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‹ View all articles21st May 2013

How to bore your audience (or not)

Delivering a Talk

We've all sat through a lifeless presentation, where the speaker barely engages his or herself, let alone the whole audience. But how do you balance the kind of information you choose for a piece of public speaking to fascinate the maximum number of people? Here's exactly how to NOT bore your audience!

Your audience has two types of information needs. One that appeals to the emotional side and the other the more factual, rational side. For our purposes we'll use the terms left brain and right brain, as neuroscientists have deduced that this is indeed the way the brain works. Even though no one is completely left or right brained, we all use both sides, there are verbal tools we can use to stimulate each side of our audiences gray matter.

A good speech appeals to both sides of the brain.

All facts and no play makes Jack (or you) a dull boy. Endless facts with no human connection are a sure fire way to bore an audience.

But, all play and no facts make you a flash... in the pan. People might be excited to hear you but not remember anything of substance that you may have said. The best way to do this is to create a perfect mixture of exciting facts by using different techniques. Here are two ways you can stimulate both sides of the fabulous brains of your audience to avoid boring them:

1. A good quote can trigger both sides of the brain by using witty and inspiring words from a verifiable and trusted source. Someone giving a speech on wealth management could say something like this...

“As Oscar Wilde said... Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. Today I'm going to challenge you on what your means... means to you. And believe it or not we're going to use your imagination to get us there.”

This quote uses inspiration and humor for the right brain and legitimacy (left brain) because you used a quote from a humorous famous writer.

Quotes from Einstein (“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination".) or Mark Twain (“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”) are also a way to introduce legitimacy and humor into your speaking; both left and right brain messages. Make a collection of quotes that fit with your speech. Even if you don't utilize them they could be useful if you're asked questions.

2. Famous examples can strum both sides of the brain. An inspirational speech might start with a bang and a bit of a shock.  This might entail something that's recently been in the news or some example with which your audience will relate that is new to them. Inspiration (wow he did that! Right brain) and evidence for the left brain (all logic all the time). Make sure it's something your audience will remember.

"When life gets tough, we have a choice. There was a man who was in prison... for a very long time. When Randy Kearse was released after serving 13 1/2 years in prison for hustling crack cocaine, he decided to change his perspective. Kearse self-published a handful of self-help books and started selling the book to passengers on the subway and it's proven surprisingly successful. Today he has sold 14,000 copies of the nonfiction, which chronicles his life journey of overcoming adversity and learning from mistakes. If someone can come from a seemingly hopeless situation to a positive conclusion... what do you think YOU could do?"

 Giving evidence with flair, utilizing engaging words with rich contextual meaning, will make sure that the lights are flashing on both sides of the neuromap; triggering memories of your message and you for a long time to come. Right and left brain together equals a whole lotta learning going on.


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