H is for Heart and Head, Humor and Honesty

As you know, we continue our alphabetical count-down of communication attributes and skills. Today we focus on some key words for the letter H.

H is for…

Heart. When we focus on just the facts, we are missing such a critical element; the heart. Great speakers speak from their hearts. They have an attitude of caring about the content and the audience. They have a personal connection that can only come from caring. Keep asking yourself; why am I speaking rather than just sending the information in an email? What difference can I make? Why do I care, and why should the audience?

Head. The logical side must also matter. You may choose to use statistics, examples or testimony, but in each case select your facts carefully, quote them accurately, and spell out the “so what” of each piece of evidence. Don’t make the assumption that facts or statistics will automatically create the connections you are trying to make. And don’t rely only on facts and statistics, but balance them with heart or emotion. This is why stories and case studies are so compelling; they can blend fact and feeling.

Humor. The great speakers can find humor in nearly any situation, and they know how to use it deftly. If you can make your audience laugh in the first two minutes, you will probably “have them” throughout your presentation, no matter how serious the material. How to do this? Play with words, exaggerate slightly, laugh at yourself (gently,) tell a story or anecdote that gets a laugh but makes a point relating to the content. Watch how subtly and simply great speakers get a chuckle that brings the whole room together. And then practice ways you can do it that are authentic and comfortable for you.

Honesty. Remember how your children howled when they received a shot from the nice doctor? I think the howl was indignation as much as or more than pain. “You didn’t tell me this was going to hurt!” they seem to be saying. You can’t beat honesty. Your audience will probably sense that they aren’t hearing the truth. And they will resent you once they know the truth. You can try to sugar-coat it all you want. And you can downplay it if you dare. But speaking straight is probably going to be more successful in building trust in the long run. Yes, “This is going to hurt a little, but the outcome will be worth a bit of pain now.”

Are you speaking with Heart and Head, Humor and Honesty? If yes, let us know how this is working for you, and if not, start today. Yes, this is going to take some effort, but the results will likely be well worth your time.

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