Connect with us

Business News

Why speaking from the heart is a recipe for disaster

Many public speakers say that speaking from the heart and not preparing for presentations is the best way to be authentic, but it is actually a recipe for disaster – and science agrees.



speaking from the heart

speaking from the heart

Speaking from the heart: a recipe for disaster

“I do best when I get up on stage and just speak from the heart,” said former athlete turned public speaker, Sammy Superstar, just this week after I was referenced to him specifically because of how bad he is at public speaking. Oh, the irony. It’s a good thing he didn’t adopt this approach to his sports career.

Rather than try to convince him, I simply wished him the best and made a note to inform my speaking industry peers about another famous person to never recommend for a speaking engagement.

Sammy Superstar is not alone. The myth that ‘preparation hinders authentic presentations’ is alive and well in our culture. It’s befuddling to me. Is there any other activity that people could claim that practice hinders performance? No? Then why would anyone think it’s true for speaking?

Here’s the actual truth: this idea is just an excuse for laziness. It reduces your impact, and it tells the audience that they weren’t worth your best.

Three attributes of a presentation you must prepare

Here are the three unique attributes of a presentation that ensure you are always better off prepared:

  1. The Numbers – A speech is a unique situation. How many times in life do you have the undivided attention of a large number of people? A speech is an opportunity to persuade, to be a catalyst for change, to move people. In fact, there is no other reason for a speech. When people gather to hear what you have to say, why would you not want to make sure you gave them the information that would most profoundly help them?

    And how can anyone possibly claim that additional time spent thinking about a speech wouldn’t improve the quality? You’ve got a captive audience. Imagine how much time it would take to deliver your message to each of them individually. Use that time to prepare for the one time you have them all together.

  2. A One-Way Street – In a conversation, we are constantly giving and receiving information while we talk and while we listen. We adjust our dialogue based on this feedback. If we are bored, we can change the subject. If we are confused, we can ask questions. Feedback goes out the window in a speech. Sure, great speakers can read audiences, but this is far easier said than done and typically involves a limited sampling rather than overall sentiment.

    The solution to the feedback problem is to structure your speech in a manner that keeps the audience engaged and allows for easy retention. Speech structure does not come ‘from the heart.’ What comes from the heart is passion. Don’t get me wrong. We want passion, but passion without structure leads to rambling and audience boredom. I hereby give you permission to be passionate about your message while preparing. Passion is not limited to the moments you stand in front of a crowd.

  3. The Amygdala Hijack – While it’s actually a myth that public speaking is the number one fear, public speaking does cause significant anxiety (for everyone… even those of you who claim it doesn’t). When we speak, audiences are deciphering messages through two channels- the words we use and the body language we display. Great speakers communicate the same message across both channels.

    When we don’t practice and prepare, most of us use our non-verbal communication channel to tell the audience all about the anxiety we are feeling. The body reacts biologically to this ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ situation by what legendary emotional intelligence researcher Daniel Goleman calls the ‘Amygdala Hijack.’ The bio-chemical chain reaction changes us in a number of ways. Of particular importance to the speaker, it reduces blood flow in the brain. This limits our critical thinking and communication skills. All this to say, ill preparation merged with anxiety does not enhance your likelihood to give a good speech.

How to keep the passion in your speeches

Wanting to authentically communicate from the heart is a good goal. It just doesn’t come through the method that most people believe it does.

A great actor will practice over and over again to create an honest portrayal of the character they play. If you are preparing to speak in front of an audience, the best method to ensure they receive your most authentic self is to prepare in such a way that you remove the consequences of an ‘amygdala hijack.’

As my longtime mentor Bryan Flanagan often reminds me, “Preparation makes up for a lack of talent.” I’m sure you are talented, but you are not talented enough to successfully wing a presentation.

Curt Steinhorst loves attention. More specifically, he loves understanding attention. How it works. Why it matters. How to get it. As someone who personally deals with ADD, he overcame the unique distractions that today’s technology creates to start a Communications Consultancy, The Promentum Group, and Speakers Bureau, Promentum Speakers, both of which he runs today. Curt’s expertise and communication style has led to more than 75 speaking engagements in the last year to organizations such as GM, Raytheon, Naval Academy, Cadillac, and World Presidents’ Organization.

Continue Reading


  1. Ken Brand

    May 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

    True. There is no substitute for a winning personality and perfect practice. #MoreAhHa

  2. halffiction

    May 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Agreed – though I once gave a presentation in front of a large group and wrote a word-for-word speech. I borrowed an iPad and installed a teleprompter program in it. When I went on stage, I realized there was no way for me to follow the teleprompter and advance my slides in Keynote, so I just winged it. In reality I wrote the whole speech off the top of my head, there was no reason for me to speak that way as well. So I’d call my approach somewhat of a hybrid but they key to success here is knowing your material well enough. Overall, great article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business News

Why the world is looking at HEB as the model for preparedness

(BUSINESS NEWS) HEB didn’t react quickly, they had been planning and putting processes in place for years. Businesses that want to live through hard times need hard plans.



