Confusing your audience in stories

Last night I watched a speaker say something like this: “Do you remember the scene where they tore the page from the textbook in Dead Poet’s Society? ”. He then proceeded to relate the scene in the movie to his speech.

While using a quote, idea or story from a movie to help make a point is a useful and powerful technique, you need to be a little careful not to make one of these two assumption:

  • We had all seen the movie
  • We all remembered the scene/quote.

Those of us who had seen the movie will try to remember exactly what happened, and the rest of us have no idea what the speaker is talking about. This confused the audience and they loose the connection with the speaker.

Here are three suggestions.

  1. Pick an example that most of your audience can relate to.
  2. Give a brief summary of the scene; just enough to help the audience understand why it emphasises your point
  3. Provide context for people that may not be familiar with the example, so that they can relate to the story.

This doesn’t just apply to scene’s from a movie, it could be a quote from a famous speech, or even an important event. For example if I was giving a speech on national unity, I could say something like this

“Do you remember when Nelson Mandela walked onto the rugby field in 1995 after South Africa won the world cup final?”

The South African’s in the audience will remember the moment, but not many others will. Here is an alternative:

“It was 1995, and South Africa having just come out of years of racial segregation, was hosting the Rugby World Cup competition. Due to anti-apartheid sporting boycotts, this was the first year that South Africa was allowed to enter, and they beat New Zealand in the finals to take the trophy. Nelson Mandela walked onto the field wearing a springbok rugby jersey, and presented the trophy to the captain Francois Pineaar, and a nation cheered.”

Which example do you prefer?

Mandela, Rugby World Cup Final, 1995

Even if I gave that story to an audience that does not follow rugby, they can probably relate it to a similar story that is relevant to sporting matches that they follow.

Keep your examples powerful, relevant and simple to capture your audiences, build powerful connections and leave memorable messages.

DG in the news

Hi All

The recent Toastmasters Induction Dinner has made it into the Cape Town local papers. Cape Community Newspapers ran an article which was syndicated to most of the local community newspapers.

Correction: I am the second youngest District Governor. Howard Steinberg beat me in 1980.

You can read the article below.

Craig Induction Dinner

I hope that it brings some new members in.

Toastmasters Induction Speech

On Saturday 4 July, we celebrated our incoming Toastmasters district leaders by holding a gala Induction Dinner.

I was installed as District Governor in a ceremony chaired by Past District Governor, Frances Boshoff, after which I presented my incoming address, where I spoke a little about what Toastmasters means to me, and I presented the district theme – Toastmasters, Growing People.

District Governor

The outgoing officers were also released from their duties, allowing them to handover the leadership duties to a new set of officers, and Lois Strachan was installed as the IPDG (Immediate Past District Governor), which means that she will be chairing the PDG advisary committee for the next year.

Anyway, if you missed the dinner, it was a fantastic function, and judging by the noise level, was enjoyed by all. If you didn’t manage to get there, I have a video of my speech, you can watch it below. Anyway, keep talking, and remember that Toastmasters Grow people!

District Governor (gulp)

Growing People

As of two days ago, I am the District Governor for Toastmasters District 74, Southern Africa. Geographically, we are one of the largest districts in the world, covering 9 countries in Southern Africa. I am also the youngest District Governor in D74
ever, but I feel ready for the challenge.

I joined Toastmasters in 2000, with the aim of simply becoming a better public speaker, but it did not take very long to realise that Toastmasters is not just about public speaking. It is about learning to become an effective communicator and leader, and I have been on a remarkable journey
of growth. Through Toastmasters, I have

  • Trained in South Africa
  • Trained in Malawi
  • Trained in Namibia
  • Travelled three times to USA, each time carrying a flag of our District
  • Spoken in the four largest cities in South Africa
  • Opened conferences
  • Emceed meetings, conferences and events

Zimbabwe Zambia

Now, please don't think that I am bragging, because I am not. I am showing
you this list to demonstrate that I have learned to do things that I would never
been able to do in the past, both through the acquired skills, and through self
confidence that I have developed.

Whenever Toastmasters has provided me with an opportunity, I have grabbed it,
which is why I have got so much out of it.

Our district theme this year is "Toastmasters – Growing People". And the more
that I am involved, the more I realise that the best way to grow is help others
to grow. By giving, you receive back tenfold. So, it is with great excitment, a
little nerviousness, and hugh anticipa……..tion that I look forward to the
next year!