I have to admit it: I am a freak! I count the number of speeches I witness in my trainings. I count them in Excel. To date, I have experienced 7,901 speeches. What gives me a good idea about the quality of each of those speeches is the fact that I don’t evaluate them myself. I moderate the rounds of speech evaluations. This means that, over the years, I have developed a strong personal but objective opinion about one fundamental question in the world of communication: What speech creates a lasting impact in an audience and which does not?
For me, it all comes down to two main ingredients:
Impact = Energy + Vulnerability
The first ingredient is energy.
The second ingredient is vulnerability.
The late Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, said: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. This quote is so overly used that it almost scratches the surface of cliché. But I ask myself; if it’s used so often why do so few people follow its inspiration.
How do you make them feel? You make them feel by connecting on an emotional level.
How do you connect on an emotional level? You show your vulnerability.
How do you show your vulnerability? You share your emotions.
You share your frustrations, your anger, your love, your passion, your disgust, your respect, your fears, your regrets, your failures, your joy, your tears of joy. Positive or negative – your emotions connect and make them feel. Once I tweeted: Sharing your dreams in public speaking is good; sharing your broken dreams is better.
In 7,901 speeches no exception. Any form of vulnerability, in any feedback round with any audience – it was always on the PLUS side.
Energy plus vulnerability – that is my biggest lesson learned in 7,901 speeches. Energy and vulnerability are, by far, the most important ingredients for creating a lasting impact in an audience.
When will you start to create more impact with your public speaking?