Commander Spock of the Starship Enterprise must establish a mind link with the alien form lying before him. Carefully placing his finger on the temple of its bulbous head, Spock forces his consciousness to meld with that of the intruder. With a dizzying burst of insight, the mind link is complete. Spock’s consciousness is one with that of the creature!
Science fiction? Absolutely. However, Spock is demonstrating a technique that every master communicator must learn—how to build a “mind link” between the speaker and the audience. Until a mental link is established, ideas cannot flow from your mind to the minds of the audience.
How can you develop your own version of Commander’s Spock’s mind link? Here is the secret formula:
There are many ways to gain entry into the minds of your listeners; but, here are a few tried and true techniques that work every time:
Prepare an Introduction: Your “License To Operate.” You can’t drive a car or fly an airplane without a license—why should you consume 45 minutes of a person’s time without having a valid license to operate? One way to put a foot in the door of your listeners’ minds is to assure them that you know what you are talking about—that you “have a license to operate!”
This is where a well-written introduction is mandatory. It is here that you can give all of your qualifications without appearing to be overly impressed with yourself. Join the professional speaker by writing well-crafted introductions for each and every speech you give. Also make sure that the person who introduces you reads your introduction exactly as you prepared it. Be sure the introduction tells the audience what you are going to talk about, why you are qualified, and why this topic is important to you.
Begin Your Speech With a “Grabber.” What’s a grabber? It’s that first scene Hollywood directors put in all their films to grab your attention. Grabbers can take many forms. One excellent grabber is to begin with a story or anecdote that sets the theme of your presentation and captures the attention of the audience. The grabber in this article was a simulated scene from an early Star Trek episode. A grabber can be any number of things: a set of startling statistics, a controversial statement, a visual aid, or even a hat that puts the speaker in character. One of the most enjoyable aspects of public speaking is devising an original grabber that opens the door for the rest of your message. Once the door is open, how do you keep it open?
Include a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Joel Weldon reminds us that there is a little receiver in each of our minds that is constantly asking…”What’s in it for me? When it hears something that may be of interest, the door to our mind swings open—a mind link is established. As public speakers we must always remember to utilize the power of WIIFM to open our listeners’ minds.
But wait! This can’t be done unless we determine the several interests of our listeners. When we give a speech to a group of familiar faces it’s easy to know what audience interests are; however, when we speak to a group we’ve never met we have some research to do—we must discover their biases, their interests and their expectancies. A mind link is only possible when we have done this homework.
Have A “Sparkle” In Your Eye. How do you define a sparkle in your eye? It’s that hint of excitement and enthusiasm you see in speaker’s eyes when they can’t wait to share their ideas with an audience. Aren’t you more interested in listening to someone who is radiating excitement as compared to a speaker doing his or her best imitation of a dead fish? Sometimes a “sparkle” can disappear due to a bit of public speaking anxiety. But, if you allow your excitement to show by concentrating on your enthusiasm and your desire to share your message… your “Sparkle” will reappear! So, let your sparkle show! As you sit on the dais before you speak, let it show, (the audience is looking you over). As you approach the lectern, let it show. As you give your presentation, let it show.
You have their attention! You’ve tweaked their interest! For a moment they are not mulling over all the things they have to do before the days comes to a close. Now comes the hard part—keeping them interested.
Let’s assume you have a well crafted presentation with an opening, a body and a conclusion. Let’s also assume you have done your homework and you plan to use some good stories, a little audience interaction, maybe some handouts or visual aids. What else do you need to maintain your mind link with the audience?
1. Eye Contact. There are few things more personal or more powerful than eye contact. Remember that there are at least two kinds of eye contact. One is afleeting, relatively short meeting of the eyes, while a second is a lingering eye contact that permits two pairs of eyes to lock on for a second or two or three. Both are a critical part of establishing an effective mind link. The fleeting form is important because it includes a large number of individuals. The lingering eye contact, however, is a special breed of cat. It is so powerful and so intimate that it can only be used with close friends or when you are behind a lectern.
