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Speakers: Meet people right where they are (and there’s no place like home)

Will your next speech be somewhere far away from home?

If so, challenge yourself to find a link to the local region – and mention it early in your remarks to create immediate goodwill with your audience.

Here’s how we did it for a European speaker traveling to Atlanta, Ga., for a keynote address to senior management:

Speechwriting local detailsI must say it feels like a homecoming of sorts to be back here in Atlanta, and especially the great state of Georgia.

You see, I have fond memories of the Peach State because my father used to own a farm in Woodbury a couple hours south of here.

As a 10-year-old boy, I remember riding horses … branding cows … and playing cowboy.

For me, the farm was nothing but fun!

But for my father it was all work − especially after he learned you couldn’t make money doing the same thing every other farmer in Georgia was doing: raising and slaughtering cattle.

So my father took action.

He did something different.

He decided to convert our slaughterhouse into a Muslim slaughterhouse.

Now this made perfect business sense because my father had uncovered a niche market.

Atlanta had a fairly large Muslim community, and many Muslims will only eat meat that is halal, which means “permissible” in Arabic.

  • First, the animal must be slaughtered while it’s still alive.
  • Second, a Muslim must follow a ritual to perform the slaughter.
  • And third, all the blood must drain out of the carcass so no blood is left in the meat before it’s eaten.

I remember when our Muslim slaughterhouse was blessed and certified.

And practically overnight, my father began earning a premium for his cattle – and our farm started making money.

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Now I share this story with you not because I want you to stop everything you’re doing and open a Muslim slaughterhouse on the side!


I share this story because I believe it has some important parallels to our global manufacturing business …

In this case, the speaker had to reach back into his boyhood to make a tie to the local area, but he did it − and immediately created that all-important early connection with his audience.

(All we did was ask one simple but important question during the speechwriting process − “Have you ever been to Atlanta?” − and promptly heard plenty of stories about Georgia and the farm that wound their way into the rest of the speech.)

My advice to speakers: Always find a way to link yourself to your locale − wherever you happen to speak.