Unleashing Your Communication & Performance Potential



Speaking Secrets You Will Not Learn from a College Textbook


Basketball legend Michael Jordan mentioned in an interview that playing competitive basketball is “90% mental.” Jordan was the go-to player when his team was making a run to win in the final seconds of a close game. He was cool and focused. He exuded confidence and a “can-do” attitude that was infectious for his teammates. The exciting news for you is that the mental skills that made Jordan a winner on the basketball court are available to make you a winner on the speaking stage!


The most powerful tools I possess as a speaker are mind mapping skills and the ability to harness mental powers. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.” In this part I of Winning at Speaking with the Mind, let’s learn how to harness your most important power – the power of your imagination.


Maxwell Maltz, in his best selling book, Psychocybernetics, tells the story of his discovery of how imagination can affect reality. Dr, Maltz was a plastic surgeon. A young woman came to him to get an ugly scar removed from her cheek. After the surgery, when Dr. Maltz unwrapped the bandage from her face, he was excited to show her beautiful unblemished skin, expecting the woman to be delighted with it. Instead, she said, “But I still look ugly.” This episode and many others like it led Dr. Maltz to articulate the powerful connection between imagination and reality: If you imagine something vividly enough for long enough, what you imagine will become your reality. Let’s learn how to make imagination work for us.


Your imagination runs on six channels of perception: your five senses plus one more. These are seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), touching (kinesthetic), smelling (olfactory), tasting (gustatory), and the internal sense we can describe as “feeling.” You can use your ability to imagine to create the reality you want. The more vividly you use each channel and the more channels that you use in imagining a desired outcome, the greater will be your ability to attract that desired outcome to yourself. When preparing for a presentation, I use my visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and “feeling” senses to create a mental movie of me giving that presentation to the audience I’m expecting to see. The combination of senses creates a synergistic effect so that the combination is more powerful than the sum of the parts.


Try it. Think of an upcoming presentation. Create a mental movie about it. You are the director, producer, camera guy, and star, all rolled into one! In your imagination see, hear, and feel yourself and your audience in that setting having the exact experience that you want to have happen. What’s very important is that you must suffuse the imaginary experience with feelings.


Here’s an example of an imaginary scene that you can adapt to your own specific situation: “I have arrived at the hotel where I’m due to deliver my presentation. As I walk into the lobby, I see myself in a mirror. Wow! I look good! I feel so confident and ready for this presentation that I break into a smile. I have thoroughly prepared for this presentation, so I deserve to feel confident. When I enter the meeting room, I hear the voice of my manager calling me. It is a warm, friendly voice that goes with her welcoming demeanor. As everyone takes their seats, I take mine, feeling comfortable but focused. Soon I hear the meeting chairman introducing me. I stand up and straighten myself, feeling a warm glow of confidence and energy spread through me. I walk up, shake hands firmly with the chairman, and face the audience. I hold their gaze for a few seconds, establishing a sense of presence that gives me a feeling of control. All eyes are on me. Then the first words roll out of my mouth, just as I had planned. My voice sounds rich and resonant. My words are crisp and fully articulated. My gestures and body movement flow naturally as I deliver my presentation in a conversational but professional manner, commanding the attention of each listener. The opening captures their attention, creates relevance and leads into the topic. As I develop the body of the talk, I can see the listeners leaning forward, their eyes following my every move, eagerly catching every word I say. Some of them are writing down what I’m saying. My voice rises and falls in a natural rhythm. I feel so good that in addition to the humor that I had planned, humor spontaneously comes out of my mouth and the audience members chuckle and laugh, making me break into a grin! When I get to the serious parts, my voice changes naturally and the audience senses the changes as they too listen and observe with great attention. I can see heads nodding when I ask for affirmation and arms go up when I ask for that sign. Everyone is with me. Then I roll into the ending just the way I had planned. The ending is perfectly tailored for me to achieve the specific purpose of my presentation. As I conclude powerfully, the audience bursts into applause and I can feel the appreciation and gratitude for giving them such value! I exchange a warm handshake with the chairman who smiles and says, “Well done! Thank you very much.” I feel great as I take my seat. All that work was well worth it. Life is good!”


Here is a variation on the method I described above. It is shorter and yet can be even more powerful. I learned this method from Joe Vitale who explains it in his audio program titled, The Missing Secret. Joe Vitale talks about “Nevilizing your goal.” He quotes Neville Goddard, a great thinker and pioneer in broadcasting the power of human imagination. Neville Goddard said, “Assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled.” What that means is, imagine that you have already attained the goal that you want. Then vividly feel what you would feel if that were the case. If giving a great presentation is one of your goals, imagine how you would feel when you had given a top notch presentation. Let those wonderful feelings wash through your body and mind. You will then attract that reality.


