“Connecting always requires Energy.”
This quote couldn’t be truer, and as proof of this premise, I offer you a look at the election cycle we have been witnesses during this past year culminating with last night’s President Obama farewell speech. The speech itself touched on many foundational aspects of our American values and what holds us together as a nation of diverse peoples living in a common land, each one in our pursuit of happiness and prosperity. Beyond that, what I noticed immediately was how effortlessly Obama’s spoke with a sense of purpose and capacity to connect. His ability does not come in a vacuum. As Maxwell said in the opening quote and chapter title, “connecting always requires energy.” So where was the energy evident last night?
When turning the clock back, the clearest aspect of energy investment was the speech duration itself. Historically farewell addresses have been short in nature, in fact, Obama’s speech last night was longer than the last three presidents combined as reported by The Washington Examiner. This effort speaks volumes regarding the energy required to deliver a speech that will resonate with your audience. Of course, his rhetoric was not weak either. We have come to know Obama as one of the greatest orators in current times, and it was on full display last night also.
Another element that communicates the investment of energy aimed at connecting with the American nation was the large-scale organization of the Address. The speech was delivered in a large arena with a capacity of 20,000 people. The event was brimming with enthusiasm, and this was evident to all the people observing the address from their TV’s at home, like me. The amount of coordination and resources necessary to pull this off are in stark contrast to the past farewell addresses with a more intimate orchestration taking place at the White House.
Finally, Obama decided to deliver his final speech in Chicago. He didn’t choose the nation's capital as previous Presidents, he chooses his hometown, where it all began. A battered city by violence in recent years that is in dire need of hope and attention due to all the tragic events that take place there on a daily basis. This was not only an effort to resonate and thank those who supported him during his initial years in the political arena but also to highlight and bring hope to where it is needed the most.
Energy is not a characteristic that President Obama shares by himself; energy has also been appropriated as one of the most salient features of the new President-elect Trump.
Since the dramatic start of the primaries race when he declared his candidacy among raucous and attention, Donald J. Trump has displayed an energetic demeanor and speech style that has set him apart many times during his political rise. He claimed to be the candidate with the most energy and displayed it as well. The result was an equally energized Republican base that came out to vote with total enthusiasm behind their candidate. This same energy also riled those who opposed his views, and it's on full display every time I tune into the news for a daily update during the evenings. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with his views, it is indisputable that Trump used his energy as means to connect with his audience, and that same energy carried him to victory this past November.
Energy is necessary because people see your investment in them and they naturally want to reciprocate. The effort that you put into preparing for an event or speech, even during a conversation can mean the difference between meeting the expectations and surpassing them.
Here some simple ways in which you can use effort and energy to connect with your audience:
1. Pay attention to the small details.
How do you feel when someone you don’t know too well and hasn't seen in a while remembers your name? This might come as something rather extraordinary to you, and just like everything that elicits a feeling of surprise it will catch your attention. That’s half of the battle when delivering a message, to get your audience's attention. Remembering names can go a long way to establishing a positive impression in people who we talk to.
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2. Take time to prepare and organize an event bearing in mind special considerations for your audience.
This comes to getting to know who are the people that will be attending your event. Do you have people with disabilities and have addressed their needs? How can you make this event comfortable and memorable for them and everyone else in attendance?
3. When delivering a presentation, pay attention to the actual design.
Many presentation decks fail to provide their maximum impact in the audience because they are just plain annoying. They were not built with the public in mind, but rather created as word documents on a PPT slide. The next time you create a presentation deck, ask yourself: Is this the most visually appealing format I can deliver? If the answer is: "not really", try to improve the aesthetics of your document. Your audience will thank you with their attention and receptiveness to what you have to say.
4. Choose your words carefully.
The vocabulary you use when communicating with your audience speaks a lot about who you are and the awareness you might have regarding the people who are listening to you speak. If you are an engineer explaining a new development to a city council committee, what words will you choose to reveal the details of this project? Do you think that you should choose the same words to explain the project to fellow engineers? Probably not. Choose words instead that appeal to your audiences needs so that you remain on a path of clarity and understanding.
Today is a new day for President Obama; he should feel good about the success of his farewell address last night.
Today is also a new day for you. How will you use your energy to connect with the people you meet today?