Mesmerise Your Audience within One Minute – The most difficult thing in any communication is to get people listening to you in the first place. Students fall asleep in school lessons. Customers avoid street promoters like ghosts. Marketing emails get deleted before getting read. All the above situations can be suddenly improved by one very simple idea.
I once attended an investment seminar where the speakers were two professional traders – people who made a living by speculating in the financial market. They both had proven track records of earning money for a long time. In addition, they also published books and DVDs that taught people how to trade successfully, and it was why they both stole a little time from the seminar to mention their products to the audience.
However, as the seminar went, I noticed a very interesting difference between the speakers.
The first speaker was very much like the typical finance people I usually saw. He dressed professionally in an expensive suit. He wore a luxury watch and a pair of metal-frame glasses. He told interesting stories and jokes, and made the audience laugh. In other words, he was a very entertaining speaker.
Then there came the second speaker, who was just completely different. One could see that his suit was a cheap one, which wasn’t very different from the staff in a hotel lobby. The most peculiar thing, however, was the way he spoke. His voice throughout the speech was monotonic, and you really couldn’t see any emotions on his face.
In other words, the second speaker didn’t appear as impressive as the first one, as if he was just randomly picked from the street in the very last minute. On the contrary, the first speaker was so presentable and photogenic that one couldn’t help but to like him at first sight.
However, after the seminar was finished, most of the audience actively went after the second speaker for his books and DVDs, whereas the first speaker was pretty much ignored.
Was it because the first speaker made a mistake in his presentation? No, he didn’t make any mistake at all. As a matter of fact, his presentation skill was much better than most other finance people that I knew. However, compared to the second speaker, he lacked one very important skill.
When the first speaker began his speech, he introduced himself in a methodical fashion. He first told the audience who he was, and how long he had been trading professionally. Then, he told people what he was going to talk about, and proceeded to analyze the market situation. Finally, he briefly mentioned the books that he wrote, and thanked people for listening.
Was there any problem with that? No. However, when you listen to the second speaker, you would know why it was inferior.
When the second speaker went onto the stage, he didn’t say anything about himself. Instead, he just began by saying something bizarre:
“Thanks for attending this seminar on the global market. I am sure that all of you are here because you want to learn something about the market situation, so that you can make the right decision in your investment. However, if it is really what you want, then it’ll be better to stop listening immediately, as you may lose money after I finish talking.”
Everyone was surprised by what he said, because you don’t often hear people talking against themselves as a way to begin a speech. Before the audience got an idea what was going on, he continued:
“I used to know an amateur investor called Michael. He said that, in early 2010, he attended an investment seminar, where the speaker said that Chinese mining companies would go up a lot. As you may already know, the Chinese miners did have a very great run in that year, so it was very sound advice indeed.
“Michael listened to the guru, and bought a lot of those companies accordingly. Surprisingly, Michael not only failed to make money, but also lost half of his capital in the end. It was really sad, because even though he was given a 100% accurate tip, he failed to make anything out of it.
“My point is: even if I give you a 100% accurate tip today, you may still end up losing money, because you may make the mistake that Michael had made…”
At this point, I noticed something very strange in the crowd. Some people had been playing with their mobile devices, or leaning back for a nap, but when the second trader delivered the above story, they began looking at the speaker and sitting up straight. You do not have to be an expert in body language to know that their attention was suddenly stolen by the second speaker.
What the second speaker did was very simple: he created what I call an “impossible situation”. The amateur trader was given a 100% accurate tip in the stock market, but he ended up losing money. How was that possible? It created an unsolved mystery which compelled people to keep listening until they had the solution. It was how he kept the audience hooked until the end. Later, at the end of his speech, he also used the same trick to make people curious about his products:
“… So, to conclude my speech today, you must shift your focus to the U.S. market in the coming year, because the big money is very likely to flow back to America. However, I would suggest you not to invest directly in the U.S. stock market, because there are 3 other asset classes which will do a lot better. It will be discussed in my new Investment Outlook Report, which will be given to you for free if you buy a copy of my book today.”
It was therefore not very surprising that, after the seminar had ended, most people couldn’t wait to ask the second trader how to buy his book, because they wanted to know how to earn money in the coming year.
I didn’t buy anything from the second trader eventually, but the time I had spent to listen to him was already a great investment. The lesson of the story is that, whenever you want to deliver any information to anyone, you must first arouse his curiosity and capture his attention, because only then your idea can be most effectively communicated.
To find out more tricks on how to persuade and influence people, please get a copy of my book, the Art of Influencing Anyone .