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One of the keys to audience engagement when giving a talk is to get their attention right up front. But how can we accomplish that when they can efficiently multitask using their mobile devices and PCs as they listen to us, either live or remotely?
The framework I will share in this article is one that I learned from one of my mentors, Pete Vargas.
There is a format to any talk you deliver that will ensure your discussion is exceptionally engaging.
As an immigrant, English is my second language, and Spanish is my first. When I became a business owner in 2017, I dreamt of delivering speeches for a living--to inspire and help leaders and busy professionals take charge of their careers to reach their full potential.
I had zero professional speaking experience--so I knew that my passion alone would not make me an engaging speaker. To my advantage, I'm not afraid of speaking in public--on the contrary, I get energized by it. So, my strategy was to start watching how my favorite speakers delivered engaging talks.
To take it one step further, I began to enroll in training to help me become a better orator. I joined Lisa Nichol's class on Mindvalley. I learned from Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins, watching them like a hawk to appreciate their framework for engaging me and the 1,000s who joined their training programs.
What I'm going to share with you has taken me five years to learn and practice--I share it so that you can engage your teams, department, and company as you ascend through the ranks and grow your impact and influence within your roles.
Combine what I share here with what you already do that works, and leave behind what doesn't serve you.
The framework includes three key components:
Component #1: The Heart
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When you start your talk, craft a three-minute compelling heart story that connects your audience to the context of the talk you're going to give. Connect it to the topic, location, or something that will be relevant to them. This approach is how you create a common ground between your audience and you.
For example, whenever I start one of my talks, training, or keynote, at an ERG event, leadership summit or conference, at one of my leadership training programs, etc., I always share my "origin story." I share it in a way that is relevant to the topic I'm discussing and connect the subject to a relevant aspect of my life story.
For instance, I share that I am a transformational speaker, leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 best-selling author. And how what I do today seemed impossible when I was 14, an immigrant, and a freshman in high school. I share that I was born in a small village near Haiti in the Dominican Republic and started from scratch in 1983 when my mom brought me to the U.S.--without knowing English, not having any friends, and knowing "nada" about the culture.
I continue to create and involve components of that story that relate to the theme I'm going to address. I talk about the role "the theme" played in those formative years as I built a professional career and pursued my dream of becoming an independent woman who can fend for herself and reach her potential.
My origin story has themes of resilience, hope, faith, struggles, and challenges. It connects me to the audience and shows them my humanity as I efforted to overcome the obstacles--with the support of teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, and my parents. That is one of the heartwarming stories I share with my audiences.
Once you engage them through your heart, you create a string between your heart and theirs. Now your audience is ready to listen to your message.
What can be a "heart" story to share with your audience, your team, your manager, a group of investors, clients, etc.
Component #2: The Head
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Engage your audience through intellect, logic, numbers, data, etc.
People want to know, why should I listen to you?
What is it that you know that I should listen to you?
What is the "problem" or goal?
The "head" is the main content of your talk, especially if you're giving a presentation at work.
What are the facts that you're demonstrating?
What do you want people to walk away with and do?
All of those are pieces of the main content. This component is the main meal of your talk. In terms of time, this is where you spend over 50% of your time.
"The head" in many of my talks include strategies to identify and leverage your ujnique value proposition, connect and build relationships with your centers of influence, including mentors and sponsors, build your personal brand, create a unique action plan to achieve meaningful carrer goals, etc.
What is the main message you want to deliver to your audience and what facts support it?
Component #3: The Hands
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The last part of your talk is your CTA, a call to action--tell your audience what you want them to do with the information you shared. Hands symbolize "actions," doing something.
For example, at the end of every one of my talks, I recommend the "next steps," whether it is to go to their resources page and work on the tools that I shared during my keynote, or reach out to their mentor, download their FREE eBook, etc.
What is your call to action? What would you have your audience do after they leave?
Using the components together
So, we discused the heart, which is that heartwarming story.
Then we go to the head, the actual content, and finally, we move into the hands, the call to action--what you want people to do after listening to your presentation.
To re-engage from the heart as you conclude your talk, close by going back to the heart with another heartwarming story for one or two minutes to compel the audience to act.
One framework for an exceptionally engaging presentation includes the heart, the head, the hands, and the heart again.
What is required for these pieces to work, the heart, the head, and the hands?
Applying this framework for engaging your audience requires vulnerability and authenticity.
I can get up and share with the audience stories I've read about or somebody else's story that I know about, but that won't be as effective as sharing my own experiences.
If you're talking about vulnerability, resilience, or being an influential communicator, perhaps you want to share your struggle when you didn't communicate well, such as when I came to this country--similar to what I did when I started this article.
There was a time in my first year of high school when I didn't even know what the word "jump" meant. And my English teacher, Ms. Einstein, would show me by hopping across the front of the classroom.
Later in life, during my mid-forties, I struggled with launching a new business because I knew nothing about running a business from scratch. I helped myself by seeking out mentors who helped me and taught me what they already knew.
These are authentic stories that I don't have to make up. And every time I share the stories, they sound similar because they are true. I'm not making them up.
Being honest and authentic is critical in sharing your stories.
You are also engaging your audience in an authentic way that is also vulnerable. That approach will lead you to the outcomes you want. In my case, the results I seek are to leave my audiences inspired and ready to take action to enhance the quality of their lives, advance, and evolve in their leadership roles.
How will you use this framework to engage your audience: The heart, the mind, and the hands?
You can reach us at www.callwithginny.com to set up a complimentary strategy session and explore how our programs can support you to grow and advance. We have helped Fortune 500 clients and can help you increase your visibility through storytelling, assertive communication, authentic relationship building, and leading, engaging, and influencing high-performing teams with a sense of well-being.
Live with purpose, live with joy!
Coach Ginny 💕
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Dr. Ginny A. Baro is an award-winning transformational speaker & leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 best-selling author of Healing Leadership and Fearless Women at Work. Ginny specializes in partnering with organizations and ERGs to develop leadership dream teams. And she supports individuals navigating a corporate hierarchy or transitioning into an entirely new phase of their career. She has successfully facilitated live and virtual leadership training and coaching programs for individuals and Fortune 500 companies with over 140,000 employees, and delivered keynotes impacting global audiences larger than 7,000. To learn more, visit ExecutiveBound.
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