On 13th September 2004 on the season premiere of the 19th season of her eponymous show, Oprah Winfrey surprised 276 members of her audience by giving each one of them a Pontiac G6 car. You could do the same.
When my clients first come to me with concerns about their communication skills or fears about public speaking, they usually want me to help them with techniques or tactics to communicate better. I don’t do that… at least not initially. I come at them from a different perspective, which I want to try with you now.
Imagine you are Oprah back in 2004. You are about to step out on stage to present to your audience and you know that you are going to be giving each one of them a car. How do you feel?
In fact, far from being fearful or reluctant, I bet you can’t wait to get out on that stage and begin the show. I bet you are pumped and energised with anticipation. You’ll probably think of different ways you can spin out the moment, different angles you can take to really heighten the anticipation. You might even have looked into your audience to discover that there are a couple of families, whose lives would be changed dramatically by your gift (even if you know that they’ll probably just sell it for the cash).
One thing I bet you wont be thinking about, is yourself. You wont be worrying about what to do with your hands or whether you speak too fast, or what kind of animation to put on slide 13 of your PowerPoint.
Any nerves you have will be completely contained because your nerves will be basically irrelevant and subsumed by your excitement. Instead, you will step out on stage confidently, full of poise and authority, and you will speak with purpose and pride.
And the result will be a fantastic life-changing show for your audience that they will never forget.
Now, obviously you can’t give a car to each person you communicate with, and fortunately, you don’t have to.
The famous Oprah ‘car’ episode wasn’t so much about the car that Oprah gave away, but about the moment of unexpected and extraordinary value that she created for her audience (and if you weren’t there, you wish that you were).
And it is that ‘extraordinary value’ that you certainly can recreate for your audience.
So, from now on, before any moment of communication, whether that is a big presentation to a massive audience or a private 1-2-1 meeting with a client, ask yourself this simple question:
‘Dude, where’s my car?’
(which translated means): ‘What extraordinary value am I going to give to my audience today?’
Value can be anything as long as it represents something tangibly worthwhile for your audience. That could be a new way of tackling an old problem or a deep analysis of a new opportunity. It could be the right questions because you don’t have the answers or just your compassion and concern when you listen (because there is no greater gift you can give to someone than your time and attention).
Value is anything that elevates, surprises, teaches, motivates, challenges, inspires or in some way deeply impacts other people.
So, figure out what your car is and how to give it to your audience, and they will love you for it.