⚡️ Listening Age: How to explain nuclear fusion to a 9 year old

Ft. Prof. Anne White

Last year, Professor Anne White was asked to explain nuclear fusion to a 9-year-old. It took her just 7 words. Why? Because she understands that…

Analogies spark epiphanies

The ability to make complex topics seem both fun and simple isn’t just a rare skill, it’s an important one.

Talking about your work in a way that appeals as much to subject outsiders as it does your peers is a critical part of a thought leader’s job. Especially when addressing rooms with a wide spectrum of knowledge.

But regardless of who we’re communicating with, in each of us, there are three ego states that need satisfying…*

  1. The Child - who just wants to have fun,

  2. The Adult - who seeks logic and understanding,

  3. The Parent - who wants to pass on their learnings and experiences.

This is why I love Wired’s YouTube Series: One Concept, 5 Levels of Difficulty.

The premise?

World-renowned experts talking about their work to a child, teen, undergrad, grad and peer.

It is very hard to concentrate on what’s being said beyond teen level. I share this because the most engaging thought leaders in the world speak at a ‘Listening Age’ of just 12 years old.

In this 48-second clip, Prof. Anne White isn’t just speaking to a 9-year-old, she’s speaking to the inner child in us all. Here’s how she does it… 🍿

This clip highlights the power of analogy.

When you start using more of them, three things are going to happen:

  1. You’ll become instantly more engaging 😲
    Because you’ve lowered the listening age of your talk. The more unexpected the analogy the more memorable you will be. The best speakers are easy to listen to.

🌟 I put a star in a jar…🏺

Prof. Anne White
  1. You’ll stop over-explaining…🥱
    And they won’t get overwhelmed. The best analogies take care of all the nuance and complexities intuitively so that you don’t get trapped in the details. What’s more, by providing one we also save our audience from having to invest the mental effort of finding one for themselves.

What is it like?

  1. You will make your audience feel clever, quickly 🤓

    Analogies are the best way to level the playing field. Especially when we’re communicating to rooms of mixed expertise. Subject outsiders will appreciate the level up, while the experts will enjoy their field being talked about in a new way (they’ll also wish they came up with it!).

A final thought…

The right analogy opens the door to a completely new world. One that might have been seen as completely inaccessible up until now.

The best thought leaders are magnetic 🧲. Our job is to bring people into our world and when we can do that, we have the power to not just capture their attention, but create the change we want to see.


P.s. I need your help…

There are so many average public speaking resources out there. I want to create something so useful, that it cuts through all that noise and gives you a transformational impact. A silver bullet.

But in order to do that, I need to understand what’s stopping you from raising your game right now. So please do me a huge favour, and answer the following question:

What's the biggest challenge preventing you from using public speaking to transition into thought leadership?

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*This stems from a theory called Transactional Analysis developed by a psychiatrist called Eric Berne in the 1950’s.