Back in high school, I had a fantastic economics teacher. He would always talk excitedly about the topic we covered in class, tell us related (and unrelated) stories, and show us current real-world examples of exactly what we were covering. You could just feel the fascination with economics oozing through his pores. Everybody loved him.
Then, one day, we got to a topic called “indifference curves”. And straight away, the teacher told us he really doesn’t like them. He dropped his usual excitement and only feebly attempted to joke around. For the next lesson or two that we covered this, the energy level of the whole classroom went down several notches, pretty much down to the usual dreary boring high school class levels.
I always remember this teacher not only because he managed to get absolutely everybody excited about economics… but also because I saw what a difference his attitude made on the one topic he didn’t like. I actually thought indifference curves were pretty interesting (I even drew a Chuck Norris joke relating to them in my notes), but his attitude just dragged the whole class down.
Funnily enough, most people act the exact opposite way. Most of the time, they make everything sound dreary and boring, and only occasionally get really excited about what they’re saying. Let’s change that!
Excitement is contagious
You’ve probably heard someone describe a topic in such a passionate way, you just couldn’t help being interested. Hell, I’ve heard a friend tell a completely fascinating story about making a tomato-lettuce-bacon sandwich!
Excitement is incredibly catchy! One of my favorite examples of excitement is FPS_Doug – thinking of this video always cracks me up, no matter how down I’m feeling 😀
When I was younger, I talked very monotonously, and didn’t let much emotion through. So even when I was talking about something I was absolutely passionate about, I made it sound about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Eventually, I took the time to figure out what makes interesting passionate people so interesting… and here’s a simple 3-step method to help you do the same!
How to get people excited about what you have to say
1. Pick a topic you’re passionate about
I could probably keep you entranced with stories and fun little experiments about psychology and the human mind for a good few dozen minutes, but ask me to talk about football, and I’ll put you to sleep faster than a professional hypnotist.
It’s all about picking something _you_ are absolutely passionate about. Yeah, I know, you’re always told to talk about what the other person is interested in. That’s great advice, but for the sake of this experiment, we’ll have you talking about something YOU love!
2. Find an interesting angle to explain it from
You can make anything sound boring. What if I told you something’s all about sitting motionless for an hour and a half, barely moving your arms, and occasionally wiggling your fingers?
Not too exciting? I’m talking about driving a Formula 1 race!
(…) Instead of lying or avoiding the question I exaggerate the answer. I dont say I’m a translator; I say that I bridge gaps between cultures — sounds pompous, but technically its true.
Instead of “Maths” you can say that you study the rules of the universe and the greatest achievement of mankind. You could say how passionate you are about particular specialities (e.g. how statistics comes up in such obscure and interesting parts of life etc.) and not use the word “Maths”, which they would associate with their boring secondary school teacher. I used to be a Maths teacher and always introduced my job with such drama that you’d swear I was a lion tamer…
You can make anything sound exciting if you pick the right angle to approach it from.
3. Put a LOT more excitement into your voice than you’re used to
Did you watch the FPS_Doug video above? When I first saw it, I showed it to some friends, and then we were joking around, running around, crouching and jumping, saying “BOOM HEADSHOT!” like Doug in the video.
Or at least that’s what we thought. But when a friend recorded me on video, I saw that I was actually saying more of a “boom headshot” as opposed to Doug’s BOOM HEADSHOT!!! YEAH!!!
Moral of the story? You’ll sound a lot less excited than you think. So don’t be afraid to go completely overboard at first.
In fact, do this exercise with a friend. You both find a topic you’re passionate about and an interesting way of explaining it, and then try saying it to each other again and again, getting more and more excited every time!
It’s hard to get excited by yourself, but once you start getting into it with a friend, you will just feed off each other’s excitement, to ridiculous proportions! Soon you’ll be saying things like “So you TOTALLY try differentiating the function and YOU’RE GOING ALONG THE X AXIS, going along the x axis and OH NO!!! there’s a discontuity at x=0!!! But WAIT, there’s hope…”
If you can’t find a topic that you find super-exciting that your friend would understand, then by all means, talk about brushing your teeth or something! You really don’t need an inherently exciting topic to practice this. It’s all about letting go of your inhibitions, and putting as much emotion as possible into your talking.
And that’s all for today. Go find a friend to do this with (feel free to send them a link to this article so they know what you’re on about), and practice the 3 steps. Soon you’ll get people excited about what you have to say just by opening your mouth!