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Contagious - for speakers

BITE-SIZED: Author Jonah Berger looked into what it takes to make an idea spread. He put it all in hi
Standing oration
Contagious - for speakers
By Kristian from Speakers Loft • Issue #14 • View online
BITE-SIZED: Author Jonah Berger looked into what it takes to make an idea spread. He put it all in his book Contagious - why things catch on. Here are the things that matter to speakers.

Think of the last tv-series you saw or the most recent book you read. What prompted you to do so? 80-90% of you will say that a friend, relative or co-worker, recommended it. 
Even with all of our digital thingamabobs, our googley docs, and our snappedychats, customers are created with trust. Trust only lives between people. 
(If you’re interested I’ll do an issue with numbers to back up this claim. Let me know).
“But Mr. Standing Oration-guy, it is simply going to take too long to win over customers one by one. I can never build a business that way. I need to eat today.”
“My name is Kristian, but sure yes, it will take time. But remember that every customer you convert will convey their trust in you, so third-parties that have not met you will also trust you. By proxy, so to speak. It will take time, but it is not as impossible as it looks.”
“… okay, if you say so. I’m not sure I believe you.”
Trust dwarfes any perceived advantage Facebook may give you. Photo by Marcos Mayer.
Trust dwarfes any perceived advantage Facebook may give you. Photo by Marcos Mayer.
Contagious by Jonah Berger
How to shape a message that grows organically is what Berger looks at. Not all of it is relevant for speakers, but make sure to put some thinking into at least the following critical components of your message.
As always, I highly recommend reading the whole book. Also, I don’t know Berger, and I get no affiliate money if you buy it, listen to it, or seek him out and pay him to spill the beans.
Here are the ingredients in a story that lives.
1: Social currency (make the audience look good)
People are social beings, and if your product can help them elevate their social status, then you’ve met this criterion.
If you, as a speaker, talk about how to avoid stress, sprinkle your talk with interesting transmission-prone facts, that can make the audience seem knowledgeable on the topic.
Or be sure to keep up with the newest research, so audience members will feel that they can spread some new light on an issue when talking to a friend.
To use this: always make it clear what you want audience members to tell their closest after hearing you talk.
2: Triggers
People need to know when to pass on your wisdom. Make sure your descent from the realm of the abstract into the more gritty reality of people. If you talk about handling leadership issues, like employees with destructive behavior, don’t talk about them like employees with destructive behavior.
Talk about ‘Suzy’ who always bad-mouthes people who are not present. Or 'Carl’ who never lets anyone finish what they’re saying in a meeting.
Or something else. It just needs to be specific and relatable. Then it will trigger.
To use this: make a list of the situations your customer mention as difficult and work them into your talk.
3: Emotion
Don’t be a robot. Passion sells, anger sells, enthusiasm sells. Boredom doesn’t. You need to work with arousing emotions - not just positive ones.
Also, remember that emotions are a powerful way of relating to your audience members. They are burdened with emotion too, and knowing that you tango on the same emotional palette, creates togetherness.
To use this: Emotions are like colors in a painting. Use contrasting emotion strategically to send your audience on a rollercoaster-ride. Make them happy, then sad, then awe them.
Contrasts make things more real. Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash
Contrasts make things more real. Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash
4: Public
Jonah Berger talks about an idea being public, as a central component of it being shared. Being public means that you can see people using the product. It is hard to see people subscribing to an idea.
While this is undoubtedly true, it may not be too relevant for speakers.
If you know how we can do this, let us all know on LinkedIn (LINK).
5: Practical value
Practical value is an individual aspect in Contagious. The product (or talk in our case), needs to have actual value for the audience member if the story is to live. To have practical value, it often needs to solve a specific problem. I would make the argument that this is a kind of social currency.
Either way, it is worthwhile thinking about the practical everyday use cases of what you tell people. Spell it out for them if you need to.
6: Stories
Telling your guys about storytelling is like preaching to the choir. I’ll limit myself to saying that this too has been identified as a chief component of contagious ideas.
Information is the blind passenger of a good story, according to Berger. I’d only add that all the above points 1-5 are easily transmitted through a great story. Really this just seems like a good way to wrap up the book - it is all in a good story.
That’s all for now. I wish you tons of success in your business pursuits and remember that you have tons of speaker colleagues. Remember to let us know what troubles you. We grow by handling the things that frustrate, annoy or confuse speakers. And for you, a trouble shared is a trouble halved.
See you with a new edition in a week. Thank you for reading.

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Kristian from Speakers Loft

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