Public Speaking Speech Coaching

Head – Heart Connection

We all know the feeling of needing to give a talk or teach on a subject that we know something about but we may not know the subject thoroughly, or made it “our own” so to say. We are speaking from our “head”, going through the charts, bullet points, notes we’ve made for ourselves, and maybe even worrying that someone can see through your efforts and see you in not the best of light. Then a strange feeling can come about: the voice starts to shake, maybe the hands tremble, your breathing quickens and becomes shallow, and you may even feel you don’t have the breath to continue.

The above scenario may seem a bit extreme, but this is what actually happens at times to people. To add to this description, the “talking head” sounds uninteresting to the listener – monotone, little vocal variation, little or no key auditory clues for the listener on what is important such as word stresses, pitch modulation or even a timely pause. This is not ideal for speaker or listener.

Our voice and vocal patterning benefit from bringing the heart into the frame. It is our organ of being genuine, of relating warmly to a subject, to share enthusiasm and express it. In a sense, the heart warms the subject that the head can only grasp in a cold way.

The head-heart connection brings dynamism, warmth, modulation, interest, movement and a feeling of being grounded. A listener will rest in the speaker and their subject matter, catching the key auditory clues to stay actively listening. The listener will note the ease in which the speaker stands, gestures or moves about as they speak.

Sometimes a “gifted” speaker achieves this connection naturally. Many other times, though, it is hard won through multiple speaking opportunities. There are techniques that can be learned to strengthen the head-heart connection. These can include

  • “bare-boning” a talk (a process of simplifying the talk into 3 or 4 stages/steps)
  • letting the subject “sink down” by grappling with the concepts and making connections to everyday phenomena or your own life
  • developing a health breathing pattern so you can be in control of your breathing
  • be interested in not just the subject but the telling of the subject – which can be a bit like storytelling
  • and lastly taking on board the possibility of a heart to heart conversation between speaker and listener (because the listener is not just passive, they are engaged if you let them be).

Marrying heart with head will take away the tensions commonly associated with teaching or any public speaking. The speaker will walk away feeling refreshed rather than needing to rest afterwards. It will be fulfilling and enjoyable, much like the buzz a person gets from a sporting activity. When this connection occurs speaking itself can become effortless.

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Donald Phillips is a highly successful and experienced Speech Coach, Executive Coach and Therapeutic Speech Practitioner. Donald is based in Aberdeen but works across Scotland and the rest of the UK.