Koko the Gorilla died recently. Impressively, she could sign over 1,000 words and understand over 2,000. Like any child, young Koko began by expressing her wants and needs with simple signs including "me want," or "me hungry." Yet she moved on to more complex emotions, even commenting on death and loss with the passing of her kitten.

When we train speakers, we observe that current forms of expression have lost many of the visual cues, color, and emotional triggers endemic to primitive speech. Our clients often believe that left brain expression (i.e. statistical analysis, fact-based argument, or expertise) is more important than right brain expression: the whole idea, synthesis, or shared emotions and value systems. We have to reverse-engineer speakers to regain what they have lost.

As speakers and communicators, never forget that audiences need to see and hear your emotion, your skin in the game, your perspective, and the "why" of your talk. Audiences also need visual cues and descriptors so their imaginations are engaged. It's not easy, but the only way to hold their attention is to employ variety. Watch Koko with Robin Williams to brighten your day. We miss them both.

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