to Z of Effective Presentations
Now on the letter "E" this issue looks at Emotion and Elephants
E is for Emotion
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 presentations that lack emotion
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
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
is for Elephant
Have you heard the phrase about ignoring the "elephant in the
room", when people are talking about a subject but not
mentioning one very important aspect. The analogy is as if your
were chatting in a room which also had an elephant in it,
without mentioning the very unusual fact of the elephant's
Don't ignore any elephants when you are giving a presentation.
If your audience are likely to have an objection to what you are
saying, don't ignore it and hope you get away with it, confront
it. By tackling the objection head on you will come across as a
more astute and trust worth presenter.
This is the second time through the alphabet for me, you can see
the previous E
for Enthusiasm and Energy and E
for Eye Contact on the
A to Z of Presenting blog
More new tips under the letter "F" in the next newsletter.