We Humans Are Social Beings – and Why That Matters for Speakers

We humans are social beings; we share mirror neurons that allow us to match each other’s emotions unconsciously and immediately. We leak emotions to each other. We anticipate and mirror each other’s movements when we’re in sympathy or agreement with one another—when we’re on the same side. And we can mirror each other’s brain activity when we’re engaged in storytelling and listening – both halves of the communication conundrum. This view of… Read More

What a story is and is not – part 2

This is the second of a two-part post on storytelling — what it is and is not. As I said last time, connecting with another person is one of the highest forms of social being for humans. At the heart of it is good storytelling. When I’m telling you a story, and you’re engaged in it, you match your brain waves to mine. If I’m telling you a story with a familiar structure,… Read More

How Should You Gesture When Speaking?

How should you gesture in order to win the favor of the crowd, persuade the audience of your point of view, or appear most charismatic? I get asked variants on these questions all the time by speakers wanting to up their game, executives wishing to improve the odds of their success, and thought leaders wanting to get more attention for their ideas. The key to successful gesture is not what you think… Read More

How to use your voice for leadership

What’s the best voice for influencing others and dominating the herd? A recent study found that male horses with the deeper whinny appeal more to female horses and generally fared better in the DNA sweepstakes. Similar studies have found advantages of a parallel kind for humans. Researchers at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business analyzed speech patterns of 792 chief executives at major publicly held companies. Male CEOs with lower-pitched voices tended… Read More

How to Conquer Your Unconscious Fears

This is the final post in a series on putting your unconscious mind to work for you, rather than leaving the biggest part of your communications to chance – or letting your unconscious fears and memories hold you back. I am not a believer in that mumbo-jumbo from The Secret that says if you just believe that a million dollars will manifest itself in your pocket, it will. But I do think… Read More

How to train your brain for peak performance

So if we’ve got at least three brains and two of the three are busy sabotaging us at key moments of stress and performance, what can we do about it? What we’re going to focus on now is the unconscious work that you have to do to keep from giving up leadership automatically in those first few minutes of any conversation, meeting, negotiation, presentation, or high-stakes event, where the top dog gets… Read More

How Your Unconscious Mind Determines Your Communications

I posted recently on the dangers of leaving your body language to chance. I’m going to continue on this subject for a couple more blog posts. Your unconscious mind is busy 24-7 running your body, freeing up your conscious mind to think about things like the temperature of your latte and your Spotify playlist. That’s all good. But the unconscious mind also makes decisions for you and determines how confident or not… Read More

Communication is different now – part 2

The second in a series of three blogs inspired by Nicco Mele’s new book, The End of Big Twenty-first century communication has changed how we connect to the world in three essential ways:  connectivity, authenticity, and style.  I discussed connectivity in the last post; this post is about authenticity. Radical Authenticity Means Making What’s Staged Look Impromptu We want authentic people as leaders today, and what the world doesn’t realize is how… Read More

Communication and Brain Science — Part 3

The brain research of the last few years revolutionizes our usual ways of thinking about communications.  Here’s a summary of what the new science is telling us: We communicate more powerfully through our bodies than our words; Communication is mostly unconscious, and, unless we become aware of it because of some extraordinary moment or action, out of reach of our conscious minds; Our bodies tell us what to do and how to… Read More

Communication and Brain Science – Part 2

We humans are much more communal than we realize.  It’s something we’ve forgotten, as we tune in separately to our thousand channels of entertainment and news using devices that isolate us even as they offer pseudo-connections to the group through the music or the headlines or the games.  We remember our communality when we get together as a group to hear a speech or attend a concert or root for a sports… Read More