
  • Clarity

This can spur your listeners out of apathy. It can evoke emotions that compel them to invest in your product, service, or idea.

The Ultimate Goal

The clichéd ideal response to a memorable speech is a standing ovation. That should not be your goal.

The ideal result of a meaningful and memorable presentation is this:

Audiences who buy into your vision, product, or idea. It’s the equivalent of navigating treacherous river rapids. Listeners can emerge stronger and more skilled at the end of their journey.

The ability to adapt and innovate is critical. Your ability to jolt your audience out of complacency is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.

When you prepare your next presentation, remember the image of the river. A smooth, calm, and relaxing trip down the water won’t inspire your listeners to take action.

Instead, drop a few boulders in the river and create rapids that are difficult to overcome. You’ll grab their attention. You’ll shake them out of their complacency. You’ll compel them to take new actions that are in their best interest.

About The Author

Michael Davis has served business leaders, sales professionals, and speakers on five continents. He’s helped TEDx speakers create talks that have achieved over five million views. He’s written seven books about business storytelling, including The Book On Storytelling, and online courses focused on improving your presentation skills.

If you’d like to talk to Michael about how he could help you with your organization with your communication skills, check out his resources or contact him at his virtual business card:




Get People Off Their Butts And Into Action Via The Emotional “River” ultima modifica: 2023-09-06T11:35:48-04:00 da Michael Davis