For years, I have challenged clients to strive for connection with their audience. If you connect with the people sitting in front of you, they’re more likely to hear your message and act on it. Makes sense, right?
There’s one problem with this advice, and that didn’t become clear to me until a recent coaching call. There is one important person you must connect with before you can create a bond with your audience….
It means that you have to completely buy into and live your message and your story. You have to believe that they have value to others.
You and I have heard far too many people give forgettable presentations. They didn’t sell you on their ideas.
Most likely because they weren’t authentic and most likely didn’t believe in their message.
If you don’t believe in the power of your message, there is no way your audience will.
Most don’t understand the power of their experiences. I learned this in 2010 when I was a novice public speaking skills coach.
My mother and I were chatting over lunch. She was telling me about her childhood experiences in France. She was born in the early days of the German occupation in World War 2.
She said, “Almost every night, we’d hear the air raid sirens. It was pitch-black because there were blackout conditions. Your grandparents would grab me and my sister. They’d run down the steps from our apartment above the factory. It was about 50 yards across the parking lot into the bomb shelter.”
“In the mornings, when we woke up, our first question wasn’t, “What are we going to eat today?” It was, “ARE we going to eat today?” Every day, your grandpa would walk a quarter-mile into the village. He’d stand by the food trucks while the German soldiers unloaded them.
Sometimes, potatoes would spill out of one of the burlap bags and he’d scoop them up and put them in his pocket. That was a good day because we got to eat potato soup.”
She was telling me this in my air-conditioned home in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. I lived 3 minutes from a grocery store that has fully-stocked shelves 24 hours a day. I’d grown up in a safe small town and never felt in danger. I couldn’t conceive of what she’d told me.
After several seconds, all I could think to say was, “Mom, how did you and Grandma and Grandpa do that?”
She looked at me for several seconds, then shrugged her shoulders and said, “Honey, it’s just what we did. We had to survive.”
Magic moment! With those words, Mom taught me that most people discount their experiences. Why? Because ‘it’s just what we did.” No matter how different or difficult a person’s experience, it was normal to that person.
Many people have grown up in a war-torn country. Or lived in a high-crime neighborhood. Or dealt with a devastating physical injury. They adjusted and did what they had to so that they could survive. They were often surrounded by people going through similar experiences.
Is it any wonder that they don’t see their life as extraordinary or special?
When I brought this perspective to my Mom’s attention, she said, “I never thought of it that way. It doesn’t seem special to me.” Since that conversation, she now has a different perspective on the impact of her story.
And that’s my suggestion to you. Tell your story to others who don’t know you well. Join Toastmasters. Take a Dale Carnegie course. Apply to speak at a storytelling event like the Moth. Get feedback. Ask what parts of your story stand out — and why?
Once you gain a new perspective on your story, a new message or premise may jump out at you. You’ll have a new viewpoint. You’ll no longer see your experiences as “just what we did.” You’ll see them as an opportunity to inspire and influence others.
And, you will connect with yourself at a deeper level.
Your Most Important Connection When You Speak ultima modifica: 2020-02-22T11:20:00-05:00 da