Tuesday, August 19, 2014


How do you get your listeners to remember what they decided to do as a result of what you said?

I gave a break-out session at the Toastmasters International District 39 Spring Conference entitled, “Lead Like Lincoln.” Toastmasters are into public speaking, into influencing behavior. I thought, “What can I get them to do so they’ll remember the commitment they’ll make after this talk?” After all, nothing becomes real unless/until it’s written down - “when you think it, ink it.” That is, the talk would be more memorable if audience members actually committed to do something as a result of what they heard. Initially I thought of saying, just before the very end, “Take out your cell phones; here’s my number, now text me the following: ‘I will…’ and finish the sentence with what you intend to do as a result of attending this session.” The problem: everyone except the very first caller would get a busy signal!

I think I stumbled onto a great idea. I bought 150 8 ½” X 11” phosphorescent yellow cards and cut each one almost in half [8 ½” X 5 ½”], and put a full card on each chair before they arrived. Then at the beginning I told them, “I’ll be asking you to write out what you intend to do as a result of this talk, but do it twice. You’ll leave one of the two halves on your chair for me and the other you’ll take home. You’ll have the whole talk to think of what you’ll be committing to.” Bright yellow, heavy-duty card stock, so they’d remember, and a written commitment to a stranger [namely, me] - that’d be two [admittedly small] reasons they’d actually do what they said they’d do.
The good news is, I got 70% to do what I asked!

Here are a few examples:
·      I will share the credit and [if necessary] take the blame.
·      Appreciate and thank people around me.
·      Develop my public speaking ability to positively affect people’s hearts and minds to encourage them to achieve their goals and aspirations.
·      Be a better listener to make sure my people understand the issues.
·      Thank my people for all they do.
·      Lincoln is the best we’ve ever produced – I’ll consciously choose him as a role model rather than settle for some second stringer!
·      Put more effort and energy into my leadership role as president of my local Garden & Arts Center.
·      Be a better parent.
·      I will thank my team more often.
·      Praise those around me.
·      Get ready.
·      Meet my staff members on their turf rather than mine.
·      As Area Governor I am going to visit my difficult clubs one more time, but with open ears this time.
·      I will master the art of persuasion.
·      I’ll stand taller.
·      I’m going to make my career the best career possible. [this person actually included his business card!]
·      I will thank at least one person every day.
·      I will not be afraid of
v Project management
v Writing summaries for the Medical Director
v Asking for help.
v Measuring performance
v Other people’s credentials

So, what do YOU think? Is the text message idea a dud? Or, is there some other strategy to impact more effectively my listeners so that change actually happens? Or, to refer to a Jack Nicholson comedy of a few years back, is this as good as it gets?

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