The 8 Essential Principles of Great Communication

You only need to know 8 principles. You don’t need the hundreds of tips and techniques that so-called experts are selling.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve collected them all. I have a database with over 700 speaking tips, writing techniques, and classroom activities.

Some of their advice is good and some is not. In order to tell the difference you need to understand the principle involved. Why do the techniques work?

Understand the principle

Once you understand why the advice works, it becomes very easy to pick the right technique for the right communication.

Every time I learned a new technique over the last 25 years, I always tried to identify the principle involved.

I tried many different ways of organizing the principles into a communication system and it never quite fit, until now.Quickref

Finally, I’ve organized all my expertise into a system with just 8 simple principles. For more on the complete introductory training or to purchase the system go to

If you want the short version, keep reading.

The 8 SpeechDeck Principles

Most of my posts and articles on MichaelSpeaks reference the following 8 SpeechDeck principles. The color coding is used by the SpeechDeck system:

1Clarify your Content – Black

The black and white of your message must be clear.
No amount of “color” will help, unless your core message is simple, clear, and logically organized.
Because all communication starts with a clear message, this is the starting point for every client I coach, every workshop I teach, and every presentation I prepare.

2Inject Anticipation – Red

It doesn’t matter how clear your message is if no one is listening.
Anticipation is about getting the listener’s attention at each transition and holding that attention to the end.

When done properly, you can generate interest and make people listen to you (even if they don’t want to).

3Develop Relationships – Orange

To develop rapport with the listener, you must form and build relationships. Groups that already know each other well, may already share a group rapport.

This principle is most important when speaking to new audiences, attempting persuasion, or when audience analysis is paramount.

4Reveal the Messenger – Yellow

The quality of your message is largely based on the impression made by the messenger (you). To establish legitimacy, credibility, and authenticity, you must be yourself and share something of yourself.

This is often the single most important principle to transform ordinary communication into the extraordinary.

5Encourage Participation – Green

If a listener is not participating mentally, physically, verbally, or socially, he or she will not accept or remember your message.

Utilize interpersonal interaction to help the listener understand and comply with your requests.

6Empower the Individual – Blue

Your presentation must be made relevant to the listener. Empowerment includes personalization, self-persuasion, and eliminating obstacles that might prevent the listener from adopting your message.

Give the listener the power to agree with you.

7Manage the Theater – Indigo

Effective communication requires more than just words. You also must use the space around you.

This may involve slides, visuals, and body language. When done properly, you will continuously eliminate distractions and direct the listener’s focus of attention.

8Engage the Subconscious – Violet

A logical message is not enough. We only remember information when it touches us at an internal level.

Verbally you must provide the proper context,
but more importantly you must make a non-verbal, emotional, and non-cognitive impact.

What’s Next

If these principles seem incredibly simply, it’s because they are. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity.

Whenever you are in a communication situation and don’t know what to do, all you need is to check off each of the eight principles, to see which one fits your needs.

So far these 8 SpeechDeck principles have saved me 100% of the time. Every other set of principles I tried didn’t pass that test and I didn’t release them to the public.

These eight principles have been so successful, I’ve designed a complete training program and software package around them. To get the SpeechDeck Starter kit link to

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