Nov: Familiar Truthiness

truthinessWell, would you look at that? I just read about another speaker who says an audience has to “process” a presentation, not just passively listen. It was in the July, 2014 Toastmasters Magazine, Add Story to Your Slides. I suggest you read it again, with a highlighter.

But let’s go a step further and learn something new from the “pros” in public speaking. Ok, the pros in persuasion. We typically see them as the pros in manipulation – the politicians. We just had an election and this was where they really had to crank it up. It’s something called “truthiness.” Truthiness – a word coined by Steven Colbert, political comedian. It is a way we ascribe truth to things by way of feelings, not logic. It comes from the gut, not books. But it’s the way they influence how we feel that’s the interesting and surprising part.

The more familiar something is, the more “truth” we give it – it “feels” comfortable. When the audience encounters something that feels easy and fluent, they often conclude that it is familiar, likable and true. What does that mean to you as a Speaker? Speak in familiar terms.

I hope you’ve heard me remind speakers that writing is different from speaking. Writing can be packed with information: the reader can slow down, stop, or even re-read. Not in speaking. Speaking has to be simpler. And now it has to be familiar.

If you have new information (which you should), try to connect it with the familiar, something we already know. You can even connect a familiar picture in your presentation to sway your audience. And the funny thing, the picture doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same category !!!

Patricia Fripp, high-level speaking coach, says the speaker has to answer the questions in the mind of the audience. When you say something, they come up with a question – your words, phrases and sentences stir up questions. I say they have to process what you just said. And you don’t get to just casually think of the obvious questions. To figure out what the audience is thinking takes intentional and careful thought. Which is exactly what it takes to be a persuasive, motivational, action-causing speaker.


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