Great storytellers can take a simple set of facts and create a multi-media experience in the minds of their audience with carefully crafted stories.
There are many emotions you can share with your audience simply by crafting your story around the right words. Happiness, anger, sadness, nostalgia are just a few. Knowing your purpose for speaking to a group helps you to craft emotional experiences that are fully congruent with your message. When you have a crystal clear purpose, choosing the right words and emotional platform to empower your message is simpler.
Here's an example of a set of facts that a speaker might convey:
“There have been eleven fatal accidents over holiday weekends in the past four years on the sharp curves of the Brookton highway, between Cursed Hole and Sleepy Hollow. Installation of guard rails, warning signs, and a flashing light will cost approximately $134,000. Even though we have not balanced the budget this year, I feel that we should appropriate money for this project.”
Here is a different version that reflects seeks to focus on the real emotional consequences of the message.
“On Easter Monday of this year Peter Smith and his family were found dead in their rolled-over car at the hairpin bend at mile peg 74. The radio of the car was still playing, tuned to our local station, when the ambulance arrived. Peter’s neck was broken. His wife Judith was crushed, and Jollie and Anne their three year old twins were dead too. No one here knows the Smith family because they're not from these parts, but they died in our locality. Most of you do, however, know of the hazardous twists and turns of the Brookton Highway, the scene of so many tragedies like that of the Smith family. We need money to put up guardrails, signs, and other safety features. I know money is tight, but can we not see fit to find the funds to remedy this situation before one of your family or neighbours suffers the same tragedy and Peter and Judith Smith and their daughters Jollie and Anne.”
Can you see the difference in these two appeals? The first was simply a set of facts. Facts are important, but they rarely stimulate people to action. The action comes when emotions get attached to valid facts. You can wager that the second version of the above story would havea better chance of securing the appropriate funding.
To create an emotional appeal in the second version of the story, words and phrases were chosen that had emotional power..... The Smith family were found dead. The car radio was still playing on the local station ... Peter’s neck was broken. Judith was crushed... hairpin bend ... They died in our locality - All of these phrases were woven into the original set of facts to create a congruous emotional platform designed to remedy the dangerous state of the Highway.
Win the heart of your listeners and their minds will follow.
The most effective presenters create a “relationship” with their audience where they share space for a time. A powerful way in which to initiate a relationship, not matter how fleeting, is to find the right emotional platform and weave a story around the facts you wish to present.
You create a relationahip with your audience when you infuse what you do with something of emotional and personal value to your audience.
The questions you should ask in respect to the delivery of your content are:
- How is what I’m doing reaching out and touching my audience?
- How will it improve my audience’s life?
- What can my listener do with what I’m proposing?
- How does what I’m doing dovetail into my listeners’ needs?
- How can I show my listeners what emotional benefits they will accrue, or the emotional distress they will avoid, if they accept my message?
Your emotional commitment to your listener should be greater than your commitment to what you think is important. Your best promotion is you: if you’re real, emotional, and credible when you find the real story that resides within a cluster of facts, people will vest trust in you. Rarely will your listener choose to embrace you and your message for purely logical reasons. Your listener may think, but remember s/he then feels, and its the feelings that ensue from the presentation of facts that drive action. Facts alone cannot do that.