Going “beyond borders” is about connecting with audi- ences who are different from us. Although cultural differences can be tricky, they aren’t the only borders
that give us trouble. We all have invisible “internal borders” that can make
it difficult to connect with others.
Fortunately, the same communication
techniques can conquer both.
It’s not any one difference or
another that hurts our effectiveness,
it’s difference itself. When people feel
we’re different from them, they also
assume we don’t understand them. If
an audience does not believe that we
understand them or their business,
When you think of difference itself
as the problem, it’s easy to see how
many ways there are to get into trouble.
First of all, we’re speakers, and that
alone makes us different from almost
everyone in the audience. It’s also a
good reason not to talk about “speaker
stuff” (airline/hotel/taxi stories). Even
when it’s a good story, you’re still reinforcing the audience’s perception that
you live in another world.
Here are some tips for overcoming
perceived differences, no matter what
those differences might be:
about others, it shows our
interest and lifts them up.
Talk about Emotions
The ultimate antidote to perceived dif-
ferences is connecting with people at an
emotional level. When someone “gets”
us emotionally, differences don’t matter.
The best platform strategy here is to
talk about emotions; for example:
situations, no matter what their socio-
• “I imagine how frustrating that must
• “These are the feelings of pride and
satisfaction that come from a job
• “For me, the best part was seeing
how happy she was when it all
Reflect on situations when you have
sensed the audience becoming detached
during your signature story. If you’re
too close to the situation or your material, fresh eyes and ears will detect
disconnects that you missed. With fewer
disconnects, you’ll be able to go beyond
borders more easily and effectively.
Talk about Others
This sounds obvious, but one of the
best ways to stop highlighting our dif-
ferences with people is to simply stop
talking about ourselves so much. Even
though a speaker’s personal story can
add credibility, it can also make people
feel disconnected. But, when we talk
Note: This isn’t about being more
emotional, it’s talking about emo-
tions. Addressing emotions can help us
be more effective with any audience.
When we see a movie or hear a story,
we remember how it made us feel.
David Levin is the author of Don’t Just Talk, Be Heard!, and works with managers and executives who want to communicate more authentically and lead more effectively. In addition to
his work as a communication coach, Levin is
the co-author of the bestselling QBQ! The
Question Behind the Question, Flipping the
Switch, and the new Outstanding! 47 Ways
to Make Your Organization Exceptional, all
published by Putnam.