Why is it that so many business presentations are dry, dull and ineffective? Well, it could be the presenter’s delivery style, or it could be the tedious and wordy powerpoint slides they insist on using, but I think there is an even more dangerous principle at work here.

I think that most business presenters think that emotions are left at the door when one walks into the office. People want facts right? Dispassionate, rational arguments supported by lots of data right?

NO! No! No!
It is impossible for us to check our emotions in at the door. Human beings are by definition emotional and, therefore, no matter how logical we like to think we are, emotions are at the heart of our decision-making strategies. If you want to “motivate” your audience to do something as a result of your presentation, then you have to engage their “emotional brain”.as well as their logical and analytical side.

Sometimes these emotions will be positive, and you can have them imagine what it will feel like when they are experiencing the benefits of your recommended course of action.

And, as I have commented before in earlier posts, sometimes you need to arouse negative emotions such as fear or discomfort. “Imagine what will happen to the company if we don’t adapt to the recent technological changes sweeping our specialism?” “Will we still have a business in two years time if we don’t act now?”

So now let’s relate this to your future presentations. 

Think how great you will feel when you can clearly see that your audience are following your arguments. What emotions come up when you can tell from the smiles on their faces and the nodding heads, that they are eager to implement your suggestions as soon as they get back to their desks.

Of course, you could the power of emotion and keep on doing things the way you have always done them.  You can continue to rely on cold, hard, facts to do the job on their own, but can you afford the failure rate that such a one-sided strategy will inevitably bring? Sure it will sometimes work, but is that good enough in todays tough business climate? Only you can make the call.


  1. […] Presentations that fail to create an emotional response from the audience are boring and dull. Audiences, just like presenters, are human and, therefore, make decisions based on emotion as well as logic. When was the last time you were motivated to do something based purely on facts or numbers? The best presenters understand the power of emotion to unlock motivation. They use stories and anecdotes to engage our limbic systems and generate the desire to take action. Learn more about emotion in presentations […]

  2. Lisa Braithwaite on 22/09/2008 at 23:01

    Love this, Gavin. We are emotional beings; there is just no way around it. I have a blog post coming up soon on a similar topic and I’ll link back to this.

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