Satisfying Head and Heart


human heart illustrationI often talk about how important the logic of your argument is. If you’re being persuasive, it’s important that your presentation be logically structured; that it make absolute sense.However, keep this in mind:

  1. Your audience consists of people just like you. And if you’re like most people, you don’t always make decisions based on logic. You make them based on emotions. You choose to wear clothing you like – that makes you look good in your eyes and the eyes of others. Sure, there’s logic in that, but there’s a higher level of emotion.
  2. We make decisions on emotional grounds and then try to find logical arguments to justify them. Think about the last car you bought. Then think about a recent supplier you contracted with. When you’re tasked with making a difficult decision, more often than not (when choices are not clear cut), emotion wins the day. Who do you really want to work with? People want to do business with people like them – that’s the bottom line. And that’s an emotional response.
  3. The best presenters are passionate about what they’re talking about. Think about the last boring business presentation you saw. Hard to keep focussed? Probably. But if the presenter was passionate about the information he or she was presenting, how much more compelling would that presentation be? In truth, it makes all the difference.

Think of the logic of your presentation as the “skeleton.” It keeps everything in order, there’s a logical place for each point, they’re all connected, and work together to sell the whole idea. The “flesh” is the emotion. It makes the logic attractive. It adds personality. It adds “heart.”human brain

There are three elements to keep in mind that will help make your presentations more persuasive, more compelling.

  1. Benefits. Once you have your logic thought through, take another look at  your points and make sure they appeal emotionally to your audience. How will each point make them feel? Is the solution that you’re presenting sure to have an impact on your audience’s work lives? Will it reduce anxiety? Will it save time, make them appear more organized and in-control? If so, say so. Benefits must be emotionally charged to be effective. How will each of your points benefit your audience emotionally?
  2. The words. I’ve spent the last three years training public seminars for one of the largest public seminar companies in the world, “National Seminars,” headquartered in Kansas City. One of the underlying aspects of all their communication programs is the knowledge of personality styles. It’s critical to understand the basic personality style of your audience. There are four main ones and each of the people in your audience fall into one of the four different types. Each of the four think differently – they make decisions differently – and they respond differently to the words you use. Words are critical. They can affect the logic of an argument, but more importantly, they affect the emotional appeal of your presentation."Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell

  3. The performance.
    Everything from our voice to our gestures to how we dress and whether we’re smiling, confident, nervous, or tired – it all affects the way our audience responds to us. One of my favorite books, “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell speaks to the phenomenon of how me make many decisions self-consciously, without even knowing we’re doing it. An important book. If you haven’t read it, you must. You can find it here.

In short, we need to display the right mix of passion, confidence and credibility. Because people make their decisions based upon emotion more often than not. So, while the underlying logic or “head” is critically important, you need to layer on a good dose of emotional appeal, in all aspects relating to the delivery of that logical argument – the “heart” of your presentation.