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:
I 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.