I don’t know a lot about Tony Robbins. In fact, I first heard about him in a Bruno the Bandit comic where Bruno gets a Tony Robbins Bluebird of Happiness. (I loved that comic!) I know he is a motivational speaker and that makes me slightly paranoid about any talk of his.
That being said, I just watched a TED talk by Tony Robbins, the first in the 20 most watched TED Talks playlist on youtube.
And there is a lot for all to learn. He makes some interesting points on whatever and if you need inspiring, if you need motivation or the “why”, watch it with an open mind and find your new energy!
On a speaker technique level on the other hand, it’s impressive.
One example that struck me as he was saying it was around 4:35
But what people in this room know and what we have to remind ourselves though, because you can know something intellectually, you can know what to do and not use it, not apply it. So really we’ve got to remind ourselves is “Decision is the ultimate power.”
There are a few steps. First he separates the audience from the rest of society. You all know this, as successful people. Everyone in the room self identifies with being successful and being in the room.
Then he states that everyone here knows the next thing he’s going to say to be true.
He offers an excuse for those who don’t know this by saying we have to remind ourselves to apply it. That’s for those who temporarily forgot this truth.
Then he leads the way in reminding ourselves by saying “we’ve got to remind ourselves” (notice the “we”)
And only then he offers the new idea to the group. “Decision is the ultimate power”.
If he were to go to someone on the street and offer this golden nugget of wisdom, people would cut holes into the statement with questions like “what about poverty and personal limitations and luck and ….” But by framing it as something we already know to be true yet just possibly not actively have done, he bypasses all critical thought and embeds the concept in the mind of the audience. Nicely done. Then he continues, rapid fire, with examples and concepts so the audience can just believe that and listen on to the next point.
The entire presentation is very well built.
His opening lines are worth mentioning. He says he’s out of his comfort zone taking him to the level of the speaker, but a problem with doing that is that it erodes your credibility. He counters that on the other hand by establishing himself as a very serious speaker by telling the audience he’s used to giving 50+ hour seminars to enormous groups. He’s taking himself down to the level of the audience AND establishes credibility at the same time. Nice!
Great sidestep too where he says “I’m not a motivational speaker, I’m the why guy.” He re-writes his frame to something he invented and thus side steps the entire anti motivational pre conception.
Interesting also how he pumps up the audience into interaction. A first question to the audience offers lukewarm reaction, he calls the audience out on it, laughs a bit and moves on. All very positive, and an important step in getting the audience going. And after a while he uses this momentum to push ideas, again, past the critical thinking of the audience, into their mind.
Another interesting technique is the overspanning relation evolution through the talk. First he’s just this guy.
Then he makes himself loved. “You are all great, you are all smart, we are all smart, you are all awesome!”. He makes himself a part of the group, moving from the audience group to “we” in his speech. With notes of self relativation, because everyone is fallible and he’s not an asshole. He also actively loves his audience, the high five around 6 minutes is a great example! (Even though the guy isn’t that funny, said it twice and only got his moment because Tony gave it to him. He turned a potentially annoying guy into a big, audience unifying, help.) He also talks in extreme terms, words like idiots, etc. And when he laughingly calls the high five guy a “son of a bitch” around 7:55.
Next he moves away from that and becomes more abrasive. He tells parts of the audience that they’re idiots. At this point he’s established himself as a voice for the group. And he’s established that the group is good and smart and most in the audience are happy to be a part of that. Every audience member wants to be “good” and “smart” so when they are singled out to not be part of that group, they don’t like it and want to fix it. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you’re singling out a small or big part of the group, the fact that the voice says that everyone does that, is enough to trigger every member in the audience to want to belong, to fix it. Which you can easily do, by accepting (and doing) what the voice of the group, ie the speaker up front, is telling you to.
An example of this in a small scale (this is really a technique that builds throughout the talk and slowly erodes your critical thinking) is when around 11:39 where he “asks how many of you like surprises”. The audience reacts very eagerly with hands etc because pleasing the voice is good, yet the voice harshly declares “Bullshit!” and then pushes the ideas that “you call surprises you don’t want problems and you need problems to get anywhere”. Then he moves on because there is, again, nothing to win with people thinking this over.
And that is an awesome technique 🙂
It also incorporates the overspanning technique of stimulating you into an alpha state by overloading your brain with lots of information, by talking really fast 🙂 It’s the same alpha state the churches attain here, except that they do it by going really really slow and sedate, that’s that sleepy feeling you get while in there, yes thats on purpose.
I am duly impressed!
I’d go see him if he ever does a meta talk about his techniques!