Today’s audiences are a jaded bunch. In fact, a Gallup Poll shows that just 16% of us have a favorable opinion of business executives. With all of the Wall Street failures and auto maker bailouts that are currently going on, this number will probably keep going down. What’s a presenter to do in order to cut through the fog of cynicism that we are all existing in?
One way that presenters are doing this is by sharing their own stories of adversity. These stories seem to be able to reach out to audiences and somehow make the presenter much more “real” than just another glib business success story.
If this is what your audience wants, what can you do to meet their needs? We all may not have survived a wild bear attack, but we may be able to find other types of material in our lives that will allow us to connect with our audiences:
- Audiences Love Adversity: The bigger the challenge that you faced, the more they love it. Erik Weihenmayer is a mountain climber who is blind. He over came lots of adversity and ended up climbing Mt. Everest. His story shows his audience how to overcome adversity in their lives.
- Tales Of Survival Match Today’s Business Environment: Today’s business environment is harsh and unforgiving and surviving is what most of your audience is trying do every day. Trisha Meili
was assaulted and left for dead in New York’s Central Park. She now speaks to audiences about what she had to go through in order to recover.
- Find The Metaphor: What your audience is really looking for is hope. They will be interested in your story no matter what you tell them, but it will have a real impact if they can understand that what you went through is similar to what they are currently going through. The fact that you survived (and hopefully thrived) is what is going to give them the courage to keep on trying.
- Tie Your Story Into Business: A great story will keep your audience on the edge of their seats – but what happens when you stop talking? John Amatt survived a mountain climb 20 years ago that killed three of his climbing teammates. The only way that he survived that disaster and made it to the top of the mountain was to make radical changes to his climbing route and tactics. This story is very well received by business people who are facing major changes in their business environments.
- Use Humor Where Appropriate: These topics can be pretty heavy – life and death struggles are rarely something that anyone wants to joke about. That being said, if your entire presentation is dark and scary, then your audience will just be happy when it’s all over. Instead, use humor at the start and at the end in order to start and end on a lighter note. You audience will appreciate it and this will allow your message to sink in further.
We have not all faced life threatening situations. However, what your audience is really looking for is a good story that they can relate to. If you look back over your life, I’m sure that you can find points in which you were faced with a challenging situation that looked impossible at the time. Then all you have to do is weave a story that will grab your audience’s attention…