The Most Powerful Word in Public Speaking

The Most Powerful Word in Public Speaking

In this post, taken from my book “CAPTIVATE: Public Speaking Secrets from TED Talks“, you will discover the most powerful word in the public speaking.

What is it?

You. That’s right. You.

In public speaking, the magic word that helps you connect with your audience is the word “you.”

[Tweet “The word “you” is regarded as one of the most powerful words in the English language.”]

Why?

Because you are interested in you! People are interested in themselves.

Before we go further, watch this great TED talk by Seth Godin:

Notice that in order to make the story of sliced bread relevant to his audience, Seth had to turn the focus from sliced bread (i.e. “other-focused) to audience-focused (i.e. “you-focused”):

 “And I think that the way you’re going to get what you want, or cause the change that you want to change, to happen, is that you’ve got to figure out a way to get your ideas to spread.”

Here’s another example of you-focused speaking from Seth’s talk:

“The way the TV-industrial complex works, is you buy some ads — interrupt some people — that gets you distribution. You use the distribution you get to sell more products. You take the profit from that to buy more ads.”

Giving audience-centered presentations

public speaking secrets from ted talksWhenever you speak, remember that your presentation is never about you (the speaker). It’s always about the audience.

Keep your presentation audience-centered by using you-focused language. Avoid the mistake of being speaker-centered and talking about yourself using I-focused language.

For example, in one of the presentations I gave, I could have used the following I-focused description to tell my story:

“I could sense the excitement. Over four-hundred people sat squashed together at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.”

While this would have been a good opening, I made it even better. I made it you-focused. Here’s how I started:

 “You could sense the excitement. Over four-hundred people sat squashed together at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.”

Place your audience in your story

Do you feel the difference between the two? The first one is speaker-focused. The second one is audience-focused. It engages the audience members by placing them in my situation – they become a part of my story and become mentally engaged in my presentation.

Whenever you can, look for ways to turn I-focused sections of your presentation into audience-focused sections (“you-focused”).

Want more great public speaking tips? Then check out my book, “CAPTIVATE: Public Speaking Secrets from TED Talks

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