The difference between a dry speech and an interesting one is in how much the speaker humanizes the talk. Pure facts, statistics, information, or explanations are not in and of themselves riveting. But when you add humanizing elements, you make your talk mesmerizing and memorable. Here are some examples.
Use a prop
I’ve seen speakers use fruit, an umbrella, a cupcake, a baseball mitt, a cup and saucer-just to name a few-all to great effect. (See the example under Hooks, Humor and Humanizing Stuff!)
Tell a story or anecdote
A diversity expert, speaking on the need to accept people’s differences if we are to embrace diversity, told a story of the elephant and the giraffe. The gist of the story was that the giraffe felt rather smug inviting the elephant to come in out of the cold to live in his home. Yet the elephant was unhappy because he didn’t “fit” the narrow doorways, steep stairwells, and high windows. The giraffe’s magnanimous solution was to tell the elephant to go on a diet and exercise to stretch his legs and neck.
True-life anecdotes are also powerful. There was the urban minister who spoke about his youth ministry. Despite the impressive numbers and statistics he cited indicating the success of his work, what the audience remembered was his story about being mugged on a New York street, talking to the mugger, and ending up holding the troubled youth who cried in the minister’s arms.
Use a visual
As long as visuals are used purposefully, providing information that helps your audience understand or remember your points, they can add interest and impact.
While jokes can be risky, a personal humorous anecdote can be very effective. I remember a salesman who was talking about the importance of never assuming the customer understood. He related a story about the time his toddler son had an earache. The doctor prescribed a liquid medicine, because it was easier for an infant to take than a pill. “When it came time to administer the dose,” said the speaker, “I poured the measured amount into a small cup. My son insisted that he be allowed to take the medicine himself. So, proud of his bravery, I handed him the cup. And he promptly poured it into his ear…”
Make an analogy
This is a powerful way to make numbers have meaning. Once I heard a college president compare the population of the world to the number of people in the room, which was 100. She cited many world facts in this context, such as “66 of you would be non-Christian; 70 of you would be nonwhite; 80 of you would live in substandard housing; 50 of you would suffer from malnutrition; six of you own half the wealth in this room-you six are Americans…” She concluded by saying, “And only one of you would have a college education.”
Give an example
That, of course, is what I’ve been doing throughout this article. Giving an example gives your point meaning and brings it to life.
So recognize that there’s no such thing as a dry topic-only a dry speaker. You have the power to make any subject riveting if you humanize your content.