Nicky Jam. Ozuna. Gente de Zona.
I am a huge Latin urban pop fan. I love dancing bachata to Dominican music. I listen online to a Spanish-language radio station.
And I have a celebrity crush on Grammy award-winning global artist Pitbull.
So when Pitbull recently hosted a weekend Caribbean cruise, I was on board. Literally. He performed at night on deck as we sailed under the stars. Sublime.
But what was almost as amazing as the experience he created singing, was the one he created speaking.
Pitbull gave a motivational speech on the last day in the tropical sun that had the crowd laughing and crying. He modeled perfectly the use of SHARPs. That’s the acronym for Stories, Humor, Analogies, References, and Pictures. It’s what we coach our corporate clients to do to make business communication memorable, influential, and even inspirational.
Pitbull talked about the story of his family’s escape from Cuba to Miami. Living in the ghetto, not exactly the American Dream they had all envisioned. The eviction notices, the food stamps. How he turned to drug dealing. And ultimately how music saved his life.
But Pitbull didn’t just rattle off these things. He made them stick. Here are three ways to punch up your message:
1. Be specific. Create a sense of time and place. Use people’s names. More than saying he grew up in Miami, Pitbull told us the exact intersection. The year was 1999. The teacher who spotted his talent and mentored him: Hope Martinez.
2. Be unexpected. Pitbull gave props to his single mother and the lessons she taught him. Then he said, with a well-placed pause, “a woman made me a man.” As an audience, that’s not what we thought he was going to say. He called music “the new dope. You don’t snort it. You listen to it.” Again, the surprise of that was provocative. “You know what‘s in the words can’t, don’t, impossible?” he asked us, with a playful grin. “Can. Do. Possible.”
3. Be passionate. Even the best words won’t be enough alone, though. You have to show the audience your head and heart are in it. Pitbull made us believe that he believed. How? Through behaviors for energy. Push out a strong voice, connect with your eyes, use big gestures for emphasis. Occasionally, slow down your speech so that your pace is as that blockbuster hit song says in Spanish…despacito.
We might not all be able to be pop stars. But with the use of SHARPs, we can make our content pop, like it’s off the charts.