Six Needs of Your Upcoming Audience

Tony Robbins is an American motivational speaker, personal finance instructor, and self-help author. In a LinkedIn post in November of 2014, he published an article entitled “The 6 Human Needs: Why We Do What We Do.” In the piece, he wrote, “While each human being is unique, we also share nervous systems that function in the same way. There are also six fundamental needs that everyone has in common, and all behavior is simply an attempt to meet those six needs.”

According to Robbins, those six fundamental needs are:

  1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
  2. Significance: feeling unique, important, or special
  3. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
  4. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability, or understanding
  5. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to, and supporting others
  6. Variety: the need for the unknown, change, and new stimuli

In your quest to move an audience closer to your cause, how many of these elements do you consider when preparing a speech? When listening to other presentations, can you identify these forces at work? Do you formulate your speeches and presentations with these essential ingredients in mind? Think about how you might improve your next presentation by addressing each of these areas. For example:

  1. Certainty: How can you make your audience more comfortable with you? How can you establish a sense of trust in what you are communicating so that all involved are comfortable and able to enjoy your presentation?
  2. Significance: Are you presenting your material in a way that causes participants to feel involved and like this information is pertinent to them individually?
  3. Connection/Love: How can you strip away the barriers between you and those you’re presenting to? How can you encourage more connection through content, participation, or subject matter?
  4. Growth: Are you introducing concepts that will make your audience’s life better/different/more interesting? There’s a way to make even the most mundane topics more interesting and applicable—it’s all in the presentation of that information. Make sure your message leaves participants feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to act.
  5. Contribution: Give your audience an opportunity to feel involved. Whether throughout your actual presentation or with strategic call-to-actions that give them goals or tasks to focus on after the presentation, help them feel like they can leverage your message to contribute to something larger than themselves.
  6. Variety: Do the unexpected. We change our clothes, eat different foods, and watch different television shows, all in the pursuit of variety. We strive to avoid monotony, recognizing just how punishing it can be. Yet we reduce much of our speech communication to buzzwords and bullet points.

Far too often, speakers forget to infuse their speeches with a human element—what Tony Robbins notes in his six fundamental needs. Approach these six needs as though your audience’s positive experience depends on it—it likely does.

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