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How to Be Believed and Heard

Bert Decker

Bert Decker in his book You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard writes about the inner game of public speaking. He says you’ve got to understand the New Brain and the First Brain and accept the fact people buy on emotion and justify with facts.

Trust and believability are the keys to the First Brain, while logic and relationship are most important to the New Brain. As an example of First Brain performance, watch how an infant learns to trust. The First Brain is innocent, open, irrational, and quick to form judgments.

A speaker needs to know how to address the First Brain to be heard and believed.

Speech Techniques that Connect with the First Brain

Eye Factors

Eye communications: connect for the confident 5 seconds; this is the First Brain’s #1 sense.

Posture and movement: stand tall in ready position (weight forward); move 2 steps from lectern and keep moving.

Dress & appearance: dress appropriately and get feedback.

Gestures and smile: find your nervous gesture and stop it; learning to smile not with lips but by raising the cheekbones; practice exaggeration; get big with your gestures.

Energy factors

Voice and vocal variety: the voice components are relaxation, breathing, projection, resonance

Practice relaxing head/neck, shoulders, face, and lips

Diaphragm breathing (hands on lower ribcage, breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth)

King Kong exercise: mouth open; step down, last Bong 3 syllables; relax, open wide in a yawn

King Kong

Ding Dong

Bing Bong

Project from diaphragm, reading text with varying pitch and pace

Words and pause

Avoid nonwords; paint word pictures, don’t use clichés and jargon that are meaningless to the First Brain.

Listener involvement

Use drama: make striking statements, tell a story, and use your voice

Eye communications


Use visuals/demonstrations

Ask questions


Don’t tell jokes

Fun is better than funny

Find humor that works for you – and ALWAYS smile

First Brain Fears

Greatest Fears (in order of fear from The London Times)





Deep Water



Why Speaking? – Fear of exposure (physical or mental); ridicule, failure; these fears exist despite the fact that we succeed the vast majority of times.

Putting the First Brain under Control

“I know I’ll always be good, but I never know whether the angels will descend.” ~ Robert Fripp.

The mind [first brain] cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and one vividly imagined. ~Maxwell Maltz

Visualization: The best way to affect the First Brain – addresses psychological, emotional, and subconscious mind to synchronize with the goals of the New Brain.

Principles of Visualization:

Make it Real – uses your 5 senses.

Make it Positive – practice a positive experience from execution to results.

Make it Regular – practice daily; begin with putting the mind at ease at bedtime.

Apply it to All Things – make visualization a habit for all planned events

Being a Responsible Communicator

Effective communicating is the opposite of manipulating; your aim is to focus on being natural and believable rather than speaking with packaged deception; make contact with First Brain but don’t override its natural protections.

Being a Wise Listener

Don’t trust first impressions.

Compare your hunch with the facts.

Deciding by hunch is no substitute for due diligence

Separate hopes from hunches

Put hunches in the mix with other data

Dealing with Difficult People and Situations

Practice Listening to Acknowledge – Feeling Listening

How to do it:

Ask question why person feels that way, probe gently and sensitively

Respond with empathy, push
yourself to understand

Listen to yourself, what is your First Brain saying?

Continue questions and holding empathy until you sense a soothing moment of acknowledged feelings

Focus on the other person from an outside position, be an objective 3rd party.

Deal with facts and circumstances after feeling are acknowledged by both parties.

If you think person’s feeling are not valid or not based on reality that is not the first issue while you are listening; get to the feelings first.

The willingness to authentically listen is one of the greatest gifts one human being can give to another.

The heart has its reason which reason knows not of. ~ Pascal

How to Think on Your Feet

  1. Be In the Moment the essence for improvement
  2. Pause – trust the power of your mind
  3. Prepare – develop a pool of ideas, information, facts, stories, case histories focused around your Point of View
  4. Exercise – a practiced speaker is rarely surprised.

Summary of steps to speaking agility

  1. Don’t read the speech; use your mind.
  2. Have a strong POV.
  3. Trust your mind, let ideas come freely.
  4. Be in the moment; pause, prepare to change.
  5. Don’t worry about transitions, let them come naturally.
  6. Be as confident as a child.

The Book in a Nutshell

  1. Think First Brain – understand it and use it.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses – Learn them from feedback and videos.
  3. Focus on one skill at a time – Use deliberate practice.
  4. Speak at every opportunity
  5. Get Feedback
  6. See yourself on videotape
  7. Take risks
  8. Just do it

I recommend reading this book and visiting Bert Decker’s websites to learn more.

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