Presentation styles change over the years and the each year brings with it new renditions of what constitutes “great” when it comes to public speaking.
For 2017, think “Year of the Emotional Connection.”
Audiences are increasing less impressed by your presentation technology now that most people have mastered the basics, and much more impressed with your authenticity.
Bring them a message they can care about and they are yours.
Bore them with pie charts, statistics and speculation and they will tune you out and start texting their more interesting friends long before you come to your speech conclusion.
Here are five ways to connect emotionally with your audience and win the speaking stakes this year.
# 1. Tell the best stories
The key to solidifying an emotional connection is to tell great stories that touch people’s hearts and minds and stay with them to the point that they repeat them to others.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg analyzed TED talks a few years ago to determine why they seemed so much more interesting than other public lectures. She determined that they are 65 percent stories and only 25 percent data.
The other 10 percent focused on a compact explanation of who you are and what you’ve done that makes you interesting and credible to speak on your subject.
The stories that are told aren’t the ones that come from public speaking treasuries either. The stories that have the most impact come from your personal life and the unique experiences you have had.
Bolstered by what she discovered, she brought her own amazing story about the death of her beloved husband and what happened in her life afterwards when she delivered the 2016 UC Berkeley Commencement address. See the emotional connection she made as you view the speech:
# 2. Use the best props
In the digital age, great props has been consistently translated as great graphics or videos, but sometimes bringing the unusual prop on stage can shock your audience to attention and create a close emotional connection between them and your message.
One of the best examples of that was in a speech when Bill Gates, whose amazing work at Microsoft helped him amass billions and become one of the world’s foremost philanthropists, was trying to draw attention to the spread of malaria.
Keep in mind that Gates was already a well-known proponent of energy innovation and advocate for increased government spending on developing cleaner technologies. In fact, he had already invested $1 billion of his own money into start-up firms working on planet-friendly technology projects.
So his audience members were likely expecting more of the same when he took to the stage to talk about the spread of malaria and the steps that need to be taken to prevent it.
From the stage, he elicited a huge emotional shock from his audience when, to illustrate his point that mosquitoes spread malaria, he released a jar of mosquitoes into the audience.
You can see it in this video:
Remember that fear and shock and even the element of surprise can trigger an emotional shock that translates to the release of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine, a brain hormone, has the added benefit of ensuring the experience stays in our memories for a long time.
Gates delivered that address back in 2009, and people still talk about it today.
# 3. Talk about emotional issues that impact everyone
It may seem obvious, but surely the best way to elicit emotional responses from your audience is to talk about emotional issues, those humanity topics that impact us all.
As a species, human beings are all different and yet quite similar in what they dread, love and laugh about.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins had that down to a science when he gave his “New Year, New You 2017 Motivation.”
When you are a New Year’s resolution maker or not, Robbins’ ability to touch on the common goals and milestones we all experience in life makes a solid emotional connection with his audience.
# 4. Understand who you are and portray yourself in an authentic manner
Each speaker brings a unique life and a unique set of experiences to the public speaking platform. If you want to emotionally connect with your audience, let that individuality shine through.
Talk about your world in terms that invites a connection from your audience. Give examples that relate to what you have seen and done and your authenticity will shine and audiences will appreciate that what they see is what they are getting.
A great example of using authenticity to create emotional connections occurred when filmmaker Steve Spielberg delivered Harvard University’s Commencement address in 2016.
You can see it here:
Remember that your stories don’t have to be breath-taking. See how Spielberg uses gentle humor and insight into his life and experiences as a filmmaker to draw in his audience.
# 5 Choose interaction with your audience as a connection technique
Michael Port, best-selling author of Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show, builds an emotional connection with his audience by interacting them to the extent that they become part of his presentation. In some cases he gets them to repeat his key messages back to him. This is a tremendously effective way to not only connect with people, but to ensure that they will remember the message.
You can watch Port at work in this video:
His acting background is clear with the pace of his delivery, his expressions and his ability to engage his audience.