Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting with Individuals, Small Groups and Large Audiences

In the book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell has five chapters devoted to principles of connecting, and five chapters devoted to practices of connecting.   I have spent five weeks on the first five chapters covering those principles, and today I start on the second part of the book, with the practices. The first practice of connecting is in the sixth chapter, and it is “Connectors Connect on Common Ground”.

In the final section of his chapter on finding common ground, John Maxwell gives some pointers on connecting with various size groups, from a single individual, to a small group, to a large audience.

1.  Connecting with an Individual.

Ask questions with an eye towards common interests and experiences.    When you find that common ground, then share your emotions, tell stories, and offer lessons you’ve learned.

If you really want to gain insight in a hurry into someone’s heart, ask the following question:

  • What do you dream about?
  • What do you sing about?
  • What do you cry about?

2.  Connecting in a Group

Although you can’t focus on a single person, you can focus on a single purpose or goal for which the group was assembled.   Ask “What brought us together?”

If you are having a planning meeting for a project, then ask the two key questions, “What are we trying to accomplish?” and “Why?” This will bring both the execution of the project and its strategic goal into focus, both the business need for the project (from the standpoint of the ultimate user of the product, service, or result that the project is going to create) and the strategic goal (the benefit to the organization creating the project).

If your group achieves a goal, then celebrate that win together!

3.  Connecting with an Audience

People come to hear someone speak because they want to learn something that will help them or inspire them in their everyday lives.    There are some in the audience who are eager to hear what you have to say; there are others who may be more hostile, and need to be convinced to hear what you have to say.    You have to make it worth their while.   Tap into this desire on the part of the audience to benefit from your speech by using the following pattern of four F’s:

  • FEEL:  Try to sense what they feel and acknowledge and validate their feelings.
  • FELT:  Share with them that you have also felt the same way.
  • FOUND:  Share with them what you found that has helped you.
  • FIND:   Offer to help them find help for their lives.

You create a sense of reciprocity with the audience this way.   It reminds me of the way the Indian musical instrument called a sitar makes music.    There is one set of strings that are flat and never played; there is one fret of strings that are curved over the other set and are always played.    Why this arrangement?    When the second set of strings is played, they set up a sympathetic vibration with the first set of strings, which is why the instrument has this sing-song, echoing quality to it.

You are pluck your own strings with your speech so that it sets up a “sympathetic vibration” with the people in the audience.    And together, these two sets of vibrations will make a wonderful piece of music!

The next chapter, chapter 7, will be covered in next week’s posts.   Chapter 7 is about Connecting by Keeping It Simple.


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