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Speak From Your Heart Not Your Brain to Persuade

One daunting aspect of public speaking is the reality that you are not only talking to an audience which is scary in and of itself, but you are trying to connect with them in order to persuade. The key is that in order to do this, you need to become vulnerable and speak from your heart to persuade. That is, to let them into your world, into what you are thinking. If you let them into your world, they will let you into theirs, and you have a chance to win them over. It is a trade-off that few speakers are willing to make because their instinct is to never let their guard down or admit weaknesses in the facts that they are presenting. 

On top of that, it seems even harder to do because you perceive the audience as judging what you are saying and how you say it. If public speaking were just a matter of delivering memorized lines, the Academy Awards would be must see viewing in order to see the best actors and actresses delivering unforgettable acceptance speeches that they had memorized like lines from a movie. But very few of them are. One reason is that actors and actresses have not learned to be vulnerable when they speak in public. As Jane Fonda revealed, “People think actresses find public speaking easy, and it’s not easy at all; we’re used to hiding behind masks.”

Instead of speaking from the heart, most speakers spend all their time amassing facts to support their arguments. Then, they try to spin their arguments to persuade their audience. This belief is so widespread that it is carried out in courtrooms, workplaces, politics, schools and other institutions. How refreshing and rare is it for someone to get to the heart of the matter and speak the truth that includes admitting the bad facts at issue that go against your argument. 

For a case with any difficulty, you must speak with passion that comes from your heart and not your brain in order to win. Gerry Spence is one of America’s greatest trial lawyers. He tells the story of a lawyer who was struggling with how to speak from his heart. The lawyer explained that when he was younger, and did not know much technique, he won all of his cases. But now that he was older and had learned all the tricks of trying a case, he could not seem to win anymore. Spence explained why this lawyer was now failing where he once succeeded.  “Technique has little to do with credibility and therefore little to do with winning.” How do you do become credible? Spence explains:

We must argue from the place where the frightened child [within us] abides. We must argue from the place where the whimpers and wailing are held back, where the anger boils, where the monster rises up and screams, where the lover and the saint and the ancient warrior fuse. That is where we must focus, in that rare, rich place, that nucleus of our being. That is the magical place where credibility dwells. 

For your next presentation, don’t just memorize facts. Instead, be vulnerable, connect with your audience, and if you do, you will truly persuade them.