Want to know one of the secrets of really effective public speakers? You know the style of presentation I’m talking about; one that challenges people to take an action or refocuses their assumptions. A speech that really persuades.
If you want to be one of those speakers who make an emotional connection, who gets people hanging on your every word, and energized to take the action you suggest, then I have the formula for you today in this post.
Here it is: tell stories that your audience can relate to. And here’s the category of story that anyone hearing your voice will be able to connect with: stories of your struggles and how you ultimately overcame them. People love first person stories, and the more personal you allow yourself to be the more they will love them!
I know how counterintuitive this sounds. If someone comes to hear you speak, they’re expecting an expert—the guru who can help them over the next mountain in their own lives.
Sure, they want some of that too. But your audience will relate for more intimately with you when they learn you are just as far from perfect as they believe themselves to be. More important, they will be far more likely to do what you ask them to when they feel that kinship that can only come from sharing your struggles.
Here’s how to start.
Take a fresh sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. On the left side, write down a time of severe struggle in your life. Try to recall how you felt—the raw emotions you experienced during this time. Write them down. Don’t worry about complete sentences or exactly the right words; just put your guts down on the paper.
Now, on the right side, reflect on how that time of struggle changed your life and contributed to the person you are today. What did you learn? How did you apply the lessons? What universal truths are there in your experience?
Now you have powerful stories to tell.
As you share them with your audience, take your time. Allow them to be drawn in to your experience, and in the process feel some of their own past. The more personal you are, the more they will relate to you.
Dan Kennedy, the copywriter and business consultant, went through a difficult time early in his career that resulted in a bankruptcy. He shares how whenever he mentions this fact he’ll have numerous responses from people in the audience who went through this same trauma and want to tell him their stories.
You’ll have the same experience—people will relate to what you’ve shared and rush to thank you for being so open as well as tell you their stories.
The world is waiting to hear the stories of your life. You have a unique experience that can touch other people in ways you can’t imagine. Don’t keep them to yourself. Share!