During a briefingiStock_000008434000XSmall session with a client last week to prepare for a presentation training programme for his team, I asked the question, “What should the participants be able to do (or do better) after the training, that they cannot currently do?” His answer was that they should be better speakers and presenters, able to get their message across and able to do it with heart. I probed a little so that we could set some specific goals – especially about what he meant by “with heart”.

It became clear that he knew exactly what he meant but found it difficult to find words that expressed precisely what he had in mind. A few adjectives were used such as “lively” and also the phrase “speak directly to the listeners”.  I think what he really means is “be able to connect”.  The ability to connect can seem somewhat intangible and may often be a matter for personal opinion. This might explain why our client found it hard to find the right words to describe it. In setting this objective for his team though, he has recognised that both the content level and the relationship level are important for success in communication. Our tip to participants is that truly connecting is best achieved by a mix of addressing the needs and interests of the target audience and being authentic. Being authetic means having the courage to open yourself up, “letting go of who you think you should be to be who you are”.  This quote comes from a very inspiring (and funny talk) by Brené Brown, to be found at TED Talks. I encourage you to watch – especially if the ability to make the connection and communicate “with heart” has so far eluded you.