July 16, 2015 fm

The Most Connecting Letter

He didn’t say, You have a dream. He didn’t say, One has a dream. He said… Well, you know what he said.

In all those thousands of speeches I’ve heard and evaluated as a corporate trainer, every time someone speaks in the impersonal form of you or one, it hardly connects with me.

You grow up; you make mistakes.

One grows up; one makes mistakes.

Contrariwise, every time someone uses first-person narrative, it totally connects with me.

I grew up; I made mistakes.

For me, the most connecting letter is the letter I.

The reason is you, the speaker. When you speak in public, when you stand up in front of a seated crowd, psychologically, you’re automatically the leader. You’re the role model. We, the audience, can experience the world through you, through your words, your logic, your emotions, your senses.

Logic (logos), emotion (pathos) and the five senses – here are seven first-person perspectives:

We [the audience] understand the world through your brain.

  • I learned that humor is pattern. Take self-deprecation! When I speak with my rural twang from Franconia, the rest of Germany always laughs.
  • There’s no such thing as a pause that’s too long. I once forgot my text and bridged the blackout with a smiling 9-second pause. I won that speech competition; they thought it was a dramatic pause.
  • My door opener to great conversations is my first sentence. I never say it in a normal way. One of my favorite lines is, ‘I wouldn’t talk to me.’

We feel the world through your heart.

  • I regret that I never called or visited my friend Frank when he needed me the most.
  • I‘ll never forget that moment when my brother Martin sent me a text message with the first lines of Mozart’s Requiem. He couldn’t tell me on the phone that our daddy had passed away.
  • And then she kissed me for the first time. An eternal moment under the full moon reigning over lake Balaton. 

We see the world through your eyes.

  • I still see the beauty of the dawn – the lake, the mountain, the blue sky.
  • I couldn’t resist staring at those angry people.
  • Finally, I saw what Barcelona is all about – Gaudí, Gaudí, Gaudí.

We taste the world through your mouth.

  • The first time I tasted real Paella, I knew what Spain tasted like.
  • This project tastes good.
  • My favorite taste in life is Oktoberfest beer.

We touch the world through your fingers.

  • I touched the Great White and it felt like scraped wallpaper.
  • When I touched our last remains of love, I knew it was over.
  • I grabbed that rusty nail.

We hear the world through your ears.

  • This morning I listened to the Rolling Stones.
  • She screamed so loud that I almost fainted.
  • I cannot stand the sound of nagging voices.

We smell the world through your nose.

  • I entered the room and it smelled like work.
  • I cannot describe that smell; it was the scent of innocence.
  • Having hiked in the Provence, I’ll always remember that smell of Lavender.  

As a speaker you have the power to make them understand, feel, see, taste, touch, hear and smell. Through your brain, your heart, your eyes, your mouth, your fingers, your ears and your nose.

Stop saying you and one. Use more first-person narrative and you’ll make the great MLK Jr. proud who said the immortal words… Well, you know them.

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