Three Ways to Harness the Power of Emotion in Communication

As a presenter, we have all experienced it; the blank stare and the glazed-over look of apathy. We have seen complacency in the faces of the audience and felt it as the mood wafted its way to the podium. 

Audience engagement isn’t only about the strategic placement and organization of our content, or the quality of our graphics. Effective communication is not just about what you communicate, but also about how you communicate. It is about the capability of a presenter to incorporate key placement of emotion within content which will captivate audiences.

The intent of incorporating emotion is not to shock an audience; rather it is about a connection. The emotion-driver must be appropriate to the message you are delivering.

How do you make emotion appropriate? There must be an innate connection in the emotion stirred and the content of the messaging. The story must be relevant. A great example of the utilization of emotion to connect with an audience is a TED Talks by Frank Warren (VIDEO), in which Warren effectively impacts the audience through his ability to connect with them. His emotional connection inspires attention, engagement, and responsiveness from his audience.  

According to Decker Communications, a communications training company, people buy on emotion and justify with fact. And we do. We remember the commercials that draw out an emotion in us; laughter, sadness and empathy, to name a few. These advertisements work because of their ability to harness the power of emotion. 

Warren is able to establish emotional connection with his audience in three key ways:

1)     Visual – he applies real, applicable visual representations to support the story and emotion he is trying to convey.  Show and tell.

2)     Delivery – he delivers just the right balance of emotion to make it memorable; his message is consistent with his delivery. 

3)     Designing an experience – the audience will remember the message, long after the details of the stories are forgotten. Warren uses real-life to draw an audience in, it is relatable.    

So as you’re pouring over that PowerPoint content, identify the drivers which will create your emotional connection. Your connection point could be a story, an analogy, a picture or a video. If you identify a way to connect with your audience emotionally, your communication will be the one they remember.    

By Contributing Writer – Jessica Underwood, Senior Associate, Changeis, Inc. 

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