I’m excited to have Susan Trivers for the second time as a guest blogger. Susan is a well-respected Toastmaster and a gifted speaking coach. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments below! Susan- thank you for your contributions. For all of my Toastmasters friends, Susan was referenced in the most March 2013 Toastmasters Magazine article, “When Bad Speeches Happen to Good People.” Congratulations on all of your success, and thanks again!
How to Hold Your Audience in Rapt Attention
By Susan Trivers www.greatspeakingcoach.com
There is magic in those moments when everyone in the audience is paying full attention to you. You don’t need to be a sleight-of-hand magician to make this happen. You only need to tell a great story.
A powerful example of how a great story is like magic was reported in the news about Bill Clinton speaking at Howard University’s 2013 graduation. Clinton described his visit to Indonesia and a tour through the camps sheltering many tens of thousands of those left homeless by the tsunami in 2004.
Clinton praised the handsomeness of a 10 year old boy. The interpreter told Clinton that yes, the boy was handsome and that until the tsunami, he had had 9 siblings. All of them were lost in the tsunami. As the reporter wrote “The crowd fell silent.”
It’s what Clinton said next that makes this an example of speaking magic. He said to the graduates “This man who had lost nine of his ten children led me through that camp with a smile on his face and never talked about anything but what those other people needed and what he wanted me to do.”
“No matter what happens to you, it is highly unlikely that you will ever face anything as awful as what happened to that mother and father.”
No facts and statistics, no policy rants, no logic. A compelling story related in simple meaningful words with obvious emotion in his voice. Those graduates will remember their graduation day for a long time. I’m sure that from time to time, when faced with the difficulties of life that everyone faces, they will remember this story.
How well do you create magic with your stories and hold your audience in rapt attention?
Susan G. Trivers
East Avenue, McLean, VA 22101