What we got here is a failure to communicate….

When Frank Pierson wrote this line for the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, he was concerned that it would be dropped in rehearsal and never make it to the screen. He feared the director would think, “It sounds too educated, too highbrow—a prison guard would never say something like that!” So Pierson concocted an entire “back story” about how, despite his humble background, the prison guard had pursued a program of adult education.

He needn’t have worried. Nobody ever asked about the back story. The director not only left the line in, he loved it. So did the audience, and so have audiences ever since. In fact, the American Film Institute voted these nine words as the eleventh most memorable movie quote of all time.

What made the line so compelling?

I asked John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus; he said, “That was the beginning of this whole era of communication and the realization that all problems basically come down to communication.”

I agree—and I think there’s more, too. The guard’s line didn’t just speak, it threw down a gauntlet. It represented the chasm between two men and the worlds they stood for, between oppressive authority and an irrepressibly rebellious free spirit. In the film, the last time the line is spoken, it is Luke’s final act—the moment he utters the words he is shot dead. What both Luke and the guard know (and the rest of us know, too) is that there is a great deal more at stake here than whether or not two people understand each other’s words.

And so there is in your business. There are dreams at stake—yours, and those of the people you approach.

When John Naisbitt coined the phrase “high tech high touch” in 1984, it was to point out that the more sophisticated our technologies, the more profound the consumer’s need for the human touch. But Naisbitt’s trend has another implication for your business: the better the tools you have to make your presentations for you, the more you are freed to focus on the human aspect of the interaction.

The critical skill in your business is not your capacity to reel off facts, figures and filibusters about your product or your company. It is your capacity to be authentic—to make a connection, share your excitement and passion. Your job is to connect and invite, not to present.

The idea that “getting good at network marketing” means learning how to be skilled at making a presentation is still the #1 misconception about this business, and it’s still shooting down dreams by the thousands.

What we got here is an opportunity to communicate.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor in Chief of Networking Times.