How well do you move hearts and change minds when you speak?

Most presenters forget that their job is not simply to explain something, it’s to transmit a feeling to their audience. Often, for business audiences, they feel nor face nothing much that is positive. They are under pressure, have too much to do, and don’t have much time to spare on you and your message; so it’s a good idea if you accept that part of your job as a presenter is to earn the right to be listened to.

Earning the right is often about leaving an audience feeling more positive as they leave the room, than they were as they walked in. To inspire them. To make the world, so full of dead ends, false starts and hopes, seem like a place where a happy ending just might be in their sights.

It’s really simple to understand how to inspire an audience, and only a little more difficult to do it:  Martin Luther King pointed towards a distant mountain top in his ‘Dream’ speech, and inspired a generation. Barack Obama turned a children’s TV catchphrase into a political campaign, when the whole world (bar the GOP) wanted to believe ‘Yes. we can’. So what do you have to do in your way to bring energy and impetus to your organisation? Simple –


  1. Represent the hopes, dreams and fears of the audience
  2. Be positive in all you do and say, even if there’s bad news, that’s not the end of the story, it’s your job to offer hope after disaster.
  3. Use metaphor, contrast and lists to show the possibility of moving from where you are now to where you’d all like to be.
  4. Treat the audience as, at least, your equals and set standards that are high for you and them to aspire to.


  1. Be physically expressive.
  2. Be vocally expressive and emphatic.
  3. Be certain in tone.

People actually want to be inspired. It’s the better than average speaker who realises this and does it deliberately, every time they stand up to speak.

This article is based upon credible psychological research done by Professor Chris Antonakis at the University of Lausanne, where they sought to test whether charisma could be taught.  The answer was a resounding ‘YES’.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


  1. David Wilks

    June 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    That was great. Many presenters that come to us to have their presentation designed are too personal with the material. The are “in-love” with their idea and don’t step back to see the whole picture. You are so right that they need to speak to the audience’s hopes, fears, and dreams. What excites them? What keeps them up at night.

    Sales letters are wrote to capture the reader in the same sense. You need to find that one emotion, one idea, one life changing gold nugget and exploit it. Put that idea, emotion, revolution in your audience’s hands. Make them picture themselves already there enjoying the benefits of the presentation’s big idea.

    Along the lines of charisma, I suggest you watch a preacher that is excited. They are not hard to find on TV or the internet. I, by no means, am suggesting any form of religion to anyone. I am suggesting a great learning case study. Watch a preacher that is incredibly charismatic. They over dramatize everything they do. You will even think to yourself “really? all that is necessary?” Well, when the camera pans out, look how big the crowd is. They keep coming back for the charisma. Now find how to add it to your personality because it is a skill that can be learned.

    David Wilks
    Creativity Engineer and Project Manager @

    • Jim Harvey

      June 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment and I love your work too! I think you’re right about preachers too. Any orator, actually. Love them. The passionate ones.

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