Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Dollar Signs" - Using Trivia in an Effective Way

This is a dollar sign $, right? Yes it is. That dollar sign is actually and historically a combination of the letters “P” and “S” which was the official abbreviation for “peso.” Yes, pesos were, until 1794, the principal coin in the United States circulation. After that, we began marketing our own dollars and just kept that dollar sign! Did you know that? Most people don’t.

Well, SO WHAT & WHO CARES? That’s right, you’re busy, successful, intelligent, active and aware. Why waste time with some obscure fact from 212 years ago? It’s a bit of totally useless information…unless you make it relevant to your listeners!

One of the past articles titled: “He Jumped Out Of An Airplane Without A Parachute” focused on how to get your audience’s attention by using a startling statement. This one, “Dollar Signs,” is focused on how to use seemingly obscure facts in interesting or unusual ways.

Let’s say your talk was titled “Dollar Signs” and after acknowledging the introducer and your audience, you made that trivial fact the key to your presentation opening.

You could say: “Right now a real peso, which is still used as Mexican currency, is only worth about ten or eleven American cents. And, you know what? Most Americans earn so little compared to what they should be earning they might as well be getting paid in pesos. During the next few minutes you’ll hear three specific ideas that can dramatically increase your income.”

Or, you could go in an entirely different direction with this as your next thought after the 1794 fact: “Right now in Arizona, it almost feels like Mexico, and our currency should be the peso—not the dollar. With thousands of illegal immigrants flooding our towns and cities, in the next few minutes I’ll offer you three specific suggestions on what you can do to help our state and our nation deal with illegal immigration, so your dollars don’t become pesos!”
OK, you get the point. Now it’s your turn. How can you take these trivial facts and work them into your next speech? Or just work them into an imaginary talk?
It’s great practice to help you move from “Good” to “Great.”
Here are a few examples:
1.    On average, a Twinkie will explode in a microwave oven in just 45 seconds.
2.    A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
3.    The man who commissioned the Mona Lisa refused it once he saw it.
Go ahead, do it! If you can, some big dollars can be in your future!

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