Though this book is for anyone, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John Maxwell is a must for anyone who stands to speak before people on a regular basis. As the book mentions, there are Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator: “being unprepared, uncommitted, uninteresting, or uncomfortable.” Here are some of the highlights I gleaned specifically for connecting while speaking in front of a group.
1. Keep it simple.
Too often, those who are speaking don’t make it plain enough. At best, the speaker just lives with those big words and lofty concepts as part of their everyday life. At worst, a speaker tries to unnaturally use large words to impress people. The best speakers know how to say in plainly, in simple terms so people can grasp it and internalize it. The measure of a great teacher isn’t what he or she knows, it’s what the students know. Help them get it by making it simple.
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2. Give them something.
Think of giving your people something while you are speaking. Connecting is always about helping the people who are listening. You want to find common ground and offer them something helpful and hopeful. A speaker on stage for themselves will alienate. A speaker on stage for his career will come across too slick. But a speaker who is there to give people something connects on a level that helps change people, because they truly want to help make things better.
3. Say it over again.
As a communicator, you want to come back to your main point in several different ways. The themes that are important need to be said over and over and again, so people have a chance of not only hearing them, but living them. This probably applies most for those who speak to the same group on a regular basis – your church, your staff, your team must know the critical parts of your mission together and they must hear it repeated on a regular basis.
4. Get to the point.
Speakers want to try and get to the point before the listeners start asking, “What’s the point?”. Be able to articulate your speech in one sentence and this will help bring clarity to your speaking, which will help in your connection with others.
You can’t truly connect without an investment of your energy. Prepare before, be ready, then fuel your talk with passion and energy so people not only hear what you have to say, but feel it. Energy comes across in the volume, smiles, eye contact, pacing and movement. Non energetic speaking will not move people to action.
6. Think about them.
What does your audience need? Who is your audience? How will they respond? How would you like them to respond? What is the purpose of your time together? What action would you like them to take? What is the setting? What have they experienced together so far? What is next on their agenda? Do everything you can to know about your audience and put them first. People don’t remember what we think is important. They remember what they think is important. Find out what that is and focus on them.
7. Inspire people.
Inspiration comes through words, demonstration, facial expressions, stories, delivery, passion and purpose. Inspiring your people will do wonders for their response to you and to the organization. Inspire them to want to become more, do better, live more boldly.
8. Tell stories.
Stories make all the difference. People learn lessons as they hear stories. Stories inspire, teach and entertain. Use them as much as you can to help connect people to you and to the message.
Take a look at all the practical advice and great stories in this book!
Quotes from the book:
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The great teacher demonstrates.”
“Vision without passion is a picture without possibilities.”
“Of all the virtues gratitude is probably the most neglected and least expressed.”
“Silent gratitude isn’t much good to anyone.”
“Connections always begins with a commitment to someone else.”
“Communication comes from the Latin word communis, meaning “common.”
“If you want to win over another person, first win his heart, and the rest of him is likely to follow.”
“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.”
“Adapt to them—don’t expect them to adapt to you.”
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.”
“Being simple is hard work.”
“Nobody wants to be sold, but everyone wants to be helped.”
“Anytime you are in front of other people to communicate— whether it’s on a stage, in a boardroom, on a ball field, or across a coffee table—the visual impression you make will either help or hinder you.”
“The more you do to go beyond words, the greater the chance you will connect with people.”
“The bottom line is that indifference is really a form of selfishness.”
“I’ve learned that if you want people to be impressed, you can talk about your successes; but if you want people to identify with you, it’s better to talk about your failures.”
“Connecting always requires energy.”