Speaking Lesson from Meryl Streep
In her powerful speech at this year’s Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep recalls:
Once when I was standing around the set one day, whining about something, we were going to work through supper or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me: “Isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor?”
An actor’s job is to literally step inside the shoes of another – to become the character. It is the ultimate act of empathy.
Like acting, speaking also requires empathy. A speaker’s job is to empathize with her audience. A speaker will make the most impact on the audience by connecting with them – and by imagining what is must be like to be in their shoes.
How can you do that? By making one simple shift.
When preparing for a presentation or speech, the tendency is to start with the topic – with the reams of information you have at your disposal. Instead, begin your preparation by thinking about your specific audience. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What is at stake for them in hearing you speak? Let your answers to these questions guide your content.
From the Green Room: Speak with empathy. When preparing for a presentation, start with your audience. The more you can connect your content to your audience, the greater your impact on them will be.