LESSON 3: First five seconds, INTRIGUE!!!
“By the `steeds,snorting.
Striking sparks of fire.
And scouring to the raid at dawn.
And raise the dust in clouds the while.
And penetrating forthwith as one into the midst…”
If you were in an audience and heard these five lines as the opening remarks of a speaker who has been tasked to talk on “The Nature of Man”, what would happen to your mind?
Would your mind doze off? Or it’ll open its wires to see “where the train is heading”?
Because seriously, what do “steeds” A.K.A. horses, have to do with human beings? And where from the issue of clouds and dust? Just doesn’t seem to make sense.
Those are the exact observations that will trigger your brain “wires” to send a signal to raise your eyebrows, raise yourself a bit in your seat, and display a facial expression that reads “What the heck is he trying to say?”
What the speaker just did to you, is to arouse your interest and get your undivided attention. That’s what we call an intriguing opening.
But let me just be curious to ask; Have an idea about where this quote is from?
Naah…its not Socrates and Co.
It’s okay if you don’t; trust me, even if I saw this somewhere, I’d go like “Huhn?…Which Greek writer came up with that?”
The five lines are actually the beginning of the 100th Chapter of the Holy Qur’an (The Steeds). And so, we then get whom the quote is attributed to.
Yep…The Boss himself…ALLAH.
When we read the commentary of the Chapter, the chapter talks about the ingratitude of man and has within it stories of certain personalities who exhibited such attributes woven in between.
But the question is, why didn’t Allah just get to the real deal?
Its because of the results it yields.
When we reflect on Umar Bin Khattab’s (Blessings of Allah be upon him) journey to accept Islam, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he went through the opening verses of Surah Ta Ha.
It drew his interest; it awakened something in him that made him see that the message was too deep to be from that of man. The opening, was intriguing and eventually led him to accept the message of Islam.
Glance through your English Qur’an. You’d notice most of the chapters have a similar way of opening; that intrigue. It doesn’t just start like your usual “Once upon a time” when in actual fact, some of them are narrations of stories. Its gives you this kind of “What’s He trying to say? Hmmmmn” Your brain cells start “grinding” because you want to get to understand what the Surah is trying to say. Interest is aroused…and the mind is opened to absorb the incoming analysis.
Its simple; when attention is grabbed within the first minutes, everything else sinks.
It’s one thing to be confident and know your message, and it’s another thing to keep your audience glued to your message. That’s why you notice there’s a great speaker who’s got so much confidence, got a great message well tailored to suit his audience, and yet he’s just blowing you with the sleeping gas.
So, what makes the difference and how do you do that?
“Catch them young, and they’ll be yours forever”.
In other words, what you say and how you say what you have to say during the first minutes of your speech really matter. In fact, public speaking experts say that your audience take the decision to either listen or not listen to you within the first five seconds of your speech. And whatever decision they take, remains constant till the end of your speech.
Hence the way to keep them, is to get their attention as fast as you can. It’s just like the saying “First impressions matter”. As a Public Speaker, your opening is your “first impression” Lose it within the first few secs and you’re sure to hit lose half of your audience before you even get to the real content.
So, next time you’re invited as a speaker, don’t just start like everybody else; start with something that will make your audience wonder about what you’re really trying to say; something that just grabs them. Quotes and stories that relate to your topic of delivery do the job best. (It’s not just chosen out of the blue, it should go with the theme of your message) Stand in front of your audience. Smile slightly. Pause for some seconds, and pull out your “honeycomb”. If you’re a good reader of body language, you’ll be amazed at how that switches on your audience like a light bulb.
Next week, is my favourite, as we will look at how the Prophet Muhammed (Blessings of Allah be upon him) mastered and used this particular art. Its depth…you just can’t imagine.
Today’s lesson was from Allah Himself and the lecture notes, Surah Taha and Surah Al-Adiyat.
Hope you brought me the sandwiches I asked for.
See you at Kauthar next week, In Shaa Allah.