If I were to ask you when you last laughed so hard you thought you would die from lack of oxygen, or the last time you really cried with no abandon, or were so angry you would've given a two-year-old in a tantrum a run for their money, I bet you could tell me. But if I were to ask you when the last time you felt a bit average, a bit bored or just a bit 'blah' was, I bet it would be harder.
This is because emotions help make long term memories. There's a reason why we remember the first movie that scared the daylights out of us, or the song that was your first dance at your wedding.
Last year a survey was created that asked participants whether it was better to start a presentation by appealing to emotion or reason. Out of the 169 responses, 79% voted in favour of emotion, and 21% chose reason. Clearly we rate emotion highly, so why do we continue to create our presentations using information before emotion?
A fair chunk of the reason is because 'we have to act business-y in front of the business people'. We know we're presenting to a room full of professionals, and we want to be fully armed with information so we get taken seriously. We want to shock the audience with stats and facts and all because we want to portray ourselves in a certain way, in place of communicating effectively. I don't care how much you know, if you're standing in front of me listing off fact after fact and overloading me with information, chances are I'm going to stop listening – and I know I'm not the only one!
Instead of researching too far into the facts, here are some tips on different ways to approach presentations:
- Engage your audience by asking yourself 'what do they care about?' Connect with them emotionally by talking about something they care about and can relate to, before hitting them with the facts.
- Don't exhaust the audience by being over-enthusiastic about what you're presenting. It could come off as fake. Everything has its pros and cons, so don't hide the downfalls.
- Take your audience on a journey. Take them through a series of emotions, for example:
· Fearful (bring their attention to a problem, i.e. the cons of your presentation, as per the point above)
· Relieved (solution to the above 'cons' – your pros)
· Trusting (make them believe in your solution/company/product)
· Convinced (bring them on board with your idea/product)
- Authenticate your intention. If you're selling a product, have someone who has been affected by the product or is a representative for the product come and speak, or even have a photo and quote. Audiences react to stories about people especially if they somewhat know the person (from a photo or them standing in front of them).
- Forget all you learnt in school about talking slow in a presentation in order to make it to the required length – studies suggest that a quick speaking presenter is more persuasive than a slow speaking one. When you get excited and really know about a subject, you speak faster than if you're speaking just because you have to. It's a lot more engaging to listen to.
So, next time you have to do a work presentation, get emotional. If you're still not convinced – think about cars; BMW or Mercedes? Both have similar pros and cons, both (arguably) as good as each other. But at the point of decision you'll probably always just like one over the other, and that boils down to emotion.
Visit lifehacker.com to read up on more about how to appeal to emotions when giving presentations.