You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a better rags-to-riches story than Oprah. Surely you’re familiar with some of it: Born into poverty to a teenage mother in rural Mississippi, she lived a life of brutal hardship, raped at nine and pregnant by fourteen (her child died as an infant). But in spite of it all, she preserved, landing a position as co-anchor of the local evening news at 19, which turned into an opportunity to host a daytime talk show, and as they say–– the rest is history. One secret to Oprah’s success is her ability to be emotional in the most genuine of ways–– an aptitude that goes hand in hand with being an excellent storyteller.
Proclaiming the Personal
Oprah has never been shy or coy when talking about her past. Indeed, she’s been the quite opposite. She’s as open a book as you can get, which is why her audience feels such a strong connection and bond with her.
She volunteers deeply personal stories about herself in order to form connections with guests on her show and to make them feel more comfortable. Oprah’s always been an extremely accessible figure because she’s told her story so openly and candidly. Reveal personal stories in your presentation to be more relatable and personable to the audience.
Master of Emotion
If you were asked to think of three words to describe Oprah, there’s a good chance ‘emotional’ would be one of them. To be sure, the woman is not afraid to show emotion. But what makes her display of emotion so compelling is how genuine it is. She’s up there crying, laughing, smiling, raging and it’s all real, it’s all sincere, it’s all authentic.
Emotion is one of the easiest ways to connect with an audience, and the power of Oprah’s gratuitous displays of emotion lies in the validity of them. When confronted with a horrific story, Oprah would react viscerally, candidly, similar to how we would react at home. And therein lies the connection: she reacts how I react, how you react, how he reacts. And thus, we trust Oprah, we listen to Oprah and above all, we truly like Oprah.
One of the coolest and most admirable things about Oprah is how real she is. There’s nothing fake about Oprah. She is who she is, and she doesn’t try to be anyone else–– an honorable feat in the mostly decrepit world of celebrity. She’s struggled with her weight over the years in a very public way, as the world watched it fluctuate up and down, up and down. But there’s a heady realness in that struggle; almost every woman can relate to it.
Oprah’s authenticity makes her an excellent storyteller because we have no reason to question or doubt her; we see ourselves in her. We believe and trust her completely, and thus we’re fully receptive to what she has to say.
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