January 8, 2010

You can design, create and deliver a perfect presentation with an attention grabbing start, a well structured body and a clear call to action at the end but if you don’t put any emotion into it your presentation will not change anything.

You may have very strong logical arguments, you may even be right!  but if you don’t have emotion, if you don’t have a passion, if you don’t show that you care about the topic on which you are talking, your audience will not care either.

A common trait when giving a presentation is to become very formal. Some people put on their “presenting hat” and think “I have to do this properly”, “I don’t want people to see that I’m nervous”, “I need to speak slowly and carefully so that everyone can hear”, “I don’t want to say err or umm”. The problem with this approach to presenting is that in trying to do it properly they end up taking all the personal feelings out of the presentation, it becomes a presentation devoid of emotion.

Alternatively, some people intentionally try to remove any emotion from their presentations, particularly when they are talking on a technical subject. They feel there is no place for emotion in the subject or even no place for emotion in business.

I will say this only once, All presentation that lack emotion are boring!

To have any chance of making your audience believe what you are telling them, you have to believe it yourself and you have to show that you believe it. If you have an exciting new product, there is no point telling everyone it is “an exciting new product” in a monotone voice. You have to sound excited.

If you worry about the effects of global warming, you need to sound worried, not just quote facts and figures.

Not only do you have to be emotional as a presenter, you want/need to stir the emotions in your audience.

Rather than talking about for instance global warming abstractly, talk about how it may affect each and every member of your audience personally. What life will be like for their children and grandchildren.

History has shown time and time again, people are driven by their emotional needs. It is not always the technically best product that wins, or the cheapest, more often that not it is the product sold by the person the buyer likes most and trusts most. Why do you like some people more than others? It is certainly not down to logic and reasoning, it is about emotion.

The majority of presentations are forgotten, not because they were all uninteresting at the time, but because the speaker did not challenge our emotional state.

One of the easiest ways to conjure up emotions in a presentation is to tell a story, a personal story. When I run presentation training courses I often relate what I’m talking about by telling little anecdotes about presentations I have given or listened to in the past and the emotions that I felt at the time.

Not only should you start creating a presentation by thinking what you want your audience to do after the presentation, you also need to think about how you would like them to be feeling. Is it happy, reassured, confident, angry, determined, thankful, or any one of a hundred other emotions you can invoke.

In many respects this is the same argument as the difference between features and benefits. Most people will agree that if you are selling something you are better to focus on the benefits than the features. You not only need to present the features but tell your audience what they mean to them. Similarly, you don’t just want to argue the logical facts of your case but make your audience feel the emotions as well.

It is the emotional bond that you generate with your audience which will make them remember your presentation