by Daniel Kingsley
“From the gut comes the strut, and where hunger reigns, strength abstains.”
“He spoke from the heart”, “He said that from his gut”, “She’s got her feet on the ground”.
Everyday expressions often have a meaning that we overlook.
I’m going to suggest that in the context of public speaking where you speak from matters and can make a big difference to the sort of connection that you make with your audience. And it’s also something you can easily practice.
Different speakers – different impressions
Groundedness, gutsiness or a warm emotional connection. I’m sure you’ve noticed some of these qualities yourself when you’ve been watching a speaker or a singer on television or have been on the receiving end in person.
Sometimes the person speaking seems stuck in their head and it’s very hard to make a personal connection with them. On other occasions, the person comes across very warmly and it’s easy to feel affection for them (singers who win TV talent competitions often seem to have this quality of easy likeability). Some speakers seem to be able to project power and conviction and almost conjure it from nowhere.
This is something that you can do, too.
Starting to make the shift
Our minds and bodies have the power to greatly affect the quality of our communication – only most of the time we are not feeding them the right information to work with.
If you are mostly concerned with the content of what you’re saying, you’re likely to be speaking ‘from your head’. What you say will have an intellectual quality, but won’t really engage your audience. You won’t be feeling it and they won’t be feeling it.
The first step in turning this around and speaking in a way that people can engage with, is to actually connect with your audience using genuine eye contact. This will start to get you out of your head and into a more authentic connection with the people you’re speaking to, whether it’s one person or a large group (I wrote about eye contact last time – you can find the article here).
The next step is to decide on the sort of connection that you’d like to make and see how simply setting such an intention can make a difference.
Public speaking “from the heart”
Believe it or not, if you put your attention on your heart and have an intention to ‘speak from there’, this is enough to enable you make the shift into giving emotional warmth and connection to what you say. You will probably hear a warmer tone come into your voice and find yourself more open to those you are speaking to, and in turn they will feel more open to you.
(Of course you aren’t actually speaking from your heart – the words still come from your mouth via your brain, but somehow this intention and attention of ‘speaking from’ does the trick of telling your brain what it needs to know in order for you to bring this dimension in).
If you want to convey more power and conviction in what you are saying, try speaking from your gut or from your belly. You’ll probably notice your voice comes out with additional “punch”, energy or force.
If you want to access a degree of realism and groundedness in what you are saying, try speaking from your feet.
Try it out by yourself or with a friend. See if they can guess where you’re speaking from simply by listening to you. Next time you are speaking in public, incorporate this awareness into your speech or presentation and see what a difference it makes.