Sunday, March 9, 2014

Creating a Meaningful Experience

What both speakers and audience members crave is a meaningful experience. One that changes us, inspires us. If I can create a meaningful experience for my audience I know they will have loved my presentation. That is my goal, and achieving it is one of the things that makes my life meaningful.

But how do we do that? Practically speaking there are countless possibilities. But there are a few basic principles that can be helpful to identify the opportunities for meaningful moments.

Get Personal
Put some of yourself into your speech. To an audience you are a strange and exotic creature, with the courage to stand up and speak. We want to know about you, who you are and if we can relate to you. Sharing some of yourself is demonstrating trust in the audience, and they will subconsciously reciprocate. That trust is the foundation of a meaningful experience.

Tell Stories
Along those same lines, tell stories. People respond to stories in an emotional and physiological manner. They excite our imagination and our brains. Stories stick with us in a way that facts and figures do not. Most importantly they hold your audience's attention and will be remembered.

Empathize with your Audience's Concerns
Your audience is the reason you speak. What do they need that you can help them with? One of those things is finding their work meaningful, both in the respect you treat it with and the satisfaction they should draw from doing it. On another level, presumably you are there to give them something they need. Clearly identify and address those needs,

Offer Strong Visual Support
This is the opposite of death by PowerPoint. A photographic image can be a powerful thing. It can anger or amuse, educate or inspire. Carefully selected visual support can leave a lasting memory in the audience's mind, and being memorable is essential to being meaningful.

Highlight Values or an Ethical Dimension
All people have values. They are relatively stable long-term beliefs about what is important in life. Tying your message to things that people value is a key to creating a meaningful experience. Furthermore people like to be reminded that they are "doing the right thing", and to be recognized for doing the right thing, not necessarily doing things the easy way. Appeal to their strong moral compass.

Inspire Toward Self-Improvement
We all want and need to be inspired, to do better and to be better people. It is the nature of all living things to grow and progress over time. Appeal to our ideals, appeal to the best within us. You will see the lights go on in their eyes because you are creating a meaningful experience.

These are just capsules of the kind of analysis a good speechwriter conducts. They can be taken in countless directions to suit the needs of most any speaker and any audience if looked at in the right way. But employ them and you will transform your communication and create a meaningful experience for both yourself and your audience.

That's all for today folks. Be well, speak well, and as always, thanks for reading! Those interested in Dan Leyes' consulting work should visit Semiosphere Consulting.