Recently, I was talking with Denise, a coaching client who lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is often speaking about a challenging subject: living with HIV. We were discussing the emotional impact her topic has on others.
“Michael, many people don’t want to hear my story because they think it doesn’t apply to them.”
I said, “Denise, you’re not just talking about HIV. You’re making them aware of the impact that all illnesses and diseases have on employees. You’re also making them aware that disabled individuals can bring great benefits to them.”
Denise laughed, “It DOES open their eyes and get them out of their comfort zones.”
The next words that flew out of my mouth weren’t planned; they didn’t come FROM me, they came THROUGH me:
One of THE biggest challenges in speaking is how to quickly stand out. Because our audience is bombarded every day by countless advertisements, distractions and requests for their time, they tend to hide in a protective ‘bubble’ that keeps them from being overwhelmed.
This is understandable, by the way. Without this protection, they’d go insane trying to process every message.
This is where our problem as speakers is compounded. The bubble often creates a false sense of security. People miss out on opportunities or messages that COULD help them, because the good ones get lumped in with all the rest they’re keeping out.
I saw this far too many times when I was a financial planner. Products that could help families accumulate money faster and more safely, or protect them more efficiently were sometimes ignored because these people weren’t letting new information through their bubble. It was frustrating because I KNEW I could make their lives better, but they weren’t hearing the benefits, and taking action.
How can you pierce the bubbles of your audience, change their focus and compel them to act on your message?
Step outside of YOUR comfort zone. This is difficult because, at your core, you want to help people – that’s why you speak. But experience shows that in order to do this, you have to first make them feel uncomfortable, or you probably will not get their attention.
In other words, ‘Shake ‘Em Up To Wake ‘Em Up’
In order to get buy-in to your message, show people what their lives will be like if they DON’T take action on that message. If you effectively ‘paint this picture,’ you’ll cause some level of discomfort, or even pain.
I know what you may be thinking, because some people have told me, “Michael, that is manipulative. I won’t do that.”
I understand that immediate reaction; I used to feel the same way when I was early in my selling career. But then, something changed my perspective: people weren’t buying what I was selling.
I wasn’t upset by this just because I was going broke; I KNEW that their lives would improve – sometimes significantly – if they’d listen, and buy.
One day, my mentor Craig reminded me, “Michael, people won’t buy anything from you if they’re comfortable.” I realized I couldn’t sell my valuable products simply by being nice.
As I experimented with ways to ‘pierce the bubble of security,’ I learned that I didn’t have to be a jerk, or pushy; I could be the same nice, respectful person that I am, and still present my ideas professionally and positively impact others.
Why am I sharing this with you? Chances are, you’re like my client Denise – you’re kind, generous and want to help. Your best chance of doing that is to acknowledge that people tend to live in a protective bubble. Craft your message in a way that challenges their status quo, show them what life will be like if the don’t act on your message. This gives you the best opportunity to reach the most minds and hearts, and positively impact lives.
In other words, ‘Shake ’em up to wake ’em up when you are speaking.’
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