Speakers Can Connect By Using Cultural References

Pop culture can help us to better connect with our audience
Pop culture can help us to better connect with our audience Image Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões

The ultimate goal of any speaker is to be able to give a speech that allows us to connect with our audience. We all know that if we can connect with our audience, then we have a real chance to change them and, after all, isn’t that really why we gave the speech in the first place? However, this connecting thing can be tricky to do. If we really want to have any chance to be able to connect with our audience, then we’re going to have to find a way to build bridges between our speech and them. It turns out that we are in luck. If we can find a way to work cultural references into our speech, then we just might be able to connect with them.

Using Culture To Connect

As a speaker, you must reach out and connect with your next audience in a way that allows them to feel the impact of your message. We would all like to be able to connect with our audience on a personal, emotional and culturally significant level by saying just one sentence. It turns out that if you make a connection in just a few words, you will have more time for quotes, catch phrases, supporting material and other meaningful ways of delivering and reinforcing your message. Making cultural references tell the audience, “I am like you. We share a common background.”

Layered References

In your next speech, article or other presentation, you won’t have time to explain things like an entire television show or the connection between rock bands and their lead singers. What this means is that you need to research and select your references carefully to reach a broad audience with minimal explanation needed. The good news is that folk stories, fairy tales and classical poetry have been around for hundreds of years and are told and retold by one generation to the next. We need to realize that pop culture, on the other hand, has a limited shelf life. When you are using cultural reference, you need to keep the following points in mind: fairy tales and most folk tales will appeal to the audience’s “inner child.” These elicit emotions on the subjects of home, youth and parental nurturing. Classical poetry and literature reach your audiences that are more mature or better educated than younger listeners. Popular music and television shows get through to younger audiences on a wide scale – perhaps even internationally – but only for a limited time.

Quote Leaders

In your next speech you can also quote societal and political leaders to make quick, strong connections with your audience. Some leaders were widely influential in their day but were soon forgotten when their power wanes, while others have an enduring impact. By referencing leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Confucius, Mother Teresa, Winston Churchill, Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, you can reach broad audiences around the world. There is a significant difference between citing a source and making a reference to them. When a speaker cites a poem, book or other source, what he is really saying is “I’ve read this person’s works, but you haven’t.” While it is valuable as a form of instruction, it can create a sense of difference between the speaker and their audience. When you make a reference, you need to do it unobtrusively. If you integrate it properly, then it will feel like an integral part of the material and will support it. If your reference can’t be worked in smoothly, consider drawing upon more widely recognized material or save this reference for another presentation.

When speaking to an audience from a different culture, you need to ¬first familiarize yourself with that culture. What is your audience’s average age and educational level? Do you know their primary religious background? Learn which political leaders, societal thinkers, authors, singers and other cultural -figures have influenced your audience, and take the time to study those people. Through the use of appropriate references in your speeches, you will be able to create a greater connection with your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

The ultimate goal of any speaker is to find ways to make a connection with their audience. This is never an easy thing to accomplish. However, it turns out that if we take the time to understand our audience then we can create cultural references that we can place in our speech. If we do this successfully, then we can quickly connect to our audience using just a few words.

When you are making a cultural reference in your next speech, you are not going to have the time to be able to explain complete cultural ideas to your audience. What this means is that you will need to do your research and create references that will require a minimum of explanation. To make things easier for you, you can use quotes from famous people to connect to your audience. You don’t want to cite works, you want to reference them.

Using cultural references in your next speech is a great way to achieve one of a speaker’s most important goals: connecting with your audience. Cultural references allow you to connect with your audience using just a few key words. Take the time, do your research, and then slide in a few cultural references that will allow your audience to feel closer to you during your next speech.

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

Question For You: Are there any cultural references that we should NOT use in our speeches?

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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

As speakers, we need to understand that when we are giving a speech, what we really want to do is to connect with our audience. A good way to make this happen is to realize that it’s not just going to be the words that come out of our mouths that allow us to connect with them, but also what we choose to do with our bodies. Our audience is going to be watching our speech and so we need to use our bodies to more fully engage them in the speech that we are giving. How can we make this happen?