As speakers we understand the importance of public speaking and so we want the time and energy that we put into creating and delivering a speech to be worth something. There are a lot of different ways to measure just exactly how effective a speech that we give is, but it’s ultimately our ability to reach out and connect with our audience that will determine our impact. Let’s take a look and see what steps we can take to make this happen.
It’s All About You
That we want to have an impact on our audience is almost a given. How to make this happen is a completely separate question. As a speaker we need to take a moment and allow ourselves to take on the role of a person who is sitting in our audience. They are living busy lives, they have a smartphone that always wants to be telling them something new, and once your speech is done they have another 5 places that they have to hurry up and get to.
This means that you have quite the task ahead of you. The words that come out of your mouth are going to have to sound like they were created for each individual member of your audience. They are going to have to feel as though you are talking to them, and them alone. In order to make this happen, you are going to have to start telling your audience some stories.
Stories are what your audience is going to remember long after you are done speaking. This is why they are so powerful. A lot of speakers that I know struggle when it comes time for them to create stories to be included in their speech. They spend a lot of time trying to do research in order to find just the perfect story for their speech. This is where they are making a mistake. The best stories to include in a speech are personal stories.
Why Do Our Stories Have So Much Impact?
In all honesty, I’m just a bit uncomfortable when it comes to incorporating my personal stories into my speeches. Why this bothers me is not quite clear, but I guess I sorta see it as working some fiction into my speech even though the things that I’m talking about really did happen to me. Perhaps it’s just that I don’t think that people may believe me when I tell them about something that happened to me.
However, I have included personal stories in speeches that I have given and I cannot argue with the results. When you use a personal story in a speech, you add a great deal of emotional appeal to your speech that can really connect with your audience. A great example of this is when we are giving a speech that has a lot of facts and stats in it. In all honesty, anyone could give that speech. However, if you take the time and work a layer of a human story throughout your speech, you’ll be able to reach through all of the numbers and connect with your audience.
What makes our personal stories so very powerful? Good question. I believe that you might have all of the facts and stats that you need by presenting that information is going to have very little staying power – your audience won’t remember it. If you really want to connect with your audience then tell them a story about how your facts and stats impact them personally and emotionally. By doing this you’ll cause your audience to take action and that’s when you know that your speech has made an impact.
What All Of This Means For You
Speakers who want to make an impact with their speech know that what they are going to have to do to capture the benefits of public speaking is to find a way to emotionally connect with their audience. One of the best ways to go about doing this is to start to incorporate personal stories into your speeches.
We need to understand that our audiences are filled with busy people who have other things to be thinking about. If we want to be able to connect with them, we are going to have to be able to tell them stories that seem like we are talking to them directly. The best kind of stories for us to tell are personal stories because these are the ones that will connect the best with our audience. When we give speeches that contain a lot of facts and stats, adding a personal story will allow us to connect with our audience despite all of the numbers.
I don’t believe that it is easy to add personal stories to a speech. You are revealing just a bit of your private side to your audience and a lot of us are not comfortable doing this. However, if you can find a way to do this then you’ll have uncovered a great way to make an emotional connection to your audience. Get good at doing this and your speeches will become powerful communication tools.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: How many personal stories do you think that you should work into a single speech?
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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
One of my favorite experts in the world of making presentations is lady named Nancy Duarte. She runs a company called Duarte Inc which specializes in helping presenters get their message across using great visuals and she really understands the importance of public speaking. The company’s biggest claim to fame so far is that they created the slides that Al Gore used during his famous “An Inconvenient Truth” speeches. Nancy knows how to grab and hold an audience’s attention and she’s not shy about telling us how to do it.