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How To Build The Personal Connection And Resonate with Large Audiences

I delivered a keynote at a banking industry association event a few weeks ago. In the follow up, I’ve had a chance to talk with many of the attendees. They were all so excited to speak with me and honored I would take time to speak to them. Some of them were even giddy. This is funny to me, of course, having worked with real celebrities, but it is also the “celebrity effect” that anyone can get and is becoming increasingly important in the ultra-competitive environment we all inhabit.

Now, bankers tend to be a conservative bunch and a community not known for being effusive or unduly emotional. So when one of the attendees person in particular said this to me, I was really moved: “You said something that resonated with me. I felt like you were talking just to me.”

It was the best thing I could have heard and is the reason I get up in the morning to do what I do. So what did I do to enable us to develop that connection?

It’s ALL technique. I opened with a bang. I shared some personal stuff. I talked with some of them in advance. I used self-directed humor. I told stories. I made sure they would learn something in the process. I practiced. Here they are one-by-one:

Open With A Bang: It was in Baltimore, just after the unrest. I have a special connection with Baltimore, so I used it in my opening telling them they were the reason Baltimore would heal. I also called out the Orioles (baseball team), even though I’m not a sports fan, and used it to lead into an exercise.

Share Personal Stuff: My topic was speaking on stage and Charisma. I told them it wasn’t inborn, but learned, and used myself as an example of a shy introvert who, nonetheless, has to get out there and practice.

Talk With Them In Advance: I always recommend getting there early and/or go to the welcome reception. Ask questions, learn some names and call them out from the stage. Powerful.

Use Self-Directed Humor: I poked fun at myself. Life is funny. I love sharing that I was a terrible student and that I had low SAT scores. For me, the more I say it, the less I feel pained by it (I felt dumb for a long time, which shamed me). For them, they have permission to admit to something they’re ashamed of, which makes them better leaders.

Tell Stories: You have them – they happen almost every day. Keep track of them and stop struggling at the last minute to find good material. Client examples, colleagues, experiences, when you failed, how you turned things around, who you asked for help…

Practice: A lot. There is no way to avoid this — if you want to be good and connect with people like the best speakers do. I practiced out loud for a month and I’ve done this talk hundreds of times. Every audience is different, however. Bonus: It’s the antidote to stage fright.

By the way, all this is covered in great detail in SPEAKRETS®. But I wanted you to have a little something now because I know you will benefit greatly.

12 thoughts on “How To Build The Personal Connection And Resonate with Large Audiences”

  1. Thanks for sharing this information Ruth! So much of what we do is instinctive and it is nice to see it broken down into steps. I love to share humorous stories (mostly about myself and my family) but am sometimes concerned that it is too much. Is there a way to know if you are going over the top?

  2. Great advice for speakers, especially the need to practice. The more you perform, the better you become. You can’t simply read about best speaking techniques.

  3. Good advice to be sure. As someone who gets uncomfortable speaking in front of groups, I will certainly utilize your suggestions

  4. Wow, Ruth! Wow! I’ve been following you for a couple of years not. Socking away tidbits of gold from your emails and videos that I could use in re-branding myself. So, when I read you had a new website, I had to check it out. And, you didn’t disappoint. I thought there was a disconnect before, but now I SEE you. It’s stunning and elegant, just like the brilliant tips you always graciously share with your ‘students.’ It’s YOU. I have always appreciated that you share usable, substantive information in your videos and blogs, not just fluffy top-ten lists. Valuable information that can be used today, whether someone is launching a speaking career, trying to brand themself on YouTube, or just striving for confidence giving a presentation to their high school classmates. Yes, your goal is to sell your books and training programs (and we will!), but it’s obvious you have a greater mission to share forward the expertise you have developed through your trials and triumphs so we can join you at the elite level you have attained. I’ll be visiting even more regularly.
    p.s. I adored reading the “things you don’t know about me.” I think you need to spend a little time in San Francisco. We have great theater, interesting politics, and I know some high school thespians at CalShakes who would love a Teaching Master to provide a session to learn how to perform off the stage. Ok, I want a live session to attend here, too!

    1. Wonderful, Susan. Thanks so much for this rich post. And I’m glad you think the branding is consistent with who I really am. Great feedback.

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