You may have heard about her a couple of months ago when her widely-read online paper THE HUFFINGTON POST was bought by AOL Inc, and she became President and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group.
Well, my post is not to talk about AOL and/or Ms Huffington herself, but to show you the effectiveness of a sound content-message, in which words have been carefully chosen.
How to succeed? Get more sleep. Certainly the title itself is catchy. When reading it, one wonders how it is possible to be successful in life by having enough sleep. We are usually told that successful people have devoted themselves to working hard and giving up leisure or family time. If you want to be on the top, you must work up the ladder and it won't be easy. A visible instance of this is top-politicians; when they get into power their faces eventually start looking haggard with rings under their eyes, a certain sign of lack of sleep.
Ms Huffington delivers a brief talk (a bit over 4 minutes) that goes right into our inner feelings. She deliberately addresses the female audience with an interesting feminist message that goes away from the hackneyed discourse ¨we, women, are the same as men, therefore we have the same rights¨. Actually, she says the opposite: because we are different, we are better.
What's more, she does not use visuals, no ppt to enhance the content of her talk. The content of her talk uses the power of words and intonation to make it effective. She does this with the best technique: storytelling.
Her story has a personal drama, some research so you will become better, other characters humourously presented, not to forget the villains, there's also a time line with a past, a present and a future, and there's some learning to do in the hope that we will improve as human beings.
Her storytelling is imbued with simplicity and, yet, it is not simplistic.
Let's look at the use of adjectives, starting by the first sentence:
My big idea is a very, very small idea that can unlock billions of big ideas that are at the moment dormant inside us. And my little idea that will do that is sleep.
big / small / dormant / little / sleep
(simple opposing adjectives & the issue of sleep)
A pause, to let the audience take in what she has just said with the hope that it will raise their expectations to what she is about to say yet.
This is a room of type-A women... good address to the audience by praising them. Next she tells them a personal story to show her empathy with these great sleep-deprived women. Her personal story depicts pain, I broke my cheek bone bone, I got five stitches on my right eye,ouch! we only seem to learn the tough way. Then she backs up the story with some follow-up research. So, this happened to me, but it made me go beyond, illustrating myself with sound research so I now feel authorized to tell you why a good sleep is sound advice. A good bunch of positive adjectives the audience will surely like to feel as the definition of their lives, sort of the background music used in films to show the good moments:
And I'm here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.
She certainly delivers her message: a new feminist revolution so that we women will lead the way.
We are literally going to sleep our way to the top, literally.
We are set in a time line, with a past story, that of the Titanic, which is used as a metaphor to illustrate the recent present and its catastrophic consequences. Some of the characters have been named, Lehman Brothers. Men who brag their lack-of-sleep virility. Men who have led us to colliding into a crisis of unprecendented magnitude. Those men are the villains in our story. And we must learn out of this so that it will never happen again.
So I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us,
to shut your engine and discover the power of sleep.