How do you create a sense of intimacy with eye contact when you are speaking to a large audience? One way is to imagine that the audience is divided into three or more segments. Pick out a person in the middle of each segment and beam your eye contact to that person. Although you are only looking at one person, those individuals within your line-of-sight will feel as if you are talking directly to them. This works well for both fleeting and lingering eye contact. Take special note that the use of lingering eye contact is a powerful, subtle, and crucial part of the mind-link technique.
2. Stories and Anecdotes. Well-told stories or anecdotes are among the best ways to establish and maintain a mental link with an audience! Analyze our best public speakers you will find that they are master story tellers.
Stories are powerful for a number of reasons. For one thing, listeners have been conditioned to enjoy stories throughout their life. Stories also allow the speaker to become the characters in the story without seeming artificial or overly dramatic. Stories are usually rich in verbal imagery. When they are well told they force the speaker to describe the brilliant colors, interesting sounds, pungent odors, and silky textures that the story encompasses. This mental imagery is usually better remembered than words! Prop open the mental door of your listener’s mind with an arresting series of stories rich in mental imagery.
3. Similes and Metaphors. Similes, metaphors and extended analogies are among the most effective ways to put your mind in synchrony with that of the audience. Their power comes from their ability to invoke the past experiences of the audience in a way that enhances the acceptance and understanding of your ideas. Consider the simile: the night was as dark as black velvet. The simple combination of night and velvet not only invokes a feeling of pitch black darkness but it also carries the elegance and softness of black velvet.
Similes and metaphors offer a shorthand method of expressing a number of complex feelings and meanings that would be difficult to express in any other way. Similes, metaphors, and their close cousin allegories can be very colorful as well as entertaining. They get inside the minds of listeners by recreating experiences that are a part of their everyday lives. Learn to use these members of the analogy family and you will join the ranks of the world’s best speakers and writers.
4. The Dramatic Pause. One reason we often overlook the dramatic pause is because it is so subtle. Its subtlety, however, enhances its power. It can be used as a large verbal exclamation point without even raising your voice. The dramatic pause (two to three seconds) also contributes to the overall rhythm and pace of your presentation. When a dramatic pause is used it allows the listener’s mind to catch up with the speaker. This intensifies the mental link between the speaker and the listener. It also offers an opportunity for a little listener self-talk. Listeners can say to themselves, “This is probably an important point—I need to remember this.” Don’t underestimate the ability of a dramatic pause to retain the interest of an audience.
5. Audience Feedback. It is well established that we need feedback if we are to perform at our highest level. For this reason we must become highly skilled in the task of receiving feedback from the audience. This means we must not only learn to establish eye contact with the audience but we must become sensitive to what they are telling us through their facial expressions and body language. Do they appear alert? When do they smile? When do they frown? Experienced speakers remain inside a listener’s mind through careful observation, using the listeners’ body language to strengthen their mind link.
Open The Doors. The next time you give a speech, visualize each member of the audience with a door in the middle of his or her forehead. Notice that most of the doors may be closed when you begin your speech. Pry open as many doors as possible!
Begin unlocking doors even before you are introduced by letting everyone see the sparkle in your eye. A sparkle that is ignited by your impatient ideas and your desire to share them with the audience.
Prepare an introduction that not only introduces your topic but also states why you are qualified to speak—your license to operate.
As you begin your presentation, quickly grab the attention of the audience and tell them what’s in it for them. Finally, as their doors are cautiously opened, prepare to install your door jams to keep them open.
Keep The Doors Open. Visualize yourself projecting your ideas into the minds of your audience like a laser from the starship Enterprise.
Begin with one of your most effective techniques—eye contact. Make everyone feel that you are talking just to them. Vary the lengths of your gazes. Use frequentlingering gazes to penetrate the minds of selected individuals. During that second or two, focus all of your attention specifically on them.
As you move along enrich your presentation with stories that entertain and stories that are rich with mental imagery.
Use analogies and similes that tap the everyday experiences of your listeners.
Make the members of your audience feel important!
At just the right time, stop—take advantage of a dramatic pause to allow your listeners to ponder what you have just said.
As all this takes place as you carefully watch the body language of your listeners. Keep the mind link in place. Feed on the energy of the audience as you experience the exciting, unique reward of being one with your audience! MAKE IT SO! ‹