Speak from the heart – and not just on Valentine’s Day

The GraduateValentine’s Day is upon us once again and the best communications advice for lovers must be to speak from the heart.

When we speak from the heart it’s as if we’re saying what we really mean or feel – a positive and intuitive act designed to achieve something that we passionately care about.

In Hollywood films, the hopeless romantics are able to win the girl if they can deliver a heart-felt speech, often delivered at the eleventh hour.

Technical deficiencies will be overlooked

In the movies, as in real life, the speech doesn’t necessarily need to be any good – at least from a technical point of view – to achieve its goal. If it is delivered with enough sincerity and conviction, any technical deficiencies will be overlooked.

Take Dustin Hoffman in ‘The Graduate’ for example. In this extreme case, he doesn’t even have a speech. He breaks into a church wedding ceremony, bangs on the windows like a lunatic, repeatedly shouting ‘Elaine!’ It does the trick though, and Elaine (the bride-to-be) flees her fiancé at the altar and jumps on a bus to escape with Hoffman. See the video here.

It works in business too

Speaking from the heart isn’t just for star-crossed lovers either. It’s for anyone who has something important to say. You could be speaking one-to-one or one-to-many, inside or outside of work. And you could just as easily be speaking at a business conference as you could a romantic meal-for-two.

Look at this video of a speech from Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft. During this business event he pushes speaking from the heart to the absolute limits of credibility.

Use of classical rhetoric

Speaking from the heart is a persuasive appeal to the emotions of your audience. It (hopefully) gives your audience a reason to listen to you in the first place. It should engage them throughout and leave your audience feeling motivated to action.

The ancient Greeks talked about ‘pathos’ as the element of rhetoric concerned with emotion, and Aristotle even detailed a plan for how you might go about using it most effectively as a technique.

The good news is however that you don’t need a knowledge of classical rhetoric to speak from the heart. You don’t even need any notes for that matter, and in many ways you’re probably better off without them.

So whatever you planned to say to your loved one this Valentine’s Day, consider throwing caution to the wind, tearing up the script and speaking from the heart instead.

And you may find yourself rewarded.

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