Do We Share Emotions – And Does That Matter?

An old philosophical debate asks the question, how do we know that our emotions are commensurate with one another? Meaning, can we tell if my experience of joy or sorrow is similar to yours? How can we tell if we mean the same thing by the words – or not? Philosophy has gone in two directions, roughly speaking. Either you argue that emotions are unknowable and we are essentially isolated from one… Read More

The Little Trick That Will Make Your Audiences Trust You

I am happy to report good news for speakers. A recent study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin offers a relatively easy way to increase your connection with an audience along one significant dimension. To understand what’s going on, it’s useful to know something about an older body of research on what’s important to audiences in speakers. What makes for a successful speaker, in short? The answer is two-fold: trust and… Read More

Five Quick Body Language Lessons from the First Republican Debate

I was going to watch the first Republican debate anyway, but when CNN’s Gary Tuchman called and wanted me to watch it with him and comment – in order to provide a 3-minute segment on Anderson Cooper 360 Friday night – well, that sounded like more fun than chewing marbles and I couldn’t resist. The grounds rules were no politics, no rhetorical analysis (because all rhetoric is political) – just body language…. Read More

How To Boost Your Memory – And Your Audience’s

First the bad news. Yoga does not significantly boost your memory. Very good for you in many ways – I practice it (a little, not enough) and recommend it to all and sundry – but not a memory booster. You’re waiting for some good news. It is this: you can boost memory significantly by engaging in proprioceptive activities. Why is that good news, for speakers? Because you can, by extension, boost your… Read More

A Simple Body Language Trick to Increase Your Audience’s Trust in You

I’ve written occasionally about the power of mirroring to create trust in human interaction. The reason is relatively straightforward – we are more inclined to trust people who look and feel similar to us, and that is precisely what you do when you mirror someone. Recent studies show that mirroring makes a sales pitch 20 percent more effective, and that in salary negotiations you can get up to 1/3 more by mirroring… Read More

How to Increase the Persuasiveness of Your Speaking

I was struck recently by a set of research studies that reinforced the importance of touch in persuasion. Touching people (in a safe place such as the upper arm) causes them to leave bigger tips, return lost money, provide help to strangers, sign petitions, and assign higher status to the person doing the touching. Touching someone twice increased the effects. That got me thinking about how the importance of touch might apply… Read More

Why Can’t I Leave my Body Language to Chance?

Regular readers of this blog (and my book Power Cues) will know that I’m an advocate for a version of mindfulness that involves first learning to monitor your own body language, then others’ and then controlling your body language in order to control the conversation you’re having with other people, whether it’s a meeting, or a presentation, or even a simple one-on-one chat. But why should you do that work? It’s unnatural,… Read More

How to Warm Up for a Presentation

Today’s the day. You have a presentation to give. It’s your biggest audience yet. The organizers tell you there could be as many as five hundred people in the room. You can’t afford to screw up now. What thoughts run through your mind? Will I screw up? Will it go well? What if the technology fails? What if the audience gets bored? What if they don’t laugh at my jokes? What if… Read More

Why You Should Become Intentional

Sometimes when I work with clients, there’s a moment when the full implications of what I’m asking from them in terms of intentionality become clear. Wait, you mean that I’m responsible for my body language from the moment I walk out on stage until the end of the presentation? Or, you mean I have to be conscious of my body language for the entire meeting? The shocked look in their eyes reflects… Read More

Why the Conscious Mind Is Mostly Illusion, and What that Means for Speakers

A new theory, just published in the journal Behaviour and Brain Sciences (Morsella et al., 2015), reaffirms what I argued in Power Cues: our conscious minds have less control over our lives than our unconscious minds – much less control than most people think. That misunderstanding is, of course, natural enough, since the thinking in question is the over-confident sense of control coming from our conscious minds. This new realization has important implications… Read More