Emotions are the element that makes a speech memorable
Memorable speech: a speech you have heard and keep remembering for ages. What remains is not the whole speech: it is a key phrase, a concept but mostly the emotions that the speech stirred on you.
Memories are always bound with emotions. The most memorable events of your life are events filled with deep feelings: the wedding day, the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one, graduation at university. We remember things because they were exceptional, unique events that appealed to something inside ourselves.
The same truth applies to speeches; if we are incapable of transmitting emotions the most elaborated speech will soon melt away in the minds of our listeners.
If we do not feel the emotions in your own speech, how can we expect to transmit them to an audience?
We should be passionate about our words: a touching episode of your life, a topic that deeply affects you (climate changes, social injustice).
If we tell something about ourselves, listeners should put themselves at our place, plunge with their imaginations in the situation, think what would their feelings, their actions be.
If we talk about a topic important to you, we do not have to persuade the audience of rightness of our position; we should awaken their curiosity, their interest, let them realize that is relevant, important for them as well; they should recognize our speech as a source of information, a trigger for their thoughts, a way to form their an opinion.
Listen to your audience
In conferences audience is not supposed to interrupt speakers during their presentation; room for question is opened only after. However, this does not mean that speakers, during their talk, should not listen to the audience. Either they can decide to interact directly with the audience by directly asking questions, by polling by hand-raise. The critical thing is to thoroughly observe all non-verbal signals from the audience and if necessary react to them.. These signals are key indicators of reactions, the mood of the audience: boredom, interest, fascination.
Recently I was watching a live session of a cantonal parliament in Switzerland. Most of the speakers stood behind the podium reading their speech; they posed a double barrier between them and the audience: the podium and their script. Podium is a physical barrier, the script a visual barrier: you can not look simultaneously at your sheets and at your audience.
If you plan to present slides never look back at the screen: you should already know what you are presenting!. Turning the back to your audience is a capital sin!
Routine is the enemy of emotion
If you are commuting every day to your working place do you consider these trips exciting? If your transport system is particularly bad and your experience everyday disruptions probably yes, but this is another story…
When you are traveling, for leisure or for business, to a country you have never visited before probably you are excited (at least I am…) and you will remember it.
Getting back to the parliament session I mentioned above what made matter worse is that speakers stood on the podium beacuse they had to and MP.s listened becuase they had too: the agenda demanded that the leader of each party delivered a keynote.
In this way keynotes became routine and nobody cared. Even if politeness prevents from blatantly playing with your phone or PC, listeners’ attention inevitably drifts away.
Routine kills any emotion.
Emotions can be everywhere
Some speech topics bring themselves emotions: the eulogy for a friend who just passed away, the toast for a couple that just married. Other topics seem to demand you to suppress any emotion: business meetings, business reports.
A quarterly results of your company business unit. This kind of report usually contains numbers, a lot of numbers: all the jargon that business people know too well: Operating expenses, Earning per share, ROI.
We should ask ourselves: if we simply read the number with minimal neutral explanations (we have to compensate losses from a lost order, we are starting to see revenue from customer XX), what is the added value of the presentation? Would it not be better to e-mail your colleagues a spread-sheet with figures and comments and let them read at their leisure?
These numbers are not mere digits; there is always something behind. they might reward a hard-working hours for the team, they might high-light a problem, an issue that has not been properly addressed. They might make you proud, they might make you feelé worried, insecure or they can present a challenge to you.
You should not tell what numbers are; probably your audience is as experienced as you and able to interpret them. You should tell the audience what the number means to you.
If I have to summarize in few words:
- read your speech
- think what it means to you
- think of what I might mean to the audience
- feel the audience when you deliver it!
Originally published at http://mauri63blog.wordpress.com on June 1, 2020.