What is it about those words that makes you feel special? I’m not sure what it is, but I received an invite from a friend to her ‘Big Birthday Bash’ and it started with the words ‘You are cordially invited….’. First, I thought – ‘wtf – that’s a bit posh Brenda’ (she is not really called Brenda – just protecting the innocent!), but actually – I was quite excited and felt a little bit special.
And actually, that made me think of how I teach people to become amazing public speakers. The principle is the same. What principle? – you might be thinking. Well, here’s the thing. When you want to connect with someone whether in person, in writing or from stage you need to do one very important thing. You need to speak to them. Yes I know that sounds obvious, but I mean it. Let me explain.
The key thing you need to do is speak to ONE person. When you speak from stage – what you want is for each person in the audience to think you are speaking directly to them. Even among a crowd of thousands. And how do you do that? There are 3 main ways.
Firstly – use “you.” If you were talking to one of your mates, you would use the singular. You would say things like – ‘don’t you hate it when it rains and you haven’t got an umbrella?’. You wouldn’t say – ‘Ladies and gentlemen – who here hates it when it rains and you don’t have an umbrella’. Do you see the difference – you connect more when you speak to one person – because everyone in the room has to mentally answer that question for themselves, because it has been asked TO them, not to ‘the room’.
And you know what also really gets up my nose? When speakers say stuff like ‘Puts your hands up’ instead of ‘raise your hand’. The first is talking to ‘the room’ and the second is talking to YOU. Guess what – the room doesn’t give a frig!
Secondly – eye contact. What you see a lot of rookie speakers doing, is what we call – spraying the room. They evenly, and often rapidly – dole out their eye contract to every single person in the room from left to right and then back again. Like one of those grass sprinklers you see in American TV shows, or maybe in Cheshire! This makes no-one feel special, believe me. When you are speaking, you need to make a connection by saying a whole sentence or part of a long sentence to one person.
It may feel uncomfortable to YOU the speaker to hold eye contact for 5 or 7 seconds with one person. But trust me, it will not feel uncomfortable to them. They will feel special (she is talking just to ME). Again, think of when you are out for a coffee with a mate. If you were looking round the room the whole time with only the briefest of eye contact made with your friend, they wouldn’t feel like you were listening to them or even interested in them. Do you see what I mean?
Thirdly – know your audience. Before you speak you need to know who you are speaking to. For example, if your brother is a mad Manchester United fan – you wouldn’t be talking to him about the great hire Liverpool just made (unless you wanted to wind him up), as the info would fall on deaf ears or start an argument. In the same way – you need to know your audience. The more you can know about what your audience feels – what their pain points are, what keeps them awake at night, what their hopes and dreams are – then the more they will feel you are speaking just to them.
The amount of times I have come off stage and someone has come up to me and said – “I really resonated with your story of….”, or “when you said X – that is EXACTLY what I do/did/found/experienced.”
When you implement the 3 strategies above properly (and of course, there is a bit more to it than I have just mentioned), your audience will think you are speaking just to them, and they will have the same warm and glowy feeling I got when I read that invitation from ‘Brenda’. They will feel special.
And in that spirit – Marion and I would like to cordially invite YOU, yes YOU – to our 1st year Anniversary Party. Yes – Find Your Why, and the Live Love Laugh Lounge and Man Cave, are 1 year old, and as such we would love it if YOU can join us on Saturday 22nd July at Tankersley Manor, Sheffield. 5pm for pre-dinner drinks. The ticket price includes a 3-course dinner, and the chance to win FABULOUS prizes including a grand prize of a ticket for our Whys Woman UK Retreat – click here to listen to Kerry talk about the retreat.
Click here to book. We look forward to seeing you there!