HEB store front

In the midst of COVID-19, there seems to be a grocer retailer that should be recognized for how they quickly adapted their processes and supply chain as it relates to providing one of the most essential items we all need: groceries.

HEB is a regional grocer with over 400 stores in Texas and Mexico. In January 2020, they were recognized by Business Insider as being one of the best grocery stores in America. Now if you live in Texas for example, you probably have your own reasons why you love HEB (based in San Antonio, TX) but here are some reasons to truly appreciate their leadership, management and partners even more.

They actually have been working on their pandemic and influenza plan since 2005. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and surrounding areas extremely hard in 2017, HEB was instrumental in helping the communities to rebuild. They have done an incredible number of things like:

  • Implementing a Director of Emergency Preparedness
  • Offering raises to their store managers and employees (called partners) as a great incentive to keep up their great efforts and work
  • Allowed the partners flexibility in sick leave
  • Worked with supply chains early on identify areas that needed additional attention and how to still manage daily shipments of food and other grocery items
  • Put in signage in stores and setting up lines to help manage the amount of people in stores and the guides for social distancing
  • Adjusted store hours so that there would be ample time to re-stock overnight to meet consumer demands
  • Set limits on some items early on so that more customers would have access to those that they need
  • Continue to monitor the situation and adjust as needed
  • Received praise even from the popular Bren Brown about their Daring Leadership

While we continue to navigate what our day to day looks like, it seems like a great idea to take learnings from who is doing it well and give praise to those that are aiding however they can in this current climate and we are forever grateful for access to groceries, toilet paper and other things – thank you, HEB.

Continue Reading

Business News

34 places to find open remote jobs available now

(BUSINESS NEWS) With everything seeming in flux and uncertainty, there are still companies with open positions who are looking to hire people right now, so jump to it!



positions for hire

It goes without saying that these are difficult and unusual times. The number of Americans that have filed for unemployment has hit over 6.6 million and many more will be adding to that number in the coming weeks. In March alone, 701,000 jobs were cut by employers in the United States.

A Job Quality Index, developed by Cornell Law School and others, finds that 37 million jobs may be at risk. A

ccording to the study, “The list assumes that the COVID-19 crisis does not ultimately result in widespread, long-term, layoffs of goods-producing workers (i.e. that the crisis will be of modest duration). It focuses on those workers in sectors that are effectively being forced to shut down as a result of social-distancing recommendations or shelter-in-place requirements.”

While everything is changing around us every single day, something that remains a constant is a fact that people need money. Online businesses, delivery services, grocery stores, and the like are busy like they’ve never been before. As a result, a number of companies within these industries are looking to hire people immediately.

We even have our own Facebook Group dedicated to remote work, Remote Digital Jobs.

Check out the list below to see 34 companies or search sites that offer remote jobs currently open:

A Place for Mom
BMarko Structures
Bellhops Online Service
Dollar General
Kelly Services
Papa John’s
Pizza Hut
Rosetta Stone
UnitedHealth Group

Additionally, Get Hired via LinkedIn is continuously updating who is currently hiring. According to the description from curator Andrew Seaman, “Companies from industries spanning from technology to retail are hiring to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a regularly updated list of companies hiring right now.”

As noted, the list above are all companies and sites offering remote/work-from-home positions. The Get Hired list may include positions that require on-site work.

Continue Reading

Business News

Debunking ridiculous remote work myths (and some serious survival tips)

(BUSINESS) People new to remote work (or sending their teams home) are still nervous and have no concept of what really happens when people work from home. We’ll debunk that.



remote work

With an entire nation (or planet) moving to a remote workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re hearing some pretty wild misunderstandings of what remote work is, and how it functions effectively. Bosses are scrambling to buy up spying tech for some good ol’ hamfisted enforcement.

For those of us who have been remote for ages, it’s fascinating to watch the transition. And also offensive. People tweeting about getting to take naps and not wear pants. That’s not remote work, that’s just you being unsupervised like a child for five minutes, KEVIN.

I was chatting with my buddy Michael Pascuzzi about remote work (full disclosure, he’s a Moderator in our Remote Digital Jobs group) and despite cracking many jokes, we realized there is a lot of noise to cut through.

