Friday, November 6, 2015

     Kudos to Steven Spielberg for another box office winner, Bridge of Spies. The Coen brothers once again bring history to life in this spy thriller starring the never-disappointing Tom Hanks. You will sit on the edge of your seat for the duration of this film as you witness the famous spy story of the Cold War unfold before your eyes. If you knew nothing about the Berlin Wall, you will watch it go up stone by stone. This story of intrigue and courage will keep you riveted to the screen. It is a must-see.

         As an aspiring public speaker and a passionate performer, I asked myself what drew me into this drama from the outset. Just as a public speaker needs to connect with her audience within the first few seconds, so must a film or piece of literature grab the attention of the reader/viewer immediately. In this case, as in many, we see and feel the vulnerability of the protagonist, so we instantly connect with his well-being. It may be his safety, his emotional well-being, the danger to which he is exposed. Once we make that human connection, and it must be within seconds, we are hooked. That is why as speakers we are
told to say something that connects with our listeners so that they feel the same fear or danger as we do.

     Last night at my Toastmaster meeting, a new member, a 25-year-old African American male attorney captured our attention in his opening lines:  “I hate statistics. I a not a statistic. As a young African American male raised by a single mother, I know that 72% of us will not finish school, will not succeed financially, will end up in some kind of criminal activity and risk death.” The audience is immediately captivated by this young man’s courage to stand up before an all-white audience and tell his story. We are connected emotionally because we already know that this young man is going to teach us something if we are willing to listen. Just as the viewer is shocked when the CIA agents break into Rudolph Able’s apartment and yank him from his easel, we feel his vulnerability even before we know if he’s really a spy.

    It’s all about the human connection. We can read it in books, we can see it on the screen, but we can witness it all around us, if we just open our eyes.