How To Connect To Your Audience – Public Speaking Dreams

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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How To Connect To Your Audience - Public Speaking Dreams - Audience connection


The Number One Secret To Standing Ovations and Getting Booked Over and Over

If you’re a motivational speaker, you know that your success depends on your ability to connect with your audience. And the number one secret to connecting with your audience is NOT the content.

It’s not the marketing. And it’s not who you know.

It’s the STORY.

Your ability to connect with your audience is totally dependent on whether your audience connects to your message – your STORY.


How To Connect To Your Audience - Public Speaking Dreams - Personal Connection

The two stories you should be telling

As speakers we tend to focus solely on our story. But there are two stories you should be telling – yours, and THEIRS.

While your story is important, it’s not enough. I see many speakers telling their stories and never once include the audience. As speakers we are there for THEM.

We are there to teach them, encourage them, inspire them, empower them. And if you can find a way to make your speech about them, even when it’s about you, you hit the target.


How To Connect To Your Audience - Public Speaking Dreams -Stories you should be telling to reach your audience


But if we don’t know them, how do we tell their story?

While we don’t know their exact situation, there are certain situations that are universal to everybody.

And so when you tell your story about your experience in that area (not where you succeeded, but where you failed or experienced pain) then you start to tell theirs.

While you are telling your story, they are traveling into their own life and experiencing their story. It’s quite powerful.


How To Connect To Your Audience - Public Speaking Dreams - Powerful connections with an audience


Finding Stories America Loves

The key to finding stories that relate to your audience, is to think about experiences that we all have in common, or experiences that you already know will elicit an emotion.  (Think of the posts you see on Facebook and what kinds of posts get a stronger reaction/comment thread.)

I put together a list of the types of stories that America loves.

I say America, because it’s part of our culture.

If you’re speaking outside the US, then you have to look at their culture and their frame of reference. By the way….this also works when you’re writing humor. Write humor based on the odd things we all experience together.


How To Connect To Your Audience - Public Speaking Dreams - America loves a good story, be sure to tell one

Stories America Loves

  • Stories of humble beginnings
  • Rags to riches stories
  • Stories of overcoming great odds
  • Stories about animals
  • Stories about children
  • Stories about children with disabilities
  • Stories about a cause they are concerned with
  • Stories about relationships
  • Stories about first love
  • Stories about other firsts – first car, first job, first date
  • Stories about their culture
  • Stories about their people
  • Stories about their group/industry/members
  • Stories about their history
  • Stories about marriage
  • Stories about parenting
  • Stories about history
  • Stories about famous people / celebrities
  • Stories about people who impacted your life personally
  • Stories about times that you really messed up
  • Stories that point out your weaknesses and foibles
  • Stories about your childhood
  • Stories about your culture
  • Stories when you had a tough decision to make
  • Stories when things didn’t go your way
  • Stories of your success after great hardship
  • Funny stories
  • Suspenseful stories
  • Stories about your failures and what they taught you

I’m sure there are more stories that  I’m not thinking of. But this list should give you an endless amount of stories.

Good luck!


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