Whenever we speak, we want to get a specific message across. We want our listeners to envision what we say to get a clear understanding of what we mean. If you want to present, persuade, and propel with spoken word faces a few pitfalls.
Unclear thinking can confuse your listeners and the message maybe misconstrued. If we can’t describe what we are talking about in just one sentence, you may be trying to mask too many topics. Your listeners will definitely be confused and their attention will wander. The best way to go is to start with a one-sentence objective. If you have no clear structure, you will most likely cause confusion. Make it easy for people to follow what you are saying. They’ll remember it better, and you will too as you deliver your information and ideas. If you never get to the point, your listeners will tune out. Start with a strong opening related to your premise; state your premise; and list the rationales or “Points of Wisdom: that support your premise, supporting each with examples: stories, statistics, metaphors, and case histories. Review what you’ve covered, take questions if appropriate, and then use a strong close.
People need to remember your stories, most people rarely remember your exact words they remember the mental images that your words inspire. Support your key points with vivid, relevant stories. Help your listeners “make the movie” in their heads by using memorable characters, engaging situations, dialogue, suspense, drama, and humor. In fact, if you can open with a highly visual image, dramatic or amusing (but not a joke!), that supports your premise, you’ve got them hooked. Then tie your closing back to your opening scene. They’ll never forget it. Another point is, you have to have emotional connection. The most powerful communication combines both intellectual and emotional connections. Intellectual means appealing to educated self-interest with data and reasoned arguments. Emotional comes from engaging the listeners’ imaginations, involving them in you illustrative stories by frequently using the word “you” and by answering their unspoken question, “what’s in this for me?” Use what I call a “high I/You ratio.” For example: Not, “I’m going to talk to you about telecommunications,” but “You’re going to learn the latest trends in telecommunications.” Not, “I want to tell you about Bobby Lewis,” but “Come with me to Oklahoma City. Let me introduce you to my friend, proud father Bobby Lewis.” You’ve pulled the listener into the story.
The wrong level of abstraction can be a pitfall. Are you providing the big picture and generalities, a sort of pep talk, when your listeners are hungry for details, facts, and specific how-tos? Or are you drowning them in data when they need to position themselves with an overview and find out why they should care? Get on the same wavelength with your listeners. Give them the proper words to digest. There should be no pauses when communicating. Good music and good communication both contain changes of pace, pauses, and full rests. This is when listeners think about what has just been said. If you rush on at full speed to crowd in as much information as possible, chances are you’ve left your listeners back at the station. It’s okay to talk quickly, but pause whenever you say something profound or proactive or you ask a rhetorical question. This gives the audience a chance to think about what you’ve said and to internalize it.
In conclusion, there are some things we must avoid when we speak because it may not convey a clear message to our audience. Be a storyteller with vivid images to match your words.
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