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

What Sepp Blatter Did Right

The FIFA president gave a fascinating resignation speech after 17 years in the job, thanks to the recent indictments on corruption charges and no doubt some other things going on behind the scenes. Sepp Blatter was sorrowful, defiant, and unwilling to relinquish control – in the midst of his resignation he was talking about how FIFA needed to be re-organized as if he was the one to do it – but he… Read More

Does It Matter What You Wear?

Speakers frequently ask me about what to wear for their big day. My advice is always the same. Now, a study has come along from Abraham Rutchick, a professor of psychology at California State University, that adds a new wrinkle. First, there are the basic ideas I recommend that haven’t changed.

What Was That CEO Thinking?

What’s up with the McDonald’s CEO? Steve Easterbrook, the McDonald’s CEO, delivered a video statement to the business community and McDonald’s franchisees around the world recently. The result is a classic example of how not to do it. His performance is spectacularly awful on a number of levels. CEOs and communications people everywhere should watch the video as an object lesson in bad communications.

What’s the secret to learning?

What’s the secret to effective learning? That’s a question that educators, teachers, professors, researchers, and the Armed Forces have been asking for as long as there have been educators, teachers, professors, researchers and so on. It seems obvious that trying hard would be key to successful learning, doesn’t it? Surely the more effort you put into learning the better the result.

Can You Present Well Sitting Down?

One question I get asked regularly is about sitting down to present. If there are only a few people in the room, if it’s an informal setting, if we’re used to presenting seated, if it’s a board meeting and all the board is sitting, if I want to send out a casual message, if I don’t want to be too authoritative – then can I present sitting down? Often, the real reason… Read More

Comedians Really Are Better Talkers

Do you have the gift of the gab? Or do you struggle for words when you’re standing in front of your colleagues – or a conference full of expectant attendees? New research suggests that if you’re struggling for words, it might be because you’re going about speaking in the wrong way. A recent study of some real pros – professional comedians – found that they do indeed speak a bit differently than… Read More

Five Tips For Effective Communicating

I spent a day recently working with a team of people who belong to a part of the government that I can’t mention. But aside from talking about hamsters and flying cars instead of the real work they were doing, so that they didn’t have to kill me at the end of the day, the training focused on body language and storytelling as it usually does. And the concerns and struggles of… Read More

Intentional Communicating

I found myself recently talking to a group of Harvard students at the end of a daylong conference, trying to persuade them to become intentional about their communications. You might think that I was preaching to the choir – surely Harvard students are intentional about their communications, if anyone is – but I found the same basic surprise in the eyes of this audience that I do with most groups I talk… Read More

Making Business Relationships Work

In two previous posts I discussed some preliminary work I’ve been doing on the life cycle of a business relationship. I posited that the first stage, pretty clearly, is the relationship-establishing or deal-killing friend-or-foe analysis. In other words, neuroscience tells us, the first thing that people do when they get together is decide do I feel comfortable with this person or not?   Is this person a friend or a foe? The second stage… Read More