Communication Skills: Don't Be So Cerebral

Randy Olson’s Four Organs of Communication

Analytical Appeal

/ONE The Head

The head is the home for brainiacs. It’s characterized by large amounts of logic and analysis. When you’re trying to reason your way out of something, that’s all happening in your head. Things in the head tend to be more rational, more “thought out,” and thus less contradictory. “Think before you act” are the words analytic types live by.

Emotional Appeal

Spontaneity and intuition reside down in these lower organs. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from cerebral actions. And while they bring with them a high degree of risk (from not being well thought through), they also offer the potential for something magical.

/TWO The Heart

The heart is the home for the passionate ones. People driven by their hearts are emotional, deeply connected with their feelings, prone to sentimentality, susceptible to melodrama, and crippled by love. Sincerity comes from the region of the heart.

/THREE The Gut

The gut is home to both humor and instinct (having a gut feeling about something). You’re a long way away from the head now, and, as a result, things are characterized by much less rationality. People driven by their gut are more impulsive, spontaneous, and prone to contradiction. Gut-level types say, “Just do it!” Things that reside in the gut haven’t yet been processed analytically.

/FOUR The Groin

At the bottom of our anatomical progression is the groin. Countless men and women have risked and destroyed everything in their lives out of passion. There is no logic to these organs. You are a million miles away from logic in this region, and yet the power is enormous and the dynamic universal.

In most organizations, the tendency is to generate content from the head, because rational, analytical thinking is trusted and rewarded. Most people shy away from the emotional regions (heart, gut, and groin). But these less rational regions are the source of the passions, hunches, and even scientific hypotheses that lead to the creation of big ideas.

If you want to communicate powerfully to the broadest audience, you must learn to communicate “from the bottom up.” Okay, sex appeal may not have a place in your presentation. But gut-feel and emotion definitely belong. Many decisions are made on instinct or from the heart, including the decisions of your next investor! But while it helps to move down from the analytical region, you shouldn’t abandon it completely. The analytical types in your audience will want rational proof, and if it’s absent, your credibility could be ruined.

What is it like to create presentations from your whole self—both analytical and emotional?

Begin by setting aside the spreadsheets and matrices and imagining what could be. Let your lower regions guide you on an exciting adventure. Don’t allow yourself to feel silly as you imagine the unknown. The ideas you generate may be riskier, but they will also be bolder, more innovative, and more interesting. Once you’ve explored this unfamiliar territory, use your head to analyze what you’ve turned up. As you proceed, move back and forth from the head to the gut to be sure that you’re achieving a balance.

Emotions and beliefs are masters, reason their servant. Ignore emotion, and reason slumbers; trigger emotion, and reason comes rushing to help.– Henry M. Boettinger