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Talking to a crowd of one

A speech is one person talking to a crowd. Right?

Yet, an interesting shift happens when you switch your thinking from “crowd” to “people”.

When working with leaders on their communication this is one of the most profound differences that boosts their comfort level in public settings.

Try it. What would you say if you didn’t speak to a crowd but to just a few people. Or even just one person? A specific one? Jennifer?

Most people speak differently to crowds than they do to people. They skip the superficial part, the abstract language, the generic examples, and the egocentric “look how awesome we are” pieces.

And skipping that makes them use language and gestures that feel much more true to themselves. Suddenly, it’s them talking, not the marketing department. It’s a person speaking to another person, not a company speaking to a “target group”.

Here’s one simple step towards this: When preparing your next speech, imagine one specific person in the audience. What’s her name? Why is she granting you the time? Where is she coming from? And then imagine how you speak to just her.

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