When we set out to become the best speaker or communicator we can possibly be, it can really pay to select some role models and learn from the best. Here, we take a look at Oprah Winfrey’s techniques and break down a series of tips and tactics straight out of the Oprah communications manual.
By Olivia MacDonnell, ConfidentSpeak
It’s hardly revolutionary to say it, but Oprah is one clever lady!
The American TV host—and, who knows, possible future United States President!—is one of the most influential communicators in the world, and her communication style has earned her the love of millions worldwide.
Oprah routinely shares great advice on becoming a great executive communicator.
So let’s see what she can teach us about effective communication.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 1: It’s a conversation
Lectures are boring whereas conversations are interesting.
So Oprah doesn’t lecture. Instead, she converses with her audience. If you listen to Oprah’s show, you feel as though you are talking to her one-on-one.
When presenting, this is the feeling you want to give your audience—make each audience member feel as though you are talking to him or her individually.
When creating your speeches and presentations, forget the big fancy words and the complicated terminology. Read over the script and make sure it sounds conversational.
Ask yourself simply:
Is this how I would talk to a friend?
After all, a speech/presentation is a simply a conversation you are having with many people.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 2: Open with a big promise
Oprah always opens her show with a Big Promise. She provides her audience members with a roadmap (an outline) of all the exciting things that will happen during the show.
To pick out just one example:
Today on Oprah, Dr. Phil will show you five easy steps to reigniting the romance in your relationships. After that, Suze Orman will show you how to eliminate all your credit card debt…
If applicable, then provide your audience with a quick outline of value that they are going to get out of your speech.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 3: Share personal stories
Oprah shares plenty of personal stories about her successes and struggles.
These personal stories create rapport with the audience.
Personal stories are interesting to listen to, and they’re also memorable.
When creating your speeches and presentation, see which personal stories you can use to back up your core message.
They add credibility to your message and make your speech interesting.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 4: Show your audience you’re just like them
By sharing her personal stories, Oprah managed to show her viewers that she was just like them.
For example, even though Oprah is a billionaire, her personal stories about her struggle with weight-loss made her seem like “one of us” and thus gave her the ability to connect with her viewers.
If you want to inspire people with your message, if you want your audience to connect with you, you need to make them feel that you’re just like them.
Share your successes, by all means, but make sure you don’t forget to also share your struggles…
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 5: Show them you care about them
Once you’ve established that you are just like your audience, the next step is to prove to them you really care about them and their problems, struggles and challenges.
Oprah made her viewers feel that she cared about them.
She did this by empathizing with their struggles and letting them know that she was facing those very same struggles.
When giving your speech, let your audience know that you care about them and then tell them why.
For example, you may have faced a similar situation in the past.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 6: Stand for something bigger than yourself
Your speech can’t be all about you. It has to stand for something bigger than yourself.
Oprah’s show stood for: “Live Your Best Life”.
What do you stand for?
And what value will your speech provide your audience?
It really pays to think about these questions before any speech, talk or presentation—and that applies equally to personal and business communications.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 7: Make it emotional
Oprah’s stories of struggles and successes were full of emotion.
Why is it important to invest your communications with emotion?
Because the truth is that emotion is the fuel that drives action.
If you want your audience to take action, then you need to use emotional stories that will touch them and inspire them.
The Oprah Communications Guide, Part 8: End with enthusiasm
End on a high note.
Make sure that when your audience leaves the room, they leave feeling excited and hopeful.
Craft the ending of your speech/presentation so that your audience leaves feeling hopeful about the future.
A quick recap of the guide to communications according to Oprah, one of the best in the business:
- It’s a conversation
- Open with a big promise
- Share personal stories
- Let your audience know you’re just like them
- Show them you care about them
- Stand for something bigger than yourself
- Bring the emotion
- End with enthusiasm
There you have it. The Oprah Communications Manual in a nutshell.
What elements of this do you think can you bring into your next talk, speech or presentation?
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ConfidentSpeak is a specialist S.T.E.M Communications & Coaching Consultancy based in Dublin, Ireland. We work with leading Irish and international companies and executives at home and abroad. Contact us for details on our range of corporate/private programmes for executives, sales teams and technical professionals.