Undoubtedly, you’ve heard more than your share of speakers who delivered a dry, fact-loaded speech. While there’s nothing wrong with facts, of course, it does beg the question: why am I here? Just give me the report, for crying out loud, and I’ll read it for myself.  But humanizing the talk adds interest and magic and makes your audience want to listen to you.

Most presenters are hyper focused on the information – getting the facts right, showing the slides, doing a brain dump. As a result, they neglect a very important part: making the information real and meaningful by “humanizing” it.

Dale Carnegie, the “father of public speaking,” once said that “one of the most interesting things in the world is sublimated, glorified gossip.” He was promoting the use of human interest stories in a presentation to make it interesting, entertaining and attention-getting. His advice is as true today as it was 50 years ago.

Examples of Humanizing Elements

  • Analogy – a comparison between two things, like a computer to a brain.
  • Anecdote – I think of an anecdote as a “slice of life,” something you experienced that bears sharing.
  • Story – a story is more of a fable, a fictitious story that usually has a moral or lesson to it.
  • Prop or Visual – having something in your hand, like displaying a product sample, or referring to an image on a screen can give you purposeful movement and be interesting to your audience.
  • Examples – something that illustrates the point or is characteristic of it, just as listing all these types of humanizing elements are “examples” of humanizing the talk.
  • Humor – I’d stay away from jokes, but telling funny anecdotes is a great way to build rapport with an audience. If people are laughing, they’re enjoying themselves, and if they’re enjoying themselves, they’re going to be more interested and engaged.

Your job as a speaker is to make your content interesting and memorable, to add some color. Facts, statistics, numbers or raw data alone won’t do that. The audience wants your take on the information, your spin, your interpretation. They want to hear the story behind the numbers, what your information means for them. As a speaker you want to make your information real for the audience. And you can do this by humanizing the talk.  When you add human interest, you create audience interest.


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