Written by: Geri Mazur
Welcome to First Thursday! On the first Thursday of each month, Corporate Speech Solutions features an expert who has a skill or expertise that will enhance your professional skill set. Today, we’re joined by Geri Mazur. As a marketer and brand strategist with a background in communications and advertising, Geri knows the value of connecting with your audience. Today, she’ll share key strategies for integrating passion into your public speaking to take your professional communication to the next level.
I’m a marketer. A brand strategist to be exact. And so you might be asking yourself what does a brand have to do with public speaking?
Unlike sales, which is about getting your product into the hands of your customer, marketing—and most especially branding—is about connecting with your audience. It’s what great brands do. Or rather great brands are great because they connect with their audience. In fact, great brands have relationships with their audiences that mimic human relationships. You might think of a loyal long term brand relationship as a marriage. Maybe you’re married to the make of your car or your version of Starbucks. You’ve been together a while, you know what to expect and you’d miss it if it were gone. A new lipstick or nail color that you bought at the local drugstore might be a fling. Not a long-lasting relationship but fun just the same. Maybe some of the brands you use are just old friends. The relationship isn’t that emotional, but they are awfully comforting to have around, like the orange juice you drank as a kid and still drink every morning.
Whether you are standing up in a meeting, in front of a larger audience, or just having a conversation with a colleague, the best way to get your point across is to connect with the person or persons you are speaking to. “Of course,” you say, “Isn’t that the whole idea?”
So here is where the passion comes in.
Advertisers know that the best way to connect with their audiences is through emotion. The human decision-making process always starts in the gut. We make an emotional decision first and then rationalize it in our brains. For example, if “Yes, I want that product” is the instantaneous nonverbal gut reaction, the brain then conjures up all the reasons why we should have it. The brain gives us permission to buy whatever it is that our gut wants.
Apple does a great job connecting with its audience. It’s embedded in their brand, their products and all their communications. Subtle but brilliant. But even Apple went seriously emotional two years ago with their awesome Christmas commercial. That commercial, by the way, doesn’t actually sell anything…except Apple, of course. And it does so simply by associating Apple with emotions that the audience understands. If you want to see it, you can find it here.
Related: 5 Tips to Build Executive Presence
Your job as a speaker in any situation is to connect with your audience, whether that audience is 10 or 1000. Yes, practice is critical, as is knowing your subject matter. These help you have the confidence you need for success. But the most important thing is to be able to speak with passion. That means having a subject that you care about. It means allowing your audience to see that passion. It means being authentic to who you are and what you believe in and letting those emotions show. Because that’s what will grab your audience from the beginning. It’s much easier to make your intellectual argument if you first reach your audience emotionally. So never be afraid to show your passion. It’s an essential part of becoming an exceptional speaker.
Emotions are contagious. If you feel it, your audience will feel it. If you feel confident, you audience will have confidence in you. If you feel passionate, they will connect with that passion and follow you anywhere.
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