Often, our clients feel like if they talk about conflict or problems in their presentations, their audiences won’t respect them. It feels kind of risky. We asked Jesse about this. If a speaker takes the risk, what is the speaker going to get in return?
“The benefit that you get is a better connection with your audience.”
“A story generally isn’t interesting without a complication.”
“When we’re listening to other people we’re looking for ways to handle life’s challenges.”
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Matt: One thing that you mentioned in your seminar at Columbia, you mentioned the conflict resolution thing. You know talk about a conflict and then talk about a resolution. Talk about a conflict and then talk about a resolution. I’m kind of worried. The risk is, I think that my audience they’re going to think that I’m a loser if I keep talking about this conflict and stuff. It feels kind of risky for me. If I take this risk what am I going to, what benefit am I going to get?
Jesse: Fantastic question. The benefit that you get is a better connection with your audience. You seem more real, more human. When you seem more human … I mean because humans face challenges. Humans have difficulties every day. Okay maybe some days are good. No but seriously they can be small difficulties or big difficulties. One of the stories I told in my seminar was about how I go to the grocery store and the cashier always double bags my groceries and-
Matt: Yeah I like it. It’s the one where you go home and then you tell Diane and she’s only moderately interested but then you say well maybe she’ll file it away for future reference. Is that the-
Jesse: Yeah. Absolutely. Some of the stories, some of the experiences we have are small and not that important overall and others are more meaningful. The fact is that we encounter challenges every day. We by nature put them into story format when we tell other people. Then people react with their own stories. I tell Diane that story and maybe she has a similar story that she wants to tell. It’s really interesting to pay attention just in every day life when you’re talking to friends or associates. To hear how they respond to a story. That they’re often times waiting for you to finish so that they can tell you what happened to them.
I mean back to the complication resolution thing. A story generally isn’t interesting without a complication because what people want to know is what can they learn from our experiences. We all want to reduce our costs. Right? If we can learn something without having a bitter experience, learning the hard way, then that’s fantastic. That really reduces our cost of learning. When we’re listening to other people we’re learning, we’re looking for ways to learn how to handle life’s challenges. That is what increases the value of our messages. Is that if we show the complication, talk about what we struggled with first, and then how we over came it. Assuming you’ve overcome the challenge, then you’re not a loser. You’ve learned something through the experience.
Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.