Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Create an Experience Everyone Enjoys


In this eighth chapter of his book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell explores the third out of fifth practices for connecting with others, by creating an experience everyone enjoys.

You need to get the audience interested by being interesting, and you do this by not just sharing information, but by sharing an experience which will have the audience engaged on many levels.   There are 7 ways to achieve this; I am splitting the post into two, with today’s post discussing the first 3 out of 7 ways and tomorrow’s post covering the last 4.

1.  Take Responsibility for Your Listeners

Many teachers feel that they are going to present the information in the way  they want to or feel comfortable doing, and it is simply up to the student to “get” what the teacher is saying.   Skilled teachers take responsibility for the student learning, so that if a particular student doesn’t “get” what the teacher is saying, the teacher will automatically try another way to get through to that student.

In a similar way, a skilled speaker must take responsibility for the audience getting what you are trying to convey, and that requires the speaker to create interest in the listeners, to active them to enjoy the experience, and to be consciously aware of adding value to their lives for having listened to your presentation.

If you are writing something that others want to read, ask yourself “what would make me want to read about this?”

If you talking to others, ask yourself “what would make me get involved and take notice?”

2.  Communicate in Their World

You can’t assume that everybody has the same interest in the subject you are about to present.   You need to explain why it is relevant to them, wherever they may be.   You link what you want to say with what you perceive to be your audience’s needs.   That’s why you should avoid using abstract terms and use language that is evocative and personal to the audience.    This is why Abraham Lincoln was an inveterate storyteller, because he could express a complex idea in less time and with more effect by using stories, often with a humorous twist, rather than academic prose.  His opponents in the race for the Republican nomination for the presidency were all learned men, and their speeches used phrases like “Trojan horse” to describe the institution of slavery.    That phrase would be understood by educated people but wouldn’t mean a damned thing to an uneducated farmer.  Abraham would say slavery was like a “snake that made its way into the baby’s crib, and you needed to try to get rid of the harmful snake without harming the baby at the same time,” the baby, of course, being the American Republic.  He communicate in the world of everyday people, yet his rhetoric was capable of soaring far above it if he needed to use words that inspired and lead the people to his vision of the future.

3.  Capture People’s Attention From the Start

According to Myrna Marofsky, a management consultant, said about people that “if you don’t catch their interest, they just click you off” like a remote control.   You need to make a good first impression and start off well when you communicate.

Here are some suggestions for doing so:

  • Start with a Comment About the Situation or Setting–say something based on what everyone has just experienced, whether it’s inclement weather, a recent sports upset, or a piece of information in the news.  That puts you on the same page as your listeners.
  • Introduce Yourself–Say your first name, even if the presenter has introduced you.   It will make feel people like they are on a first-name basis with you.
  • Relax–Find a pose and gestures which show that you relaxed but attentive to the audience.
  • Begin with Humor–By telling a humorous story, anecdote, joke or even a quote, you get the audience to relax and be more receptive to what you are saying next.
  • Create a Sense of Anticipation–Let the audience know that they are going to learn something, or be given something of a value which they can use to improve their lives.   It will increase the sense of anticipation, and will make sure they don’t drift off.

These three ways are excellent ways of going being merely presenting information, which is prose, and getting people to share in the experience, which is what poetry is about.    You are there to give words in such a way that will resonate within your audience so that they echo in the hearts and minds of your audience long after they have left the theater, gone home, and continued on their daily lives.

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