by Doug Stevenson
As a speaking coach, I work with speakers of all levels on their stories and speeches. I coach them on content and delivery – what I call the mechanics and the dynamics of speaking. The end goal is for my students to become more persuasive and effective speakers. My challenge has been to help them make the shift from talking at people to having a meaningful conversation. It’s the difference between persuasion and motivation vs. command and control. Persuasion is an invitation, not a command.
Speakers today, especially leaders, look out at a sea of faces that scarcely resembles the audience demographic of a decade ago. Baby boomers are starting to retire, replaced by a diverse working population made up of ethnic, generational and religious differences. In addition, people today are more demanding than ever. They live and work at satellite speed. Their time is their most precious resource and they refuse to accept boring PowerPoint presentations. They demand relevance, stimulation and honesty.
This new situation requires speakers and leaders to change their communication style. Rather than overwhelming audiences with more facts, data and bullet points, they need to slow down and connect. This requires a shift from what to why. I call this new communication style Emotional Eloquence. Think of it as a marriage between Emotional Intelligence and persuasive presentation skills.
Emotional Intelligence contains five basic principles: know your emotions, manage your emotions, motivate yourself, recognize emotions in others and handle relationships effectively.
Emotional Eloquence is an approach to speaking and leading that acknowledges that people have more than enough information or have the resources to get it. What they need is to be motivated and inspired to use that information to get results. Far too many speakers only convey information. They deliver content like a pizza delivery person delivers pizza, and because that is all they do, they become predictable and boring. They fail to connect content to emotion, thereby failing to motivate people to action.
Motivation comes from the Latin word motivus, which means to move. Think of a time when you were inspired by someone or something, and you felt moved to take action, to donate to a worthy cause or to volunteer your time. Did you do it because it would make you famous, make you rich or make you more popular? Probably not. You did it because you believed in the cause. You were moved to action by your higher aspirations and moral code. You felt the need to act as much as you thought it was a good idea.
Emotional Eloquence focuses on moving people. The Eight Core Elements of Emotional Eloquence teach speakers how to move people, not with PowerPoint slides and bullet points, but with emotional congruence and old-fashioned honesty and compassion. It’s about learning how to be a motivational speaker in the purest sense of the term. It’s about persuasion rather than command and control.
These are the Eight Core Elements of Emotional Eloquence:
- The first element is: Emotion is the Fast Lane to the Brain. If you want your content to stick, you must frame it in a way that stimulates an emotional response in the listener. It must resonate with their wants, needs and desires, as well as their practical need to do their job.
- The second element is: Speak with Passion, Conviction and Skill. You must believe in your content and express that belief with passion and conviction, or no one else will care. Speaking with passion and conviction assumes that you know what you are talking about and feel that it is vitally important. You also need to learn and develop the skills to speak eloquently in front of a group. This requires practice, and often the assistance of a speaking coach.
- The third element is: Appeal to People’s Higher Aspirations and Moral Convictions. Let’s go back to why people give of their time and resources. People volunteer when a cause appeals to their higher aspirations and moral convictions. They work tirelessly and completely because the task brings meaning to their life. When you appeal not only to their logic, but also to their desire to contribute to a worthy endeavor, people will dedicate themselves to the task.
- The fourth element is: Speak from Your Head with Your Heart Wide Open. This element is both the simplest and hardest to accomplish when speaking in a business setting. It means that you infuse your every word and thought with compassion and love. Quite simply, you must care about your people and let them know. You must be emotionally available and honest. You must back up your content not only with data, but also with compassion. Zig Ziglar says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
- The fifth element is: Use Metaphors and Stories to Frame Your Content. In our complex and diverse world, two forms of communication are common to everyone: metaphor and story. They succeed because they activate the listener’s imagination, thereby integrating the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This leads to whole brain learning and increased retention. In addition, stories evoke an emotional response and as we know, emotion is the fast lane to the brain. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, says, “Facts are free. Stories are valuable.”
- The sixth element is: Choose, Write and Create Every Aspect of Your Speech or Presentation. A speech should be personal, not generic. Leaders often relinquish their role as motivators and wisdom-sharers in favor of standing behind lecterns and reading speeches that others have written for them. In doing this, they surrender their power.
- The seventh element is: Use PowerPoint Sparingly and Take Center Stage. The best leaders and motivational speakers don’t overuse PowerPoint. They take center stage, move freely around the stage and speak from memory. They focus on connection over content, and fully engage their audience. Emotionally eloquent speakers think, feel and embody their message and use PowerPoint sparingly, if at all.
- The eighth element is: Close Your Speech with a Message of Hope. In a chaotic and dangerous world, people need to be reassured that there is reason for hope. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel, the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down, the belief that things are working out for the best. When all is said and done, the most important words you can speak are words of encouragement. Leave your audience on an emotional high and they will follow you forward to success.
Doug Stevenson, president of Story Theater International, is the creator of The Story Theater Method and the author of the book, Never Be Boring Again.
His 10 CD – How to Write and Deliver a Dynamite Speech audio learning system, is a workshop in a box. It contains an 80-page follow along workbook. Learn more at: Dynamite Speech Home Study Course
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