This Might Ruin Every Speech You Hear

Posted by Vince Poscente on Wed, Mar 04, 2015 @ 03:00 AM

When a motivational keynote speaker talks about him or her self, the words can quickly morph into an egocentric trip. When a presenter brings the audience into the stories, the room can be transported on an unforgettable experience for the crowd. 90%+ of speakers think the audience is there to hear the presenter's point of view. 99.999% of audiences are thinking; What's in it for me?

egocentricperspectiveRecently, a highly paid motivational keynote speaker delivered a talk about his experiences and what made him "the best in the world." Seconds into the speech it was evident his use of "I" and "me" overshadowed the words "you" and "your." Tallying the I's / Me's vs You's / Your's the numbers were staggering. The 'professional' speaker said "I / me" 687 times. Many sentences had "I" in it three times. He said "you / your" 92 times. When he did say "you," most of it was how 'you' should live 'your' life. Towards the end of his talk he inserted the company's name once.  

A few months back a successful sales person gave a business keynote speech to a hungry group of aspiring entrepreneurs. Half way through his talk, it was obvious the word "I" was outweighing "you." In 30 minutes he said "I" 326 times. As if he went to the same school of speaking as motivational keynote speaker above, he said "you" only in context of telling his audience what they should do to be more like him.

These are only two examples of the thousands of speeches given every month where "I" trump "you."

Beware: Being conscious of the "I's" vs "You's" ratio is a

hive inducing infliction.

Soon you will start to notice how many articles begin with I. Then you'll notice how many emails has "I" repeated roughly two dozen times. Facebook and Instagram posts show up on your "I / me" radar. But then... your infliction will go to Hazmat Status at a cocktail party, or any social setting for that matter. The words "I" and "me" become equivalent to a Dodge Ball nightmare where your slender, 9th grade frame is lined up against the brick wall at school. Every "I" or "me" is a scratchy rubber ball hurled at you by all the 12th grade meatheads. Comedian, Brian Regan calls this person, The Me Monster. You only have to get 30 seconds into this hilarious bit before you get the point.

At the National Speakers Association annual meeting in 1996, Joel Weldon impacted 500+ professional speakers with the "I / me" vs "you / your" ratio. For yours truly, "impacted" is less than sufficient. Revolutionized is more appropriate. Mr. Weldon told a story. At the end of it, he pointed out a colleague, Mark Sanborn, had collected the "I / me" vs "you / your" data. Mr. Weldon then asked the audience to pretend they were hearing the same story again; for the first time. "Let it wash over you. Don't analyze it. Just experience it." Mr. Weldon proceeded to completely flip the "I's and me's" to "you's and yours." The difference was life changing.

In an instant, the realization fell into place.

Giving a speech is not about the speaker's external message but about the audience's internal experience.

Whether it's a speech, email, post or social conversation, is your audience in your story or an observer of your story?

Is it about you - or them?

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Tags: Motivational