The Power of Positive Framing

When standing on stage or addressing a group, the words we choose can shape the perceptions and behaviors of our audience. Enter the power of positive framing in public speaking. Positive framing is a powerful tool because it magnifies the desired outcome over potential pitfalls.

The Paradox of "Don't:" Where Focus Goes, Energy Flows

When you hear, “Don’t think of an elephant,” you can’t help but think of an elephant. This exemplifies how instructing someone not to do something places the focus squarely on that very thing. Here are some examples to avoid in your presentations:

  1. "Don't worry.” By saying this, the audience becomes acutely aware of being concerned. A better phrase might be, "Channel your energy into passion."
  2. "Don't rush." This makes the audience hyper-aware of their pace, often causing hesitations. Instead, "Take your time to follow the steps," offers a positive action and is much more helpful.
  3. "Don't forget to prepare.” This raises the fear of forgetting and the command becomes “forget to prepare.” A more positive directive could be, "Remember that the power of preparation will build your confidence."

Why the Power of Positive Framing Works in Public Speaking

  1. Engages the Audience: Positive phrases are magnetic and pull in attention.
  2.  Inspires Action: Directing towards what can be done is more motivational than saying what not to do.
  3.  Builds Speaker Credibility: A speaker that focuses on the positive appears more visionary and forward-thinking.
  4.  Makes Messages Memorable: Positive framing leaves a lasting impression, prompting discussions and shares post-presentation.

The Power of Positive Framing in TV and Movies

WandaVision” (TV Show): Marvel's dive into the world of sitcoms and reality-bending narratives provided a unique platform to discuss grief, love, and identity. Wanda Maximoff's journey, while fraught with challenges, brings moments where she channels her emotions into powerful declarations of self-understanding and resilience.

   Quote: "What is grief, if not love persevering?"

"Nomadland" (Movie): This film, directed by Chloé Zhao, and starring Frances McDormand, paints a poignant picture of modern-day nomads. While it touches upon economic hardships and the fragility of life, it also frames such challenges within a narrative of hope, resilience, and the search for personal freedom.

   Quote: "One of the things I love most about this life is that there's no final goodbye.
You know, I've met hundreds of people out here and I don't ever say a final goodbye.
I always just say, 'I'll see you down the road'."

"Mare of Easttown" (TV Show): This crime drama miniseries, starring Kate Winslet, delves deep into the complexities of a small town and its inhabitants. While it's primarily a mystery, there are moments where characters rise above their circumstances, choosing hope and positive actions in the face of adversity.

   Quote: "Doing something great is overrated because then people expect that from you all the time.
What they don't realize is you're just as screwed up as they are."

"Ted Lasso" (TV Show): This comedy series on Apple TV+ has been a sensation, in part due to its overwhelmingly positive outlook. The title character, Ted Lasso starring Jason Sudeikis, consistently employs positive framing. His optimism in the face of adversity and his ability to inspire his team with uplifting and forward-thinking messages make the show a perfect example of positive framing in action.

   Quote: "You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It's a goldfish.
You know why? Got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam."

In Public Speaking: Lead with "Do" Instead of "Don't"

Directing an audience towards a desired action, thought, or emotion is far more impactful than guiding them away from the undesired. For instance, instead of "Don't rely on slides," advise "Engage with stories and eye contact." Flag your statements that start with "don't," and change them into what to do.

Closing Thoughts

Public speaking is as much about content as it is about delivery. Framing your message positively not only uplifts your audience but also empowers them. Next time you're preparing a talk, remember: inspire with what's possible, instead of what's to be avoided.

There's a profound truth in life: "Your life becomes what you focus on." When standing before an audience, this principle magnifies in importance. The words we choose can dictate not only our message's perception but also how our audience shapes their future thoughts and actions.

Join the Conversation!

We've delved into the transformative power of positive framing in public speaking and the ripple effects it creates. Now, I'd love to hear from you! Whether you've experienced the pull of a positively framed speech, have your own examples from film and television, or just want to share your thoughts on the topic, your insights add richness to this discussion. Drop a comment below and let's continue the conversation. Engaging with your perspectives not only deepens our collective understanding but also inspires others in their journey of mastering the art of public speaking. So, what's your take on positive framing?

About the Author

Hi! I'm Pam. I teach entrepreneurs to be fearless & compelling speakers online and in person and how to easily promote and run their own online workshops, webinars, and online courses. 

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