“Life is about the frequency and intensity of experiences.” (Jim Rohn)
Your memories are very powerful. They can conjure emotions from the past, visual memories, and various feelings.
As a Speaker or Presenter, your words should leave a lasting impression. However, the word “lasting” is often forgotten. When you have stepped off of the stage, your listener should still have your words vibrating in their head. This “vibration” can be extended, if you give them a helping hand.
There are 3 questions to ask yourself when putting together your speech, that will ensure that your message lives on long after you and your audience have parted ways.
Question #1: Can I RELATE?
The first question is about getting the audience member to think “Wow. This person has gone through the same struggles that I have.” Why is this a good thought for them to have? Because it creates a connection. The closer your listener's thoughts are to yours, the better.
Think about the Characters, Circumstances and Conflict in your story. Is there a commonality that you can talk about? Are the people in your story similar in any way to the people in your audience? Is the problem a universal one? Is the circumstance of your story one that others can relate to?
Question #2: Can I REFLECT?
Secondly, get your audience to reflect by asking questions throughout your speech.
You can achieve this by a formula I call, “Feeding, Feeling and Fueling” your audience. For the first step, you “feed” them a question that gets them to reflect on THEIR version of your story. For example, “Have you ever met someone like this...?” When you talk about the “3P's” (People, Problems, and Places), consider asking your audience if they have experienced something similar to you.
Next, “feel” out the physical or verbal responses. Are there a lot of “hmm's” in the crowd? Is there an echoing silence that feels pensive? Are there head nods and emotions on the faces of your listeners? Once you have practiced reading your audience enough times, you will get a sense of what you have said that causes reflection in those you speak to.
Finally, “fuel” them with your story. As you speak, they will hear YOUR story, and think about THEIRS. Then you will be “vibeing” with your audience!
Question #3: Can I REMEMBER?
The last and most important step, is to ensure that you are remembered. As a speaker, change should be your goal, not just connection for a day. If your audience remembers your message an hour later, you have likely made a connection. If they remember it weeks and months later, you have made an impact. Here's how to go for the second.
Use “The Why and The Way” approach to achieve this. The first part of the equation, “The Why”, is simply about telling your audience why they should heed your message. Tell them what the benefits are of listening to your message, and what could happen if they don't. Tell them about the success that you or others have had by following your advice, and how they can achieve the same wins.
Next, give them “The Way”. Now you are moving from abstract to specific, a step that many speakers still do not take. Give your audience one next step to take after leaving your presence. Tell them what to do next as if you were giving out homework to a student. It may appear oversimplified, but you will find that a simple step given to people to do will be the very thing that changes many of their lives. Think about it for your next story. What is a simple, tangible step that your listeners can take to apply the message that you have shared?
Answering these 3 questions before you step on stage will give you a much richer story. Even more than that, it will show your audience that you are there for them. It will demonstrate to everyone who hears you that you care, and are not just standing on stage for an ego boost.
Good luck, and as always...
Keep Speaking, Sharing and Serving.
Kwesi Sekou Millington
Speaker, Mentor, Coach
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.