January 27, 2014 fm

One Greater Than Two

Public speaking needs examples. And the more specific the example is the better.

For example: In the hotel sector I have wonderful clients. One of them is Roland, a warm-hearted, beardy Bavarian. Roland is the general manager of a four-star hotel. We’ve been working together for more than two years. The other day he called me to confirm the fourth seminar we’d do together. After rhetoric, charisma and creative communication, this time we’ll focus on leadership. 

What people would normally say is, I offer multiple training formats in the hotel sector.

I offer multiple training formats in the hotel sector. We are a leading provider of renewable energies. We have high quality standards in our company. We add value to your corporation. Our employees are highly qualified. We are likeable lawyers. We changed our marketing strategy. 

Speakers love to stay on the surface. Superficial, generic, general expressions. But – your audience cannot connect with generic terms. Your audience cannot identify with general expressions. Your audience needs specific examples of warm-hearted, beardy Bavarians.

To be more exact, your audience needs ONE specific example. What I often witness is, once speakers get into the example mode, they don’t stop enumerating them.

Ah, yes, and then there is this other client I have in the hotel sector. His name is Daniel… STOP!

One greater than two

When we write we write for the eyes. When we speak we speak for the ears. Speaking is different from writing. Shorter sentences, dialogs, tons of non-verbal communication, and… less is more!

When someone is about to drown, do you offer him three life buoys or just one?

One example is enough! Your audience uses the example of Roland, the warm-hearted, beardy Bavarian as a reference point. Your audience has understood. The moment you add more examples – like two more clients from the hotel sector – your message becomes blurred. Based on my experience, one example is sharper than two hence one greater than two.

My triple tip for you as a public speaker:

  1. Erase any generic jargon!
  2. Give specific examples!
  3. Stick with one example at a time!

Comment (1)

  1. Christina O'Shaughnessy

    I totally agree with you, Florian, that using fewer examples is more effective. Thanks!

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