As speakers, we love to tell stories…

That’s because stories help us teach the lessons we’ve learned so we can do the work we love most… help people and transform lives!

Some of the most successful speakers in the world thrill audiences with their personal anecdotes.  

Honestly… who wouldn’t want to sit back and hear tales from the likes of Magic Johnson, Queen Latifah, or Oprah?

There are even some A-List Alternates whose story-based keynotes become viral video sensations.  

Think of someone like Inky Johnson (the collegiate football star who sustained a career-ending injury that left his arm paralyzed) or Amy Purdy (the double amputee Paralympian who competed on Dancing With the Stars.) 

I’ve seen both of them speak, and they do an incredible job of sharing their personal stories and the challenges they’ve faced.  They share their trials and triumphs neatly wrapped in deep life lessons.

In short… they’re awesome!

But, here’s the thing… If you're not Magic Johnson, Inky Johnson, or Amy Purdy, you may need to rethink your keynote and the content you pitch.

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Many speakers who try to dive into deep personal storytelling end up falling victim to one of the hidden phenomenons that plague stages across the land.

I call it “Audience Disassociation.”

Is Your Audience Rolling Their Eyes?

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Audience dissociation occurs when the audience members fail to engage with your message due to an inability to relate to the content or the emotions in the message itself.

(How’s THAT for a fancy definition?) 

I actually witnessed this exact situation last fall at a large event for travel and tourism industry insiders.  One of the speeches was supposed to be a wonderful session about how you can apply new skills in the industry…

… but it quickly turned into a bit of a joke.  You could practically hear eyeballs rolling in eye-sockets.  Honestly, it was pretty cringy.

I watched as many attendees who started the session interested and engaged slowly lost interest, got out their phones, and began scrolling through Instagram.  They were totally checked out.

The problem?

Many audience members I spoke to afterward complained about the speaker’s personal stories.  She had been trying to tell people how they could harness any viral success and leverage it to become famous, but most people had the same thought…

“Sure, sure.  This only worked for you because you’re ALREADY an influencer!”

Audience disassociation strikes again!

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