#70 Lessons from three little pigs on how to be a compelling speaker


The Pulitzer Prize winning poet Carl Sandburg, was asked the question once in an interview, “In your opinion, what’s the ugliest word in the English language?”


Carl frowned. “The ugliest word in the English language?” His brow furrowed… he stared off into space, “Ugliest?” he muttered to himself. “Ugliest. The ugliest word?” he asked the reporter.

He reflected awhile, face knotted in thought. After a long, pregnant pause, Sandburg’s eyes brightened and he focused in on the reporter, then said, “The ugliest word is – ‘exclusive.”

Today we are talking about how to be a compelling platform master, a speaker with true platform presence. This is one of the eight constant factors of being a platform master and what Carl Sandburg did, was compelling. He created, anticipation.

Sandburg’s choice of a word ‘exclusive’ is not the story here. It’s how he arrived at the story that’s most powerful. He created anticipation with effective use of pauses and repetition and physical reactions.

He didn’t just answer a question, he created a moment.

Creating anticipation – a moment – in your audience is what signals to your audience that you are a platform master. When we create anticipation, we turn our audience from being observers into being partners.

Instead of being passive listeners they become companions on a journey.

So, we are going to explore how you can create a ‘anticipation’ with your audience that results in a compelling moment they won’t forget.

A speaker who uses anticipation to compel will use inductive language, as opposed to deductive language.

What’s the difference I hear you ask. A deductive speaker appeals to logic while an inductive speaker appeals to emotions. A deductive speech appeals to rational thought and an inductive speech appeals to the senses.

Here, let me tell you a story that we all know end result of.

Here’s the deductive version… “Bricks are a superior building medium, as proven in the field.” Now, I can hear you mumbling… “What?” – raising your eye brows.

Now let me create anticipation using inductive language. “Once upon a time there were three little pigs. One pig built a house of straw while the second pig built his house with sticks. They built their houses very quickly and then sang and danced all day because they were lazy. The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks…. then along came a wolf!”

You don’t need me to go into the full story, you get the idea. By using inductive language instead of deductive language, you craft a message that transports the audience from observation to partnership, from being passivity companionship.

Using inclusion involves the audience in the journey. They come alongside, even when the answer is known.

But, what if the story had 5 or 7 or 11 pigs? What would happen to the tension being built?

This is where I would like to start our action point of the day.

To be a compelling speaker, you must learn to master creating anticipation with the golden rule of anticipation …restraint.

Remember the power of clarity uses simplicity… which means less words = more message! (You can find that in episode #66 ‘Impact… the secret sauce of public speaking.’)

When you are developing your message, shaping the strategy, imagining the build-up of healthy, vibrant tension between you and your audience… creating anticipation, crating the moment… make sure you use the twin tactics of inductive language and restraint… the moment… you will become a compelling platform master.

There is more to come.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

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