In the spirit of offering meat for you in these hungry times, Michael offered to put his thoughts on paper. And why should you listen to him? It’s because he has worked for several tech companies, both startups and enterprises including TrackingPoint, 3DR, and H.P. He currently works remotely for Crayon, a Norwegian Digital Transformation, and Cloud Services company. He holds an M.B.A. in Digital Media Management from St. Edward’s University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut. He’s also wonderfully weird. And a remote worker.

In his own words below:

So you’re working remotely now. Cool.

At first, it feels.. strange. But, as you get into it, you’ll get comfortable with your routine.

I’m sure you have a preconceived notion of remote workers. You probably thought this type of work was just for Unabombers and nomads. Maybe you don’t think you have a real job any longer because you’re doing it in your Underoos.

While, yes, working from home does allow you the option to work in your underwear, you still probably shouldn’t. There’s a lot to working from home and getting work done. You’re going to get a crash course in the coming weeks. I’m going to give you a leg up on your peers by telling you what you really need to know and what nobody else is telling you about remote work.

The following is a cheat sheet to getting ahead of your peers – and maybe make a case for you to continue in this lifestyle after the pandemic has subsided.

1. Working remotely doesn’t mean playtime

Right now, you’re roughly one week into your new working arrangement. You’ve got your table, your computer, and your whole set up. You’re also taking advantage of:
– The creature comforts of home
– Nobody looking over your shoulder

Irish coffees for breakfast, no pants-wearing, and naps during lunch are all available to you now that you work from home. And let’s not forget about #WhiteClawWednesdays!

These are all terrible ideas.

Here’s why:

If you come to a phone/video meeting drunk, we’ll know. If you’re on a video call with bedhead and a wrinkled shirt, we’ll assume you’re unprofessional. White Claw Wednesdays are probably okay in moderation, but taking a shot every time Karen says something annoying on a conference call is a bad idea!

Working from home should be an enjoyable and comfortable experience, but it shouldn’t be fun. It’s still work; and work sucks.

2. Working remotely should give you a better work/life balance:

Initially, you’ll find it hard for you and for your employer to separate your work hours from your life hours. Staying working only during your work hours is VITAL to keeping your sanity. Microsoft Office 365 has a tool that measures your wellbeing in “My Analytics.” Below is a picture of my wellbeing for this month. It’s not good.

digital accounting of wellbeing

The leadership team and managers at my company stress wellbeing. We take that chart seriously, and failing to have quiet days doesn’t make you look like a hard worker. Hard workers get shit done 8-5.

3. Working remotely also doesn’t mean firing the nanny

Working remotely doesn’t equal additional family time. Your work hours are your work hours. The pandemic quarantine doesn’t leave a whole lot of options for families to coexist without overlapping.

And it’s okay to occasionally have a “coworker.” But, you need to create your own private workspace within the hustle and bustle of homeschooling going on around you.

Here are a few more best practices you won’t read anywhere else:

You’ll need to learn to distance yourself from “work” when no longer at your “office.” This means powering down at the end of the day. Having a work/life balance when you work from home tends to swing in the opposite direction than you probably assumed; work can take over your life.

  • You’re going to have to turn off mobile notifications 100% of the time. It’s a pandemic, you’re not traveling; you don’t need them on – ever.
  • Turn off your computer at the end of the day. It’s good for your computer, and it’s fantastic for your mental health.
  • If your manager needs to reach you or you need to contact a direct report, just follow the wise words of Kim Possible: Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me.
  • You must wear pants. (FYI guys, dark leggings look like real pants and are super comfortable) Get ready for your day as if it were a regular office. Take a shower, shave, comb your hair, eat breakfast in the kitchen, wear jewelry. Look like you give a damn.

  • You must turn on your camera for video calls (and please don’t take your laptop into the bathroom. no field trips). Nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all communication. We need to see your face, your posture, your eyerolls.
  • All of your calls should be video calls. You’ll find you’ll miss humans if you do not see them daily.
  • Clean the room (or at least directly behind you). We shouldn’t see laundry and quarantine snacks in the background. We absolutely should never HEAR you opening a bag of chips.
  • Close your door. Kitchen, office, bedroom… whatever you’re using needs to be YOUR space. It’s your office. Your clubhouse. Only one Homer allowed.

And for the love of all that isn’t COVID, please wear pants.

More resources:

I’m on a team at Crayon that freely consults on working remotely and cloud technology. This isn’t a sales pitch. If you have questions or need productivity tips, you can always email my team directly at

Meanwhile, here are some additional resources to dig into:

  1. 20 tips for working from home
  2. Guide to engaging a distributed workforce
  3. Top 15 tips to effectively manage remote employees
  4. How to make working from home work for you

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!