Stage Time: "What Do You Think?"

By Darren LaCroix | Stage Time Articles

Do you know that when you give a speech, it’s much more than just a speech? Whenever my ego started getting in the way, my coach, Mark Brown, put me back on track in a powerful way. He simply reminded me, “Darren, you will get the privilege of seven minutes in 2000 lives, what will you do with it?”

Sometimes we think of it as “our” presentation. It’s actually “their” presentation. It’s also helpful to remember that there are people seated in front of you who are there for other purposes than the “intent” of the presentation.

Yesterday, I received this email from Les, who was in my audience in Pittsburgh a few months ago. (Shared with permission):

Hi Darren,

Thank you so much for being you! You gave a speech in Pittsburgh to Toastmasters a few months back. I bought one of you packs, with a DVD, CDs and book. It is not my goal to be a public speaker. I am a new publisher and author and thought I might find value in your teachings that could transfer to other communication goals. While you spoke about the focus on the audience and what they hear and want to take away really hit home. Customer service does not come intuitively to me yet I know it is the most critical piece of any successful business.

Prior to your speech I had a sticky note on my computer screen stating “You have just made my day. Thank you!” as a reminder to see through others’ eyes and to learn to make being gracious a habit. After your speech, I began writing “you” A LOT more, and after listening to one of the CDs I have added “Stop old habits” to the bottom of that sticky note. That one has been incredibly useful in time management. The “you” has really helped me find my written voice.

I am a better sales person; write better blogs, tweets, and speeches for writers and Toastmasters; and my fiction writing has even improved. All due to your wonderful message. Though I am still learning, please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.

With gratitude,

What Les took away was a powerful lesson I learned from Patricia Fripp. It was about the power of the word “you” when communicating. It first began with the awareness that Patricia created when teaching me to look at my “I/You Ratio” …meaning, how many times we say “I” vs. how many times we say “you” in a speech.

In my opinion, when we say the word “you,” it’s like reaching out into our audience and pulling them in. It engages their thoughts — which, these days, we have to do constantly while speaking because minds are so prone to going off on tangents if we allow them to be bored for even a few moments.

This was reinforced last month while speaking in Australia with Janelle Barlow, President of the Global Speakers Federation. She blew me away with her analysis of Barack Obama’s speaking style. She dissected the speeches of Hillary Clinton and John McCain the night President Obama won. She discovered that Clinton and McCain said “I” twice as much as Barack Obama on that same night!

Are you aware of how many times you say “I” vs. “you?” As Ed Tate says, audience members are constantly thinking, “So what? Who cares? What is in it for me?” Even in the District speech contest this last weekend, after a few of the contestants, people were wondering what was in it for them.

The first words in my winning speech were, “Can you remember a moment when a brilliant idea popped into your head? It was perfect for you.” I believe I said the word “you” or “your” 34 times in almost eight minutes. That’s more than four times per minute. Now, I’m not saying four per minute is the magic number — I’m saying just be aware of your ratio. I challenge you to listen to one of your speech recordings and count your “I”s and “yous.” It may just surprise you.

This doesn’t mean we don’t say the word “I” ever. We want to hear your story. We also want to know how we can relate to the lesson you learned and how we can apply it to our lives. It’s not your story — it’s about how your story can affect our lives. Remember, it’s not about “you” — it’s about “YOU.”

So, what do you think? Share your answers here on my blog!

Stage time,

Darren LaCroix
World Champion Speaker
P.S. LAST CHANCE to Sign Up! Finding & Honing Your Message (Friday) and Humor Boot Camp (Saturday & Sunday) with Judy Carter. Get details here!

I get emails . . .

This email came from Dale Smith, 1967 World Champion of Public Speaking.
(Shared with permission.)

1967 World Champion of Public Speaking, Dale SmithThanks, Darren!

You are so sharp and competent! I’m awed by your efficiency. How in the world do you keep so many ping-pong balls under water with just two hands?

What powerful and helpful sessions you orchestrated! I was sorry not to be around for the last one — I was teaching a Bible class in a small country church in Schochoh, KY (population about 35) at the time you were speaking, but I would have loved to have sat at your feet longer. You did help me make the drive (199 miles) back to KY safely, as I listened to your words of wisdom in the CD set I “won” as the newest Toastmaster. (Dale raised his hand when I asked who was a new Toastmaster. I gave him the prize.) Thanks a million.

Winning in Toronto has opened a lot of doors for me re: my passion of strengthening families and helping big people equip little people to reach their full potential. ( On the other hand, I have not been as wise or effective capitalizing financially as I should have.

You are an inspiration, and more than that, a valuable guide.

Thank you so very much!


You can email Dale:

© 2012, Darren LaCroix. All rights reserved.


About the Author

2001 World Champion Public Speaking, Keynote Speaker and Founder of Stage Time University.

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