Here is a dynamic truth from Michael Port, a bestselling author, former actor, and speech trainer…
“In a speech, one of the most important things that an audience needs to know is that you know the way the world looks for them,” says Michael. “And you know how it could look — and it could look a lot better. So we are trying to take them on a journey to what is better. When you meet somebody, let’s say you’re networking together, it really makes a difference if they believe you understand the way the world looks to them. And in the development of that relationship, if you are helping them see the way the world could look, well then that relationship can develop very powerfully and positively over time.”
Can you believe this? A good speech is not a “data dump.” It does not just transfer information. Effective speakers consider how they want their audience to FEEL when they are done speaking. You cannot be satisfied with merely approaching your audiences in terms of what they need to KNOW.
Here the age-old proverb, typically attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, applies…,
“The audience never cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
This is how Michael Port’s insight applies. Can the audience truly believe that you know how their world looks? Do they subconsciously trust that you genuinely care? If not, modify your message.
To build trust we must adjust. We cannot afford to tell audiences all that we think they need to know. They must feel that we understand their world, and that our message is applicable to it. Then we can gently move them from seeing their world as it is to what it could be.
So ask yourself two questions as you prepare your platform, as you refine your message, as you craft your delivery…
What does my audience currently feel about this topic?
What will they feel after hearing my message?
For example, rather than decry that “Problem X resulted in more than 3 million deaths over the past 20 years,” put a “face” on your facts. Tell us about “Ziggy” and how his/her family was specifically impacted by Problem X. Present your information in a way that your audience FEELS the injustice that hurt Ziggy and trusts that you care too. Numbers, statistics and figures never speak for themselves. Make sure that all data is directly applicable to your audience and pertinent to similar conditions in their lives.
The message we share must show that we care. This dynamic is essential – a non-negotiable in effective communication.