Back in the days when the land was ruled by tribes and hunters, there were no Dale Carnegie courses offered for improving one’s public-speaking strategies.
There were no Toastmasters clubs. There were chiefs, and they inspired, motivated, led and presented to their tribes.
Dale Carnegie methods help leaders do the same in modern-day settings and many people believe they are the preeminent brand of public speaking training. Yet what if we were to consider an age-old approach, proven over the years, as another viable option? In a similar way, could you adopt wisdom from the way in which the coach of a team motivates and presents to his or her players and apply it to your employees, group, delegation or attendees of a break-out session?
They tell stories
The parable method of teaching has long been proven effective. It is why so many classical proverbs are used to make a point easy to remember. It is why Make Difficult People Disappear is written as a fable. It is likely also the reason behind Aesop’s Fables’ popularity at bedtime.
Stories convey a message, and while the steps may be lost, the message remains, and it is retold time and time again. What stories are you sharing with your audience to get across what they need to hear or what you’re trying to say? Large and small audiences alike love “story time,” and telling stories help you connect with your listeners.
Are you giving a talk on resilience because there are a number of changes in the industry? Try the story of cows and buffalo and how they handle adversity differently. On the plains out West, during a storm, the cows run away from it, leaving them to run in the rain longer as they can’t outrun it. The buffalo run into it, leaving them to endure storm conditions for less time as they run in the opposite direction in which the storm is coming.
Tell that story and the audience won’t notice if you’re moving your hands, standing on stage, or wearing the right outfit, but they’ll remember you were the one who inspired them to be resilient, or at least run in the other direction.
They speak emotionally
When presenting to others, the common belief is you think faster when you’re on stage. Whether that’s true or not is hard to verify, but what is highly plausible is that if your brain is filled with notes, bullet points, and you have a case of the nerves, there’s not a lot of room left for emotion.
Talking faster than usual, with a robotic or rigid presentation, is not how the coach inspires the team. Instead, speak from the heart and try to deliver your key points. But what you often find in courses on public speaking is exactly the reverse: remember your points and try to present them with feeling. Not as effective.
If you are addressing fellow doctors who are mad at a piece of legislation that requires a change in procedures, responsibilities, or the type of insurance the state carries, telling them that their anger is futile will not be as effective as talking about how their anger feels.
The Native Americans have a story credited to a legendary grandparent. His grandson asked him what was wrong and the grandfather said he was struggling with some emotions. He described it as having two wolves fighting in his head. One was anger and one was fear. The grandson asked which wolf would win. The grandfather said, “Whichever one I feed.”
Speak with your audience. Hear their issues (which matter far more than your slides). Be willing to go off script to meet your audience where they need your information most and above all speak with genuine interest and emotion. Your emotions in speaking give your audience permission to recognize their own and build greater interest in what you have to share.
They pause frequently
Maybe the coach is getting old, and like each of us forgets what he was thinking mid-sentence. Or maybe he paused for effect and captured the attention of his team.
It’s hard to explain, but when speaking, saying less is often far more effective than you would imagine. Pause. Make your point and then stop talking, stop fidgeting, stop moving, stop shuffling papers on the lectern, and make eye contact with your audience.
If you’ve spoken with emotion, this won’t be an uncomfortable moment, but rather one in which your focus will be on the audience having enough time to let your message sink in and affect their thinking. Pause right up until the moment that they begin to wonder if there’s more where that came from or if you’ve lost your voice, and then continue.
Those we consider wise usually uses fewer words to convey more knowledge. Use the same ratio and your audience will be grateful.
No matter your background originally, when it comes to your practice, you are the coach. You are the leader they need to tell stories because they increase learning when you’re presenting. You are the one who must capture their attention, so they retain what you’re saying. You are the one they want to be proud of when you speak to all of their colleagues at the next chiropractic conference.
You are the one they want to lead the next presentation in a way that makes them say “That is the reason I came to work today.”
Monica Wofford, CSP, is a leadership advisor who speaks and coaches professionally and owns a training firm. As CEO of Contagious Companies Inc., she works with chiropractic practices, health care, retail, hospitality, and government industry leaders to develop their leadership skills. For more information on training, coaching or consulting, call 866-382-0121 or visit contagiouscompanies.com.