You have a presentation coming up...one you haven't given before...so you know you need to set aside some time to create it. You go through your mental check list...
Confirmed the topic? Check.
Composed an outline? Check.
Started designing PowerPoint slides? Check.
Decided where to include emotion? Hmmm.
Frequently we see content and emotion as competing choices. Either a presentation is full of meaningful content, replete with facts and supporting data OR it's a "make everyone feel good" presentation, short on real detail but long on platitudes. What we neglect to realize is that our audience responds to what they hear on both rational and emotional levels.
When I say emotion, I'm not talking about a gooey outpouring of emotional pap. Nor am I advocating you turn into a hyped up, game show host persona. I'm talking about connecting with your audience on a human level, appealing to their hearts as well as their heads.
According to USC professor of neuroscience and head of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute Antonio Damasio, emotions form a necessary part of almost all rational thought and in fact, play a central role in decision making. It has been said that logic leads to conclusions while emotion leads to action. And isn't action generally what we want from an audience as a result of our presentation?
It may be action to adopt a new policy, buy our product, agree with our idea or join our committee. Yet, too frequently we feel that showing anything other than a calm, reasoned, "professional" demeanor is not appropriate for a business presentation. We forget that our audience is comprised of human beings. Human beings who respond on various levels to far more than just the content they are hearing.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOOLS?
In any situation where you are speaking to others, words are only a small part of what you communicate. Tone, facial expressions, body language and eye contact all deliver a message as strong as or stronger than the words. These non-verbal cues convey a speaker's attitude, conviction, credibility and passion for the content. Your sincerity and enthusiasm inspire your audience. And an inspired audience is much more likely to buy into what you're saying and take the action you suggest.
HOW TO DO IT
Some of the same techniques that we have discussed here before are helpful in bringing some emotion to your presentation:
At the end of the day, it's not an either/or proposition between content and emotion. These two elements are like a dance...having all the technical steps down perfectly is merely the placing of the feet on the floor. It doesn't become a "dance", flowing and graceful, until the two partners put their heart into those steps.
So make your presentation dance across the hearts and minds of your audience when you combine emotion with your content.