There’s a common mistake that many speakers make. Of course they want to influence the audience in some way, since that’s the purpose of public speaking, but they miss a critical element of influence.
They write their talk, practice their lines, and deliver their speech all for the purpose of telling the audience what they should do. If you look around, businesses do the same thing. “Here’s what you should do.”
But when you think about it, more often than not, people know what they should do. Right?
I’ve spoken for years and I can tell you with 100% certainty that if you want people to change their lives, what doesn’t work is just telling them what they should do.
“You should stop spending so much money! Stop it! Stop using those credit cards!”
“You need to eat healthier! Stop eating fast food! You should exercise more!”
“You should do this! And don’t do that!”
That never works. Why? Because like the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
If you want to influence others through speaking or your business, you have to connect with your audience on a problem.
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If you don’t connect with them on a problem, they don’t care about your solution, whether that’s your steps to becoming debt-free or the products and services your business provides.
If you want to influence, start with a problem.
When you connect with your customers on a problem, it does several things:
1. It demonstrates empathy and shows that you get them. You understand where they are in life, what’s going on, and what their struggles are.
2. It communicates that you care where they’re coming from. You aren’t just trying to sell them on a product or idea. You care about what they need.
3. It makes them care about your solution. If you only rapid-fire solutions at them when they don’t even realize they have a problem, they don’t care about your solution. You have to have a problem first in order to solve it.
My talk on life balance starts out by connecting with my audience on how frustrating it is to always feel like you’re running behind. Life may seem like you can’t keep up and nothing you do is ever enough.
For my talk on money, I start with how frustrated I was after college. I would run out of money before payday every single month, and it was embarrassing to call my mom for money in my mid-twenties. I talk about how defeated I felt after working so hard with nothing to show for it.
“You’ve been there, haven’t you? I have.” I often say these words with empathy, because it’s true—I have been there.
When you connect with people on a major problem (that you’re going to solve for them), they actually care about your solution, steps or services.
Whether you’re an aspiring speaker or you run a small business, connect with your customers on a pain point first. Then—and only then—are they ready and able to hear your solution.