President Obama did something very important and powerful in his announcement yesterday about gay marriage. He talked about his family and, specifically, his children:
“There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
It wasn’t the first time. Here he is discussing the Trayvon Martin case:
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together … But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
He brings these big, thorny problems down to their most simple, fundamental level. He looks at the issues through the eyes of his children. And that is one great way to break through and connect with audiences.
It humanizes you and makes you and the issue you’re talking about more relatable. In what may be a hopelessly fractured culture, children are one of the very few things that actually bring people together.
Even those who don’t have children can relate. They have nieces or nephews or friends with kids or it just reminds them of their own love for their family or friends.
If you’re ever feeling stuck and unsure how to relate to an audience, whether in a presentation or at a networking event or a meeting, make it personal. Talk about what or who you love.