I’m glad I was a delegate at the PSS 2020 conference in Delhi, this month. If I were to encapsulate what unfolded over two days, in three words, it would be – PSS – the “Power of Sharing Stories!”
Stories about creativity exploration, chasing ‘out-of-the-world’ dreams and realising them, and creating personal disruption, among many others, highlighted a very important aspect of communication – ‘Connecting,’ through stories. Not, as one may assume, to only grow business – but, to make a point powerfully, trigger thought, and become memorable.
I also learned about the importance and power of building human relationships, which begins with sharing. Listening to all the featured speakers, whether in keynotes, breakouts, or panel discussions, has taught me that being Honest – Authentic – Vulnerable – Enthusiastic as a speaker on stage, helps your audience H-A-V-E a great, shared experience. So, what did these effective communicators H-A-V-E that others didn’t? To expand on this, I felt that the more renowned speakers were –
Honest – They spoke from their heart, on topics that were close to their heart.
Authentic – They were themselves, narrating their own real-life experiences.
Vulnerable – They spoke about their failures, and the mistakes they made.
Enthusiastic – They delivered their message with passion.
Needless to say, your address becomes ‘infectious’ when you deliver it with honesty, authenticity, vulnerability, and enthusiasm – your audience catches your infection. This is one occasion in life when sharing an infectious message with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm, actually benefits people!
While most of us at the summit do aspire to become ‘Global Speakers,’ I realised, listening to so many international speakers, each with their own unique flavor, style and on-stage dynamics, that it was important to aspire to become ‘Global Connectors.’ While cultures around the world are different and evolve from native traditions, social customs and language, basic human responses to emotional triggers, feelings and needs are similar. Therefore, to address a wider, global audience, we need to touch upon timeless values and universal, easy-to-comprehend concepts and vivid, visual imagery – again, through shared, real-life stories.
In the hierarchy of ‘communication,’ which encompasses talking – speaking – communicating – connecting – transforming, the best communicators transcend from talking to transforming. This becomes even more relevant in business, since you are aiming to change your customer or client’s point-of-view, through sharing powerful, persuasive stories and case studies that capture both the mind and heart.
Very often, as speakers, we speak to inform, command, educate, inspire, motivate, persuade, or entertain. Rarely do we do all of that – and, the more memorable speakers at the summit did all of that.
Public speaking, like at a conference, is about public relations. From my experience, such summits give us the opportunity to get to know fellow delegates with whom you begin, some with whom you build, and a few with whom you bond – a relationship. Listening to the stories everyone shared about their life experiences at this summit, I got to introspect a little deeper than I may have done over the years, on three self-directed questions:
– Who am I? (How do I describe myself in two-three words?)
– What’s my core message to the world?
– How can I add value to others through my story?
For two days, at PSS 2020, I immersed myself in learning by diving into a knowledge pool full of big-speaker fishes from around the world – SE Asian, Russian, Dutch, French, African, American, and Indian! The smaller fish among the delegates would only have come out of the pool, more knowledgeable and enriched from the experience. As someone once said – “The human mind that has expanded with a new experience, can never go back to its old dimensions!” And what an experience it was!
Communication, whether corporate or personal, is about creating shared experiences with powerful takeaways for both the listener and the speaker, through the ‘Power of Sharing Stories!’ – And as Fredrik Haren so succinctly put it, “It’s not about you, but your message!”
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