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Are You A MESSI Of Public Speaking?

June 24, 2014 fm

At the age of 27, Lionel Messi is already one of the greatest soccer players of all times. When he’s on the pitch he causes more emotions than Love Story. In the world of football, he will always be remembered. At the age of 27, Lionel Messi is already immortal.

Now – do you accomplish the same with your communication? Do you appeal to the emotions of your audience? Do people remember what you communicate?

If the answer is no, don’t worry, you too can become a Messi – a MESSI of public speaking!

In our communication both in business and private life we tend to provide rational and general information:

  • We’ll achieve a win-win-situation.
  • Our advisory services add value to your business.
  • We are result-driven lawyers.
  • Our products meet the highest quality standards.
  • We have new neighbors.
  • I went to the supermarket to buy some stuff.
  • It’s a great app.

When we use this rational and general approach we do communicate, but… do we connect?

How can we connect with our audience? We connect with our audience when they can relate to what we say. We connect with our audience when they can identify themselves with us. We connect with our audience when we appeal to their emotions.

Think about the most memorable events of your life? Let’s say the top three. Were you emotionally involved? I’m not Hannibal Lecter, but I know the answer.

So – how can you make your communication more relatable, more identifiable, and more emotional?

The answer is… MESSI – metaphors, examples, similes, stories and imagination.

M – Metaphor

An image says more than a thousand words, but one word can trigger many images.

You could say, Use more vocal variety!

Or, you say,

Your voice is a lion; let it roar!
Your voice is the wind; let it whisper!
Your voice is a snail; let it creep!
Your voice is a storm; let it race! 

Images trigger emotions; emotions are more memorable than rational and general phrases.

E – Example

Some say the example is the salt of the rhetoric soup. For me, it’s the soup.

You could say, It motivates me when my colleagues help me without me asking them.

Or, you say it the way seminar participant Fared said it in a charisma training…

You know, sometimes it’s the little things that motivate me the most. In my office there’s a plant pot next to my desk. I put a little red water gauge that shows the water level. Last Monday I came to the office and saw that Heiko, my colleague, had watered my plant. That motivated me.

For more than two years now, I cannot get this little red water gauge out of my head. Symbolic, unique and visual examples are much more relatable hence memorable than generic talk.

S – Simile

The metaphor replaces one thing with another; this makes it comparable. Similes compare one thing with another by adding a like or an as.

You could say, I hate flying with Rynair.

Or, you say, Flying with Ryanair is like getting completely drunk; the next day you always say it was the last time.

Other examples:

  • Our company is like Mother Teresa – we care for humans.
  • Leonidas and his 300 fought like lions.
  • His face turned as dark as the night.

Like metaphors, similes trigger our imagination. Again, an image says more than a thousand words, but one word can trigger many images. Images make your point more tangible, more emotional, more memorable.

S – Story

I love the storytelling workshops of storytelling expert Peter Zinn. In his opening Peter usually asks one important question.

When there was no iPhone, no iPad, no phone at all, no TV, not even radio, nothing – who was the star sitting next to the flickering flames of the camp fire? The storyteller.

People love to hear stories. Stories with a plot, with characters, with a theme, with dialogs, with music, with décor, with spectacle. Yet, we do everything we can to replace emotion-triggering stories with win-win-situations, synergies and critical masses – dead and soulless placeholders.

You could say, We had to stop producing product A. We couldn’t reach the critical mass of production.

Or, you say,

Three years ago, I was sitting in a street café in Munich, in the shadow of tall chestnut trees. My head of marketing, Mr. Miller, frowned at me when I shared my strategy with him that I had in mind for product A. He said, ‘Do you really believe we will be able to drive sales numbers to a level where we can reach break-even?’ I should’ve listened to him. Today we all face the consequences.

Your personal stories make your communication more relatable, more identifiable, more emotional.

I – Imagination

And why do you want to share all these metaphors, examples, similes and stories?

Communication expert Tobias Rodrigues invented the Pathos Formula. According to him, one of the three key triggers of emotions is imagination.

With whispering winds, little red water gauges, Mother Teresas and tall chestnut trees you trigger the imagination in the heads of your audience. Just like Lionel Messi does it so well on the pitch.

Next time you see Lionel Messi play think of your next speech or presentation.

Become a MESSI of public speaking!

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