In my workshops, we video participants sharing stories about peak experiences — the birth of a child or a conversation where they forgave someone or a brush with death — so they can see how powerful they are when they talk about what really matters.
Someone invariably asks: But what if you have to present something you don’t care about to people you don’t respect? And I ask: Why would you do that? And they say: Because I have to; it’s my job.
Talking about things that don’t matter is the practice of despair. Before we speak, lead a meeting or give a presentation, we must find a reason to care.
Power comes from caring: Caring pulls your thoughts together, sharpens your attention, attunes you to clues, fires rapid learning. Caring gives courage, makes risk worth taking, inspires bold improvisation — and so caring makes you smarter and more compelling, makes people lean in and think with you.
If you don’t care, you can’t be powerful, not in that sense.
Find a reason to care. Find a basis for respect. This is the most vital part of your preparation.
It’s how you learn what to say.