Quickest Way to Connect to Your Audience?

The quickest way to connect with your audience is to share your failures and flaws. Sometimes sharing your frustrations and firsts also helps.

Why Share Failures?

Lots of people don’t care for motivational speakers because they’re used to hearing the kind that thinks a motivational speech should consist of bragging about their successes and then telling their audience members, “You can do it too!” Well guess what? If you just speak on your successes and not about your failures, your audience members will not believe they too can do it. They’ll simply believe you can do it.

Never come across as Special

The absolute last thing you ever want an audience to think is that you are special. The very first thing you want them to think is that you are similar; similar to them. When they think you are similar, they will automatically realize you must have a special process that helped you succeed. As a result, they will want that same special process and that’s why you will be able to influence them to take the next step towards getting it.  What I am saying is this:

When you lift yourself up, you let your audience down

Those who are driven by their egos when speaking will end up on a dead-end road with little or no audience connection.

Fail First

Since I began to understand that there is power in pain, I started opening my speeches with a story about my own failure. This works well because it’s unexpected to my audience and lets them think, “Hey, I can relate to that.” But here’s what else it does. When I finally share one of my success stories (which you should definitely eventually share in your speech), my audience actually cares! That’s right, when they know you’ve failed, they care when you’ve won. That’s the beauty behind sharing a failure story early in your speech.

My 4 Fs (Failures, Flaws, Frustrations, and Firsts)

Below are some examples of what I have shared over the years and hopefully they can help you search  for situations in your own life that you can dig up, dust off, and share.

  • I share my poor SAT score
  • I share how I bombed during a high-paid speaking engagement
  • I share how I lost a humorous speech contest at the lowest possible level
  • I share how I was hurt when my speaking idol ignored me
  • I share how I almost let negativity stop me from writing The Nuts and Bolts of Public Speaking
  • I share how I got speech coaching and realized I was not a very good speaker
  • I share how I was called Daffy Duck because of the enormous lisp I had as a child
  • I share how I expelled a man from the residential Employment Academy program I was directing and he was shot and killed on the streets of Baltimore later that night  
  • I share how I had been traveling so much that my 6-year old daughter wrote me a note that said, “You are the best daddy in my whole family.”

Another Great Example of Using Failures to Help Your Audience Succeed

My great friend and fellow World Champion Darren LaCroix literally shows his first time on stage doing comedy. Believe me, when people see that video clip, and then realize he went from that to a World Champion of Public Speaking, it gives them hope. They say to themselves, “Regardless of where I stand today, I can be a speaker too!” Mission accomplished.

 Your Turn

Think about the times you’ve failed, felt flawed, been frustrated, or done something for the first time (that wasn’t anything to write home about), and then be courageous enough to open up and share it.

People will not think less of you. In fact, they will think more of themselves

They’ll believe in their potential. They will also appreciate the process you used to get from where you were to where you are. Just think; your failure can lead to their success. That’s a true connection!

Craig Valentine

As a motivational speaker I've been fortunate to have spoken in over 20 countries, and back in 1999 Toastmasters International awarded me the World Champion of Public Speaking.

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