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Holding Your Audience's Attention

Your Questions Have Power


“Do me a favour... ask yourself this…”

When we’re trying to get through to someone, why do we say that? Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell them what’s wrong?

The truth is that humans are simply not good at listening to others.


“What’s the purpose of doing this?”

Or more accurately:

“What’s my purpose for doing this?”

Is the first thing that comes to our head. That’s a difficult question to answer, isn’t it?

In fact, that might be the hardest question to answer. But as any good mentor will tell you, every challenge is solved by breaking it down into smaller components.

The Seven-Fold Situation

Did you know that you can’t fold a piece of paper in half more than seven times?

Go ahead, I know you want to do it ;)

Take a piece of normal paper, whatever size you want (it won’t make a difference).

Make sure to fold your chosen piece of paper exactly in half, without tilting either half toward the right or the left; keeping the opposite edges completely aligned.

Now, try doing that more than 7 times. You’ll find that you can’t.

Unravel that piece of paper. See all the folds, see the seams that you pressed down, tearing away at the paper pulp.

Now, think about your speaking journey.

Every speech starts with a blank piece of paper, whether literally or metaphorically.

This piece of paper will be soon full of ink, ideas, intent, and purpose, but right now it’s just a blank slate, a tabula rasa.

“What do I want to speak about?”

When starting something, this is always the first thought in your mind, whether you know it or not.

That’s because we, as humans, are sentient, intelligent beings, and we must always have a reason to do everything.

That includes the act of writing.

So, before you start putting one word after the other, ask yourself, seriously.

“What do I want to speak about?”

This answer should come like second nature.

We are innately aware of our relationships with others, and we sit on mountains of personal and collective experience that are valid and meaningful.

So, answer that question. Most likely, after you’ve done that, written it down as the title of your speech,

“I can start writing here”

is what you might think.

Do so, however, and you find yourself after the end of an hour having written what amounts to a fact sheet.

Bullet points.

Empty prompts.

Powerless words.

Your Questions Have Power

Your Words Have Power…

Because they can influence your community.

Because they can bring people with you.

Because they build trust.

But before your words can have power, the power lies in the questions you ask yourself.

There’s a famous saying in artist circles, that the only natural talent that artists possess, is the strong, unceasing desire to learn and to create.

Every single skill can be learned by anyone, but it is the insatiable hunger to produce meaningful work that differentiates a good artist from a great one.

The exact same thing can be said about speakers, and with speakers, it is the writing of a good speech that will uplift, motivate, and bridge understanding, that we desire more than anything.

How can we best put our ideas across? Well first, we need to know where those ideas are, and where they come from.

Of course, if we want to know something, we ask questions:

“Why do I want to speak about this?”

“Why then, do I feel that this topic is important now?”

“Why do I think anyone needs to hear this?”

We take the metaphorical empty piece of paper, and before even writing a word, start to test it.

Fold it.

Run your fingernails along the folded seams, pressing into the fold, all while pushing it down with your other hand.

Our paper here is our logical, rational side, and we are using questions to slowly circle in, testing whether it will break, whether it will yield.

7 Levels Deep

The right way to do this is to start with a very general question:

“What do I want to speak about?” or

“What do I want to accomplish?”

And then slowly, patiently, ask successive questions that get more critical, more specific.

This is called the 7 Levels Deep exercise and was pioneered by Dean Graziosi.

I found that when I did this exercise, not just with my projects, but my inner motivations, my life decisions, with anything.

I found that the paper in my mind started to give way after three to four “folds”.

On the third, the fourth question, I devolved into pure rambling.

I was grasping at the tiny threads of logic, trying to hurriedly pull this rational yarn.

I was trying to cover up for the fact that deeply, at our core, humans are emotionally driven.

“I want to prove to others that I can do it”

“I want people to look up to me”

“I want people to be more understanding”

“I would like to be heard”

These were my answers at the very end of the exercise. Strange, huh?

You would think that with each question your answer will get longer. While that might be true in a classroom when asking how science works, when it comes to matters of the heart like:

Motivation

Passion

Expression

At some point the yarn unravels.

At the core of every single thought and action, is a deep, vulnerable need. We might have phrased it with:

“I want…”

but really, it should’ve been:

“I need…”

Up Next at Your Words Have Power

Over the next few weeks, we will be conducting workshops to help you ask these questions.

We will be asking the When, What, Who and Why so much that you’ll slowly learn how to unwind the rational aspects of your story and find within, at its core, your real purpose. Why?

Because when we teach you How to speak, we’re training your vocal chords, your writing ability, your body language.

When we teach you to find out Why, we’re going straight to the live and beating heart at the core of you and your story.



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