I encourage you to apply the above imagination techniques to any goal, whether it be public speaking, a work project, sports, or anything else that requires performance. If you are very scared about public speaking, the only long-term “fix” is to learn to use your mental powers. This will not work overnight, but as you apply yourself over time, you may be surprised how easily your imagined reality becomes your actual reality. I welcome you to write to me about your successes at drdilip@centralpenn.edu.


Next month’s newsletter will include part 2 of Winning at Speaking with the Mind.


Winners of the Pause Contest from the August E-Newsletter

Last month I shared with you the text of the close of the speech that General Douglas MacArthur delivered as his farewell address to the cadets at West Point in 1962. It is one of the great speeches of the 20th century. I invited readers to review the text and insert in the script a little p for a small pause and a large P for a longer pause.


Congratulations to two winners! They are: Kanishka Jayasinghe and Sanjeewa Fonseka! (See their photos on the sidebar). They will receive Dr. Dilip’s popular recording, The Speaker’s Desiderata, and a DVD of Dr. Dilip’s signature keynote speech, The Path of the Genie, Your Journey to Your Heart’s Desire.


Here is the text of the close of General MacArthur’s Thayer Award acceptance speech at West Point the way he delivered it, with the pauses shown as p for a short pause and P for a longer pause:

“In my dreams (p) I hear again (p) the crash of guns, (p) the rattle of musketry, (p) the strange (p), mournful (p) mutter of the battlefield (P). But in the evening of my memory (p) always I come back to West Point (p). Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty (p), Honor (p), Country (P).

Today marks my final roll call with you (p). But I want you to know (p) that when I cross the river (p), my last conscious thoughts will be (p) of the Corps (p), and the Corps (p), and the Corps (P).

I bid you farewell.”

- General Douglas MacArthur

There was no official recording of General MacArthur’ speech. Fortunately a cadet recorded the speech on his private tape recorder. Listen to the recording of this speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwiCUzuUDDw


(Name the speaker)

  1. One of the USA’s most admired former First Ladies, this woman was appointed by the US President at that time to be a delegate to the UN General Assembly, where, as chair of its Commission on Human Rights, she played a major role in drafting the Declaration of Human Rights. Here is an excerpt from her speech given to the UN General Assembly in Paris. “Freedom for our peoples is not only a right, but also a tool. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of information, freedom of assembly – these are not just abstract ideals to us; they are tools with which we create … a way of life in which we can enjoy freedom …Basic decisions of our society are made through the expressed will of the people. That is why when we see these liberties threatened, instead of falling apart, our nation becomes unified and our democracies come together.”
  2. This remarkable leader rose in Britain when Europe was heading toward plans to introduce a single currency and establish a central bank. This leader spoke up for her country’s independence from European control. She expressed dismay that Europe’s political class was skeptical of capitalism, and she defended individual freedom and free enterprise. Here is an excerpt from her speech in Bruges, 20 September 1988. “It would be betrayal if, while breaking down constraints within Europe, the Community were to erect greater external protection… We have a responsibility… towards the less developed countries. They need not only aid; more than anything, they need increased trading opportunities if they are to gain the dignity of growing economic strength and independence… The fact is things are going our way: the democratic model of a free-enterprise society has proved itself superior; freedom is on the offensive, a peaceful offensive the world over, for the first time in my lifetime.”
  3. Mentored by Mahatma Gandhi, educated in England, devoted to India and her native customs, this man agitated for freedom of India from British rule. He became India’s first Prime Minister. Here is a sliver of his speech given on 14 August 1947, on the eve of India’s independence from Britain. “To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will and blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell. The appointed day has come – the day appointed by destiny – and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent.”

Guess the names of the speakers for the above quotations, and see bottom right column for the answers!


Dr. Dilip Abayasekara
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September 14:
Building Better Relationships, Workshop for Junior Achievement, West Shore Chamber of Commerce.

September 16:
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September 21-23:
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September 25:
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October 31:
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“You become what you think about.”

- Earle Nightingale


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Kanishka Jayasinghe

Kanishka Jayasinghe

Sanjeewa Fonseka

Sanjeewa Fonseka


  1. Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. Margaret Thatcher
  3. Jawaharlal Nehru


Hywel Williams, Great Speeches of Our Times.

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