My Favorite Audience Reflection Tool

Reflection leads to Connection

How to Get Your Audience to Reflect 

There is a process you can use to make a deep connection with your audience, to get them thinking, and, believe it or not, to build more than a speech. You’ll see what I mean by “more than a speech” later in this entry.

First, we have to go back to the words I learned from the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. He said, “Don’t get your audience to listen and memorize; get them to think and realize.” The way you do this is through reflection. Get them to reflect. The more they reflect, the more you’ll connect.  I believe this process you’re about to pick up gets them to reflect beyond what most speakers get them to do and gets you to connect deeper than most speakers ever will.


The Audience Reflection Tool (ART)

Here are the 3 steps to the ART process.

Step 1: Take an object out of your speech

Step 2: Put it into your audience’s world by asking them about it

Step 3: Give them a reason to embrace the object in their own life

Now that you know the three steps, listen to them in action. You’ll hear two quick examples of this process. Ready? Okay here’s the first example (40 seconds).

Example #1


Okay, let’s look at the steps.

Step 1: Take an object out of your speech – I took the scale out of my speech

Step 2: Put it into your audience’s world by asking them about it – I put it into their world by asking, “What’s your scale?”

Step 3: Finally, I gave them a reason to embrace the object. For example, I let my audience know that you “Master what you measure.” Well, anyone who wants to master something in life should connect with that reason for having a scale (whatever their scale is).

The scale (whatever kind of scale they use for whatever endeavor they undertake) becomes real in their lives.

Example #2

Here’s another quick example of this 3-step process in action (1 minute and 16 seconds):


Let’s go over the steps again.

Step 1: Take an object out of your speech – I took the stage from my speech

Step 2: Put it into your audience’s world by asking them about it – I asked them, “What stage are YOU stepping on at least 1000 times.”

Step 3: Give them a reason to embrace the object in their own life – I said, “Most people aren’t willing to do the mental work to get the real world reward.” Well, at least that’s what I say today. And, as you know if you’ve listened to me before, the words “Most people” are two of the most influential words in the English language. Why? Because the moment you say, “Most people do this” people will say, “Not me!” And you’ve automatically influenced them to do the opposite.

What about you?

I’ve used a scale and I’ve used a stage. What object can you take from your story and place into your audience’s world by asking them about it? Look for that object in your current stories.

A Strong Subtle Way to Make the Object and the Reflection Real

One of the techniques you can use to make the object feel real is to have an actual place on the stage that represents the object. That way you can continue calling back to them visually and verbally throughout the speech. For example, when I say, “So you face reality, with whatever scale you use…” I always gesture back to the space on the floor where the scale was in my story. Eventually that gesture itself is able to stand alone (without words) and have the audience pick up what it means.

What are the best kinds of objects to use?

The best objects are ones that represent more than what they mean to your own story. A scale can mean any way that you measure or assess what you’re doing in business or in life. It doesn’t just mean a scale you step on to weigh yourself. It means much more. There are many types of scales in all walks of life.

A stage becomes any platform or endeavor your audience members have in their own lives. It’s not just the type of stage you step on to give a speech. Your stage might be as a doctor or librarian or activist. It’s whatever you imagine yourself to become.  In other words, it’s not just about a physical scale or a physical stage. It’s whatever your audience interprets those to be for them.

What kind of results can you expect to get by using this process of taking something from your story and putting it in the audience’s world?

Here’s where we go beyond just a speech. There’s another possible valuable result you just might discover using this process. The object you take from your story and put into the audience’s world could eventually become a brand. For example, let’s take Olivia Schofield. She was a finalist in the 2011 WCPS and, she won over that audience with a speech about her limitations and how her teddy bear (that she called Wodwick) helped her overcome them. Well, recently she sent me a message and here’s part of what she had to say:

“I created a brand…still in it’s early days, but Wodwik will be blogging and carrying his message of ‘don’t let your limitations stamp you as a failure'”. So now, if you go to, you’ll see exactly what she’s done.


You can build a brand with this technique

This proves that taking an object from your life, putting it into your audience’s world, and asking them about it, can not only build a speech; it can build a brand and a business. In fact, if you look at Wodwick’s blog, you’ll see pictures of other people with Wodwick. So I guess Olivia took something from her story and physically put it into other peoples’ lives. Love it!

This formula will work when you work this formula.

Your Turn

What about you? Have you used this technique? If not, what object can you take from your story, put into your audience’s world, and ask them about?

Craig Valentine

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