Reunion, Picture by Helen Bobis
Q. I am scheduled to speak at our next family reunion which will be over 500 people. I am wondering how I can make over 500 people feel I am talking to them as a beloved family member and not as if I am speaking in general to the public. I have never met half of these individuals.
A. Whether at a family reunion, a business meeting, or a Star Trek convention, every member of the audience has something in common with the other members: they're all somehow involved in the same thing - whether that's a TV series, a business, or a family.
These commonalities bring groups together. In this case, your speech needs to emphasize common family ties.
How? It's been said that between any two people in the world there are only 6 degrees of separation. You and a person chosen at random have at most 6 people between you two: you know someone(1) who knows someone else(2) who knows someone else(3) who knows someone else(4) who knows someone else(5) who knows someone else(6) who knows the person in question.
At a family reunion, everyone is connected by a much shorter path. Even if you only know half the people there, in that half are people who know the half that you don't know.
What does this mean to you? It means that you can talk about family members (especially the elder ones), and then everyone will feel that they are part of the group. When you tell that funny story about Uncle Bill, even people who don't directly know Uncle Bill will still know that they're included. When you talk about meeting a distant relative for the first time, the whole audience will feel that they are part of the same community that you are a part of - whether you know them or not.
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