Andrea's Story

by Dyane Neiman


Andrea was to give the opening keynote talk for an international conference. She asked me to help her with translating her German written ideas into English. Her speech was a great read, but challenging to follow as a speech, especially since most of her audience were non-native English speakers.

The best way to write a speech for the ear is to continually read it aloud: how does it sound? Is it the natural way you speak?

Right from the beginning of her talk, Andrea took off like a rocket into all the problems of her industry, the only problem was: she didn't have her audience on board yet. In the first part of any talk, you first need to connect to your audience by finding common ground: an idea, a question, a problem, a value, an experience - that you both share.

We spinned for quite some time looking for a way to connect before she went into her expert topic. Andrea found a ancient Chinese legend story she wanted to use as a beginning. The story wasn't working, something was missing - perhaps she needed her own story.  I asked her: "Andrea, did you ever experience a similar experience like the one in this Chinese legend?"  After some thought she told me about something that happened to her one day. The story was meaningful for Andrea and therefore: she could easily tell it  an authentic, convincing way. Unless your a professional actor, it is much easier for us to convey our own experiences than ones we hear about second hand. 

It was a very touching story about how things are not always as the seem. Wrong perceptions can lead to misunderstandings. I knew that Andrea now had an effective way to let her audience know: hey, I'm just like you. We both had this similar experience. Once we had that story the rest of her speech flowed together so easily.

After Andreas' conference I wrote to her and asked "how was it???"

It (keynote speech) was great!! I received a standing ovation!! Thanks a lot for everything!!
Dr. Andrea Hellwig., president of  AGTCM e.V., May 10, 2016