Make believe fairyRemember playing Make Believe as a child? For that moment, you really believed you were a pirate or a superhero or a fairy with wings.

Now, let’s be adult about this! But wait…Have you sat in a theater watching a really well done movie or play, and when it’s over had that strange feeling of returning to reality? In other words, were you transported, even for a moment, out of the present day and time?

That’s “Make Belief.” The actors, directors, writers, and others were able to engage you and make you believe that what was happening up there was real. Or at least, it felt real, even though we know on some level that we’re sitting in a theater watching actors dressed up as Alexander Hamilton or Superwoman. And yet we allow ourselves to get caught up in the message and the emotion of the story.

Belief is more powerful than knowledge

wonder womanInspirational leaders tap into belief, not just facts. Truly great communicators allow themselves to believe, to feel, and to commit to their subject on multiple levels. They show they truly care and therefore inspire others to care. (After all, why should they care if the speaker doesn’t?)

Don’t get me wrong. Facts are good. As a leader and a speaker, you must have good, solid facts to provide substance and credibility. But facts by themselves can’t truly engage or persuade. To “make belief” you have to believe, which means you have to get in touch with the heart and soul of your message. Then we’ll believe.


  1. Before preparing your talking points, be clear with yourself. How do you feel about this issue or idea? Why does it matter to you, your team, your organization, your future?
  2. Decide how much of your own emotion you want to share in order to express yourself fully and authentically while still being appropriate to the situation. Remember emotions are contagious. They’ll feel what you feel.
  3. Anticipate their reactions and prepare accordingly. Prepare and practice so you can speak with the appropriate balance of fact and emotion needed to win them over (or inspire them, or motivate them — whatever your purpose may be.)

Here’s the interesting bonus from these tips: If YOU were on the fence about delivering the message, you’ll feel more commitment and engagement yourself, especially from Tip #1, and therefore, you’ll do a better job. And that’s not make believe!