Are you an influencer?
Turning Shelf-Development into Self-Development
As a speaker you are an influencer, you have one or more POINTs you want to share with your audience, and presumably, you want them to do something differently as a result of hearing your talk. My main POINT is, that as a speaker You are an influencer … if people do something differently as a result of hearing your talk.
The thing is, however much you might want to, you can’t change other people’s behaviour simply by trying to change their behaviour. You see, our behaviour is based on our attitudes and emotions, which in turn are based on our values and motives, which are based on our beliefs.
“Our behaviour is based on our attitudes and emotions, which are based on our values and motives, which are based on our beliefs.”
So if we can’t get people to change their behaviour by changing their behaviour, how do we go about Influencing an audience, so that they do end up changing their behaviour, and turn Shelf-Development into Self-Development?
Now, every Point needs a STORY and every Story needs a Point. It’s well known that we all tend to decide on emotion, and justify with logic. This is true in buying things, and it’s also true in buying ideas, like the ideas you’re going to present in your talk, and it’s the stories in your talk that connect with the emotions.
Every Point needs a story and every story needs a point.
These days we all have a smartphone with a note-taking app available at all times. So capture your stories. Create a folder for your personal stories, and when something happens that you think could make a good story, capture it then and there.
I used to teach violin as a peripatetic teacher at a local private school for a few years, and in between lessons I had little else to do so I took some of my solo repertoire and practiced them, and my standard of playing really improved. Around the same time I started playing an electric violin in a band, and it was my job to play harmonies and add some improvisation here and there. Musically speaking, that was absolutely far and away the most enjoyable thing that I’ve ever been lucky enough to be involved in.
When I was teaching violin I had a Grade V student I’ll call Steph. She was totally focused on practicing the pieces she had to play for her next exam, which in her case was Grade V. She had little interest in learning to play anything else at all. She was simply on a mission to maximise her UCAS points. She wanted to be able to play the pieces, but never managed to really feel the tune. She wanted the qualification without the education. She wanted to pass the test without learning the techniques.
But playing the violin is not just about playing the right notes. My violin teacher was a rather short, fairly slim, elderly lady called Mrs Vera K Stubbington, and she told me: “It’s not about playing the notes, it’s about feeling the tune.” Mrs Stubbington taught me to play scales & arpeggios, and she used studies and exercises to help me learn the various techniques that violinists need to learn, such as spiccato – that’s where you get the bow bouncing on the string to play a very fast tight tune, double stopping, which is where you play two notes at once, and forced harmonics, which is where you stop the string with the first finger, and rest the little finger on the string to make a sound two octaves higher, and then had me learn some pieces that used these techniques, to help me to feel the music using these techniques. One of those tunes that I still play today is a piece called Czardas, by Vittorio Monti, and that uses loads of exciting and challenging techniques. Mrs Stubbington gave me a musical education, not just a qualification.
“It’s not about playing the notes, it’s about feeling the tune.”
Next month I’ll be playing violin at two very special weddings – my niece and nephew are getting married – err, not to each other though. They’ve managed to find a spouse each! I’ve had to learn some new pieces for these weddings. As I was learning the notes initially, my wife, Sue, said to me “that sounds really mechanical. Anyone who knows the tune is never going to be able to sing along to that”, so then I had to learn how the tunes are sung; I really had to get a feel for the music.
Both the notes and the feel are important. Steph played the notes, but without any feeling; she wanted the qualification without the education. To inspire our audience we need to connect with them emotionally, and it’s stories that help us to do that.
PSA: Every Point, needs a Story, and every talk needs an Application
Every Point, needs a Story, and finally, here’s the APPLICATION. We can use the acronym PSA to help remember this structure.
As speakers, we’re not here to try and change behaviour because as we know, we can’t change behaviour by trying to change behaviour. Rather we need to to work on the attitudes, values or beliefs that cause the behaviour. Behaviour is just the manifestation of what’s going on underneath. So, we need to find the common ground in the attitudes, values or beliefs of our audience, and then we need to connect with them there, emotionally, and it’s our stories that help us to do that.
Recently I was watching The Voice with Sue, and there were some great sounding singers for whom the judges didn’t turn, and some seemingly less accomplished singers for whom they did turn. It seemed as if there was something more than just the notes they were listening for, and I suspect that they were listening out for the singers who could “feel” the music. They seemed to be listening out for that emotional connection.
When I started to learn bass, one of the techniques I learned had to do with tapping my foot. After spending years in orchestras where it is really frowned upon to tap your foot (you need to be looking at the conductor for the timing) with the bass it’s encouraged. I learned a technique from one of the excellent tutorials on ScottsBassLessons.com and it really helps to be able to feel the groove when playing bass. It’s a really simple tip, and that is to tap my heel, not my toe. Try it, and you’ll find that tapping your heel causes your whole body to feel in synch with the tune.
In our talks are we able to feel the tune, rather as I need to feel the groove when playing bass guitar, or swing the tune a little when playing the violin, or will we be like Steph, who just wanted to play the notes, and she failed to get her grade V by the way. We don’t want to fail our audience; we don’t want to come along and just share a collection of points, no matter how brilliant they may be; we want to connect with our audience emotionally so that they will buy into it, and we want them to understand how they could apply it and change their behaviour accordingly.
When I was having violin lessons, my progress in playing the violin and getting the feel for the music was measured in cat minutes. Mrs Stubbington had a cat called Felix, and during some lessons Felix left the room straight away, other days he might stay a little while before leaving, and I remember the first day when Mrs Stubbington came out of the lesson and said to my Mum, who was in the waiting room: “Roger played very well today, Felix stayed in the room right through to the end of his lesson”.
To finish I would like to ask you: “What’s the length of your talk in cat-minutes”? How long does your audience “stay in the room”, because It’s measured in cat minutes. And remember, as Mrs Stubbington used to say, “it’s not about playing the notes, it’s about feeling the tune.”
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.