When you need to change the delivery of your message to reach your audience

I want to tell you the story of a woman who instantly found herself having to change how she taught her audience in order for them to learn from what she was saying.

Sure, your experience is not hers – but we can learn from what she did.

We all have audiences that we send information out to in order to make them act.

Are you delivering that message in a way that will inspire them to do what you’re asking of them?

In case you didn’t know, besides my work as a media coach and public speaking trainer, I am a national television producer. I’m lucky to interview people and tell their stories.

I never knew Jane Elliott’s story before I started researching her. Jane was a school teacher and is now 84-years old. And… she’s not done teaching.

Here’s her story. You don’t hear my voice, but you hear the reporter’s (Jessica Gomez’s) voice. I was the producer of the piece.

 

Here’s a summary if you prefer to read:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr’s death. The civil rights leader was shot and killed while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. His murder set off days of rioting in cities across America.

Many lives were impacted, including the one of an elementary school teacher hundreds of miles away from Memphis.

Jane Elliott was a teacher in Riceville, Iowa. She used that moment to teach her third-grade students about discrimination by letting them experience it. Her method was dubbed the “brown eyed – blue eyed exercise.” It didn’t come without controversy.

She was going to teach something entirely different that day – but changed her lesson plans when she heard Rev. King was dead.

She knew her all-white class would struggle with understanding why so many people were upset about the death of this one man. In order to demonstrate, she told her students they would walk in the shoes of a person of color in the U.S. for a day.

She picked out a group of people “on the basis of a physical characteristic over which they had absolutely no control and assigned negative traits to them because of that physical characteristic and that physical characteristic alone.”

“Within seven minutes I had created a superior brown-eyed group who were convinced of their own superiority,” Jane said. “I watched blue eyed children who were good learners become unable to compete academically. I couldn’t believe it!”

She switched the room the next day, making the blue-eyed children superior.

Jane’s exercise made national news. She was even on the Johnny Carson show.

Jane didn’t stop teaching. She didn’t give up… even when parents started calling the school demanding her stop teaching the “brown-eyed blue-eyed exercise.

Jane was disowned by her own mother because of the negative attention. Her kids were beaten by the other kids in school and her parents lost their business. Her husband was told to “get his wife in line.”

She went on to become a sought-after national diversity educator and activist.

 


Kathryn Janicek | Media Coach, Producer, Public Speaking Trainer
Kathryn Janicek is a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with 20 years of experience working in newsrooms across the country. Kathryn coached talent, producers, and writers before switching her focus on helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Now, based in her home city of Chicago, she is a much sought-after media coach and public speaking trainer who will help you produce the best YOU. Click HERE now to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Kathryn.

If you’d like to learn more about Jane Elliott, here are links to more stories about her:

Lessons from The Crown: When You Shouldn’t Listen to People Around You

You must do anything you can to find out how you look and sound to your audience. NOT how people around you say you look and sound. Here is an example as shown in The Crown on Netflix.


I’ve been watching The Crown.
Have you seen any of the series? It’s on Netflix and follows Queen Elizabeth’s rise and rule.

In season 2, episode 5, Queen Elizabeth is criticized by a lord who’s the editor of a newspaper. He points out that her recent speech was tone-deaf.

The monarchy was stuck in the past.

The speech was not written by the queen, but by a bunch of old men who were not in touch with their audience.

Eventually, the queen reluctantly listens to the lord’s feedback.
It’s painful for her. She’s not used to this kind of help.

In the end, his notes made it easier for her to guide the monarchy in relating more to its audience (the people).

It was difficult for her to sit there and listen to the criticism, but she did.

She had to swallow her pride and for a moment, not take the counsel of the people surrounding her.

This is difficult for many leaders. But it’s key to building a business.

You must do anything you can to find out how you look and sound to your audience.
NOT how people around you say you look and sound.

It’s critical to take that information and see if you can alter your presence and image to reach more people, and keep your current audience.

In the Queen’s case, the advice originated from criticism written in newspaper articles.

She could have prevented that in the first place by listening to more forward-thinking advisors.

Sometimes your staff — the people you trust the most — are too afraid to tell you what you need to hear.

It’s not that they don’t care. It’s hard to tell your boss they’re boring, not transparent enough, has an outdated look, doesn’t do a great job on stage… and whatever else you should be hearing.

Many times, it takes an outside voice to break through and convince you of the tweaks that will help you become a more effective leader.

I would have loved to have been there to help guide Elizabeth II. Of course, I’m honored to help all my clients. Here’s a little more on why public speaking is the most important skill you need.

 


Kathryn Janicek | Media Coach, Producer, Public Speaking Trainer
Kathryn Janicek is a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with 20 years of experience working in newsrooms across the country. Kathryn coached talent, producers, and writers before switching her focus on helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Now, based in her home city of Chicago, she is a much sought-after media coach and public speaking trainer who will help you produce the best YOU. Click HERE now to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Kathryn!