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Your Situation Is Not Their Situation

May 28, 2016 fm

graduation

A classical stumbling block for public speakers is the so called curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge occurs when you speak to your audience based on your level of knowledge. We often forget that an audience doesn’t necessarily have the same knowledge base. This is especially critical when you talk about technical, scientific, philosophical or other complex topics. But also acronyms, quote originators, rare movies – always be aware that you have to get them all onto the same page.

Something similar happens in storytelling. Since we know about a specific situation we talk about, we forget to describe that situation. But – your situation is not their situation.

Imagine you say, I remember the day I graduated from high school. That day was the beginning of a new life.

You recall that day. You recall the weather, the people, the atmosphere, the feelings. But your audience doesn’t know about all these things. It’s your job as a speaker to take your audience by their hands and bring them into your situation.

I remember the day I graduated from high school. It was a sunny and humid day in early summer. A couple of hundreds of smiling parents gathered on our gray school patio. The sound of anticipation mingled with the smell of an epic BBQ. That day was the beginning of a new life.

A simple and powerful technique is to let your mind enter the re-living room, as Craig Valentine, a US-American professional speaker, refers to it. Re-live your situation. It’s still in your head. Re-live the weather, the people, the atmosphere, the feelings. Use your five senses to describe the situation. Make it a sensorial situation! Speak to their body – their smell, their sight, their hearing, their taste, and their touch. For them it’ll be, as if they are there with you.

As always in public speaking: less is more. Avoid describing every last little detail. Focus on key aspects of the situation.

When you invite your audience into your situation, they can relate to it much better. When they relate to it better, you create a better connection with your audience.

Avoid another curse of knowledge. Describe situations, because your situation is not their situation.

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