Connect Them

Making Speaking Magical: part 9

When you connect with them, they know you care.

This final trick to make speaking magical is all about what you’re audience feels about you.

Do they know you? Do they trust you? Do you have a reputation with them? Do they expect something specific from you? Do they believe you? 

These questions are infinitely important to you as a communicator, because your communicating is ALWAYS ABOUT THE AUDIENCE (not about you). If your audience doesn’t connect with you then, as my great Aunt Jemima used to say, “You ain’t gunna do nuthin’ worthwhile!” 

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” - John Maxwell

Connecting them is all about building up your credibility with the audience. 

This trick, like Captivate Them and Teach Them, is rooted in the great work of Aristotle. He clarified the best ways for a speaker to persuade their audience of anything is to include Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic), and a strong dose of Ethos (credibility). The fascinating detail about Ethos is the shifting responsibility from the communicator to the audience. You don’t get to control this one, it is completely on the audience to determine whether the communicator is trustworthy and credible. Thankfully, there are some elements you can work into your communication with you to enhance the probability of them connecting with you. 

Chances are, if you respond well to something, it’s because you relate to the person. If you don’t respond well, it’s because you feel like you aren’t included. - Margot Leitman
  • Think of your favorite brand of car, cookies, or cleaning products.
  • Imagine having a conversation with your favorite talk-show host, or movie star, or musician.
  • Consider the pastors and staff at your church, school, or workplace.
  • Reflect on the places you do/do not want to visit in the world.

The people, places, and things you have the deepest connections with are the ones you believe you share something with - that is, you share values, experiences, or objectives with them. 

  • You buy the products that focus on using organic materials. 
  • You would love to have coffee with Ellen because of her clear message of acceptance.
  • Likewise, you can’t stay at your church, school, or job because it feels like the people ‘just don’t get you’. 
  • You are more or less likely to move to another city, or country based on the leadership there. 

ethos is incredibly powerful in shaping our lifestyles 

What are you doing as a communicator to connect with your audience, making them believe you understand them?

Here are 3 tips to help you connect with your audience and let them know you care:

Share Values

These are the things we all align with: family, love, honesty, safety, and many more. When you begin talking about these the audience knows you understand them and their needs. 

TV commercials are the masters at this, getting you to believe the company shares the same values as you do within 30 seconds. If you think that Ford shares the same values as you do, you are far more likely to buy their box-like Flex just because it'll make your kids think you're cool. 

You can connect with an audience over shared values by using photos (clean house, adventurous people, laughing, eating, exercising, etc), or quickly by using strategic statements.

For instance, “my close friendships are incredibly important to me, that’s why…” or, “it is a top priority for me to run, write, and have an espresso before anyone else in the house is awake, but one day…” In these two examples you have the audience believing that you think the same way they do about people and that you value exercise, creating, and good coffee. It would be tough to find one person left in the audience that doesn’t connect with you after all that. 

Share Experiences

When your audience can say, “you’re kidding, you too?” you’ve connected on a significant level.

This happens when you show places you’ve been, talk about important moments from your life, and stories about family, jobs, or school - the things we all experience.

If you only tell one story when you fought a jaguar with your bare hands while zip lining through the jungles of Borneo, your audience will find it very difficult to connect with you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn't tell that incredible story, but throughout the story you need to bring in some experiences we all share: the fear of heights, punching someone (or something) for the first time, multi-tasking, listening to instructions, or learning you don’t like pets.

While telling your bigger story, stick some smaller, more relatable experiences in there that your audience can connect with. 

Share Objectives

A value is something your believe in, an objective is something you’re working toward.

If your audience believes you want exactly what they want from your communication they will connect with you. If they believe you are interested in something different, you have a lot of work to do to get them to embrace your ideas.

Imagine getting on stage at the end of a conference, if you say, “I’m as worn out as you are, it’s been a great day, but my brain is fried. So, I’m going to speak for less than 20 minutes, and at the end of this time you will have one idea to take with you that wraps up all you’ve learned today in a package.” As soon as they hear that, they will buy in. They want something of value but they now believe you understand their exhausted condition. If you can deliver on your promise they will never forget you and how much you cared about them.

You may have noticed, I've been trying to connect with you all the way through this blog series. Instead of just telling you what to do I have been very intentionally letting you know that I understand your struggle.

I've been saying that I believe we want the same thing - to transform our audiences. I've been sharing experiences I've been through on stage, or significant cultural moments we've experienced. And I've made it very clear that I want to make these tricks as simple as possible so you can pick them up and become a better communicator. 

I can always do better, but now you know what I've been up to all along. And it's all for you!