Use the Hallway Test to Personalize Your Speech
“How many of you have ever struggled to leave a lasting impact on an audience when you give a speech?”
When I ask this question to groups, many hands are raised. There are several reasons that speakers are quickly forgotten. One is a subtle, but powerful process that can create the feeling in an audience member that you’re speaking directly to that person.
This concept is called “Look to All, Speak to One.” It’s a simple delivery tool that will quickly connect you to individual audience members. It’s involves a slight, yet powerful change in how you ask questions.
Consider the question used to open this article, “How many of you have struggled to leave a lasting impact on an audience?” That is not exactly how I ask that question, although it’s the way most speakers ask it.
The key to the question is the words “How many of you have ever…” When an audience is asked this question, you’re speaking to the entire group – you’re missing the individual connection the question could provide.
The more effective way to pose this question is to ask “Have YOU ever….” By replacing “how many of you” with “you,” audience members will feel that you are talking specifically to them. Again, this is a subtle, yet powerful change that creates a deeper bond.
How do you know when to make this change? Use a simple test taught by my coach, Craig Valentine. It’s called the Hallway Test. Imagine you’re walking down a hallway, and as a friend approaches, would you ask, “How many of you are going out for lunch?” Or, would you ask, “Are you going out for lunch?”
Obviously, you’d choose the latter. You can use this test to structure any question in your speech to create the effect of “This speaker is talking directly to me.”
If you want your message to last long after you speak, an important step is to rephrase your questions with the Hallway Test. Do this, and your audience members will feel like you’ve had a one-on-one conversation just with them.
What have you done to create the feeling that you’re talking to each individual audience member?
You are invited to leave your thoughts below:
Educational Resources of the Week
The book ‘Start with WHY,’ by Simon Sinek. This is not a book about speaking or storytelling, but it’s a terrific tool to help create the foundation of your next presentation. Mr. Sinek has changed the point of view of people all around the world with this classic work. Once you understand and communicate your own “why,” your influence and impact on others will change dramatically. For more information, visit: http://amzn.to/1i65OV3.
Mr. Sinek also has a highly rated YouTube speech in which he elaborates on the concept of ‘Start With WHY.’ To see his presentation, visit: http://bit.ly/1r1ZTiO.
It’s hard to believe that by changing just three words, you can deliver an impact twice as powerful. I will put this technique in my next speech – thanks!
You’re correct – subtle shifts in HOW we express our thoughts can have a profound difference in the way people react to us.
I was taught many years ago to address as many audience members as possible during my talk by speaking directly into their eyes for 2-4 seconds. As I talk, I go around the audience with my eyes and I’ve learned that each member I have eye contact with feels I spoke directly to them. It takes pressure off of me, makes the audience feel I’m talking directly to them individually and enables me to see who is listening and who needs more of my attention.
Thanks for asking.
Jim, you are right on about eye contact. Far too many speakers either don’t look at their audiences, or use the ‘sweeping eye scan’ which prevents eye-to-eye contact.
The combination of you-focused statements with solid eye contact creates a feeling for the audience member that ‘this speaker is talking directly to me.’
Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and Happy New Year.
Mike – your message has just changed the opening lines of my speech to the Prime Timers at church on “Clean Up the Clutter.” It is a simple message that is easy to understand and help us connect better to our audience. Thank you very much!!!
Thanks Carol. You’re an inspiration because you are always learning and growing.
Happy New Year!