Most people would prefer to leave emotions out of their presentations. When delivering presentations, professionals typically strive to appear strictly confident and capable, never vulnerable, or fallible. However, the key to presentation success lies in balancing a strong, professional demeanor with a softer, more human side that can speak to the emotions of the audience members. For presentations, it is critical to be credible, however being likable should be the top priority for all presenters.
According to PsychologyToday, fMRI neuro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
Even if your presentation has nothing to do with a brand, or consumer goods, your audience will still rely on their own emotional cues to relate to you and your message. Instead of leaving those emotional responses to luck, manage the impact of your presentation by curating the emotional journey for your audience during your talk.
To direct the emotional experience during your presentation, intentionally develop your presentation design and presentation content by following these 3 tips.
1. Use meaningful visuals.
Abstract styles, geometric illustrations, and minimalistic designs can all be used to create impactful slides. However, to help your audience connect to your presentation emotionally, you should not use these styles exclusively, if possible. At least occasionally you will need to include a photo, graphic, or other visual element that will evoke an emotional response from your audience members.
For example, instead of using an arrow to communicate growth, use an image like the one below. Your audience will probably never emotionally connect to an arrow, however most people will have a positive emotional response to the child in the photo.
Using meaningful visuals has the bonus benefit of making your presentation more memorable. As mentioned in the post, The Science of Memorable Data Visualizations, abstract visuals are less memorable that visuals including graphics or images of easily recognizable items. Watch the video below to learn more.
2. Tell personal stories.
To be a likable presenter, tell stories that show your humanity. Even if a story describes a glorious success, take a brief tangent to talk about a struggle, failure, or emotion that you experienced. By doing so, you will give the audience an opportunity to open their hearts to you. If you cringe at the touchy-feely idea of opening hearts, remember that your audience members will rely on their emotional experience to evaluate you and your company.
3. Use colors.
Colors affect our hormones, emotions, and our behaviors. To craft the ideal emotional journey for your audience, do not select a color palette randomly. Instead, take the time to understand how your audience responds to different colors before making a selection. The psychological impact of colors varies across cultures and demographics so colors should be carefully chosen for the preferences of the intended audience.
Conclusion: To be a successful presenter, use meaningful visuals, personal stories, and carefully chosen colors to develop a positive emotional connection to your audience.