How To Tell A Political Story

by drjim on February 24, 2015

Politicians are speakers who tell stories to get us to vote for them

Politicians are speakers who tell stories to get us to vote for them
Image Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives

If you are like me, you don’t really seek out politicians to add to your list of friends. However, whenever an issue comes up that we really care about, all of a sudden we have a habit of becoming very, very interested in politics. As speakers, we need to realize that politicians are also speakers who just happen to realize the importance of public speaking. What might set them apart from us is that they give speeches with a very specific goal – to get or remain elected. Perhaps we can learn something from how they tell stories…

Honesty Counts

I almost feel embarrassed for bringing this one up – honest politicians? Well, this is the way that it works: when a politician tells a story, it has to be believable by the audience that is hearing it. If there is any part of the story that is fabricated or has been changed from the way that it really happened, then the politician is going to be in trouble. We have been taught to instinctively not trust what politicians tell us. This means that if a story that they are sharing with us becomes unbelievable, then the point of that story is going to be lost on us.

Own Your Mistakes

I make mistakes, you make mistakes, politicians make mistakes. If when a politician tells a story part of it turns out to not be correct (often times things have changed), then he or she needs to come clean when the discrepancy is discovered. If they learn it before their audience does, then they can gain a great deal of credibility by being the first to bring it up.

Clarity Counts Also

One of the big challenges that any speaker has when they are telling a story is that stories tend to be long. When something is long, your audience can become confused or lost while you are telling it. Politicians need to be aware of this and go to special lengths to make sure that the stories that they tell are very clear. The goal is to hook the audience at the beginning and then to keep them with you throughout the telling of the entire story.

Highlight What Really Counts

What’s interesting when telling a political story is that every audience that you’ll be telling it to is just a little bit different. What this means for you is that the part of your story that you choose to highlight should change each and every time that you tell it. Make sure that the parts that will resonate with your current audience are the ones that you focus on and everything else can be downplayed.

What All Of This Means For You

Politicians are speakers who understand the benefits of public speaking and who speak with a purpose – to get elected. One of their most powerful tools is the story. As speakers we can learn a thing or two by taking a look at how politicians use stories to communicate their message to an audience.

When a politician tells a story, they need to be honest. Anything that even hints at an untruth will cause them to lose their audience. We all make mistakes and politicians do also. However, when they screw up, they need to step right up and own their mistakes if they want their audience to keep listening to them. Stories can be winding and unclear if we are not careful. A politician’s telling of a story always has to be clear and he or she needs to highlight the right points.

No matter how you feel about politics or politicians, I think that we can all agree that the successful ones are generally very good speakers. We can learn a lot from them. Take the time to listen to how a politician tells a story and then use those techniques in your next speech and you just might get elected!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many stories do you think that you can fit into a 30-minute speech?

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P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The ultimate goal for any of the speeches that we give is to have them be remembered. The real challenge for all of us is to find ways to leverage the importance of public speaking and make this happen. The good news is that there is a simple, time-tested method that can transform a ho-hum speech into one that will be able to be recalled long after you are done talking. What is this secret technique you ask? Simple: it’s storytelling.

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2 Ways To Get Your Audience To DO SOMETHING!

by drjim on February 17, 2015

Every speaker wants their audience to go take action!

Every speaker wants their audience to go take action!
Image Credit: Lasse Rintakumpu

I must confess: I do enjoy hearing myself speak. However, when I give a speech in addition to listening to myself talk, I want to convince my audience to actually do something based on the information that I have shared with them. It’s relatively easy to give a speech; despite the importance of public speaking it can be much harder to cause people to take action based on your words. I do have a couple of secrets that I use to make things happen when I talk.

It’s All About Pictures

If you want to persuade an audience to do something, then you are going to have to use all of the tools that are available to you. In order to discover what works, you’re going to have to take a moment and think about what other types of communication your audience is being exposed to – and what seems to work the best.

The answer, of course, is that your audience is being bombarded with high quality advertisements each and every day. What this means for you as a speaker is that you’re going to have to work advertisements for your main idea into your next speech. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this.

What you are going to have to do is to find ways to bring your message to life while you deliver it. To make this happen you are going to have to use your body language, handouts, visual aids, and props. Anything that you can do to make what you are talking about seem more “real” for your audience will go that much further to help them become both involved in your ideas and motivated to take action.

Do You Mind If I Provoke You?

Getting your audience to actually take the next step once your speech is over can be very hard to do. One way to convince them to do this is to provoke them. You don’t want them to be comfortable after you are done talking, instead you want them to be uncomfortable in a way that can only be relieved by taking action.

The way that you provoke an audience is by providing them with a very clear and specific call to action that, if they follow, will lead them to the results that you have promised that they’ll be able to achieve. What this means for you is that you need to have a very clear understanding of just exactly what you want your audience to achieve by taking action.

Ultimately you’ll need to have a way to determine if you have achieved your purpose in giving your speech. Provoking your audience and then telling them exactly what they have to do as you wrap up your speech gives you a great ending and provides them with a very clear next step.

What All Of This Means For You

Every speech that we give is done so for a reason. Somebody asked us to take the time, prepare a speech, and then stand in front of an audience and deliver it. The reason that most of us are willing to go to the effort to do all of this has to do with the benefits of public speaking: we want to change the world. We want our audience to get up and go take action based on having heard our speech.

In order to make this happen, we need to be able to capture their attention. This can be a real challenge in today’s sensory overloaded society. One way that speakers can make this happen is by appealing to our audience’s visual facilities. We can do this by presenting them with images and props. Additionally, we can provoke our audience. By doing this we’ll challenge them to take action. This might just what it will take to motivate them to do something.

Giving a speech can be tough work. Getting your audience to do something based on your speech is even tougher. The good news is that there are ways to make this happen. Using images and provoking your audience can get them to do what you want them to do – take action!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you can go too far in provoking your audience?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you are like me, you don’t really seek out politicians to add to your list of friends. However, whenever an issue comes up that we really care about, all of a sudden we have a habit of becoming very, very interested in politics. As speakers, we need to realize that politicians are also speakers who just happen to realize the importance of public speaking. What might set them apart from us is that they give speeches with a very specific goal – to get or remain elected. Perhaps we can learn something from how they tell stories…

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