"People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)
Truer words in speaking have never been said.
My wife drives a Lexus. I'm not saying that to brag, but to prove a point. When we were car shopping, we saw cheaper vehicles that perform almost just as well as the Lexus, had bells & whistles. We even saw some sleek exteriors as well. But we still settled on the Lexus.
And honestly, we bought it for the "L". The little "L" piece of metal that adorns the trunk and centre of the steering wheel.
Why? Because we buy with emotion and justify with logic.
Sure we saw more reasonably priced cars. But Lexus equals a bit more luxury, a bit more status, and a bit more class than the other cars we saw. And that's why we bought it. But we tell people, "we got a good deal", or "it drives better than the other cars" or some other reason that, although it's probably true, it's not why we bought the car.
My wife loves the car because of how it makes her FEEL. She loves sitting in the heated leather seats. She loves the push button start and the low hum of the engine. She loves cruising on the highway and feeling the smooth power of the vehicle.
Emotion is why we buy.
Emotion is also why we listen.
When you speak, you had better evoke some emotion out of your audience. Otherwise you WILL be forgotten after your speech is over. Maybe even before.
Make your audience do one of three things, and they will remember you long after you have finished speaking. Make them do all 3, and you will be far ahead of most speakers.
1) Make them LAUGH
I start with this one due to personal reasons. I love giving inspirational speeches. I literally get goosebumps when I get to the main message within my speech. I remember going to a conference and a speaker taught a breakout session on how to speak. He said that he gave motivational speeches, and that humor "wasn't his thing". I remember nodding thinking, "Yup! That's me! I'm a motivational guy, not a funny guy." I couldn't have been more misguided. The truth is this - If eyes are the window to the soul, laughter is the gateway. Comedian Steve Harvey once said that his mentor Bill Cosby told him that when you get people to laugh, you have their undivided attention. And when you have someone's undivided attention, you have the ability to affect them and make a positive impact on their lives. Once I learned that, I made it a point to uncover and add humor EVERY time I speak, regardless of topic. If you want to impact your audience,add excitement to every speech, and have audiences asking to hear more of you, you should do the same.
2) Make them THINK
When you speak, as Speaker Susan Lamb-Robinson says, you need to "Get under the skin, and get into the heart". Sometimes you have to make people think about the pain they will have if they don't follow the message that you are suggesting. Sometimes people won't move until the pain of standing still hurts badly enough. So don't be afraid to make your audience think. The emotion of Fear resulting from Inaction, can often be as powerful as the emotion of Happiness resulting from taking action. Make them Think, make them Feel, and they will Remember and Act.
3) Make them REFLECT
Reflection is an extension of thinking. When you find ways to make your audience not only think, but to reflect on their OWN reality or events from their past, then you've really got something! When people think about your story, you relate to them. But when they additionally REFLECT on their own stories in addition to yours, then you've moved them. They will be listening to you, while feeling the emotions related to their own lives. And that is a VERY powerful effect to have on someone. Get them to reflect, and they will be waiting for YOU to tell them what to do next.
People may forget what you say, but they will NEVER forget how you made them feel. And if you make them feel, they will also remember the most important things that you say.
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.