April 2, 2012

"We don't deal with emotion"



"For Browning Allen, City Hall's head honcho when it comes to transportation planning, maybe it qualified as a nice-try-but-no-cigar moment.

In an effort to bring down the heat at a standing-room-only public hearing last Thursday, Allen cautioned the crowd crammed into City Hall's Public Works building to debate the traffic dangers looming on Milpas Street, 'We deal with scientific engineering analysis. We don't deal with emotion.'

I guess someone forgot to tell that to all the people there wearing white T-shirts bearing the photographic likeness of Sergio Romero, the 15-year-old kid killed last October while trying to cross Milpas Street." Santa Barbara Independent, 3/29/12

Don't think that, just because you're not speaking to a group as heated as this one, you're off the hook regarding emotion in your presentation. You may be a scientist, engineer, doctor, accountant, or lawyer (people who traditionally tell me it's unnecessary or undesirable to bring emotion into their presentations), but you are also a human being and so is your audience. Human beings have messy things called "feelings," and they do influence our behaviors, despite your desire for an alternative reality.

Always understand that your audience, while listening to your facts and figures, are experiencing feelings about your topic. Those feelings are powerful motivators; they make us take action in a way data and charts never will.

Also understand that you have feelings about your topic, and your feelings can be brought forth to influence the feelings of the audience.

Whoever your audience and whatever the topic, never forget the emotional appeal which allows them to connect with you.

Avoiding emotion in your presentation makes you look like you're out of touch, rigid, mechanical and, depending on the situation, lacking compassion and empathy.

Don't be afraid to be human. Bring the mess, bring the feelings, and you'll bring your audience along with you as well.

More posts about emotion and connecting:

Complete your presentation with gratitude

It's just emotion

If it matters to you, it can matter to your audience

There is no such thing as a dry topic

Only connect! 9 ways to do it

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