The question “What do I want my audience to feel?” is part of the EMO process that can help you write your story when creating a presentation or speech.
Asking this question assumes that you want your audience to feel something in the first place. But why would you even care what your audience feels while you are doing your presentation or speech?
The answer is simple: because all our decisions are based on emotions.
The rational decision is an illusion. What? No, that can’t be right.
Yes, it is, here’s the basic science of it in a nutshell.
The rational decision is an illusion
When your brain receives sensory input, for example, hearing and seeing a person on stage giving a presentation, our sensory gateway, the Thalamus, relays this input to the Lymbic System.
The Limbic System is one of the oldest parts of the brain, residing deep inside near the brain stem. It is responsible for our emotional life and the formation of memories. After our senses get triggered, the input gets evaluated, and hormones are released as a reaction. All of this happens within roughly 220 milliseconds and is not something we consciously control or even realize most of the time.
After about 480 milliseconds, more then twice the time it takes the Limbic System to react, the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) has received and decoded the input. This is a much newer part of the brain where personality expression, decision making, and social behavior is taking place.
So while the PFC has the power to control a conscious decision, it bases the decision on the reaction of the Limbic System. Let me give you a simple example.
Why you want to buy that candy bar
You stand in line at your local supermarket and while waiting you see a display for a new candy bar, it has your favorite flavor vanilla-raspberry and it is on sale. Your Limbic System immediately reacts with the emotion, telling you subconsciously to buy this candy bar. Then your PFC kicks in and realizes that you wanted to cut down on your sugar intake and you deny this request, leaving the supermarket without it.
Does this mean we are not victims of our emotions and can make a rational decision? Well, yes and no. Yes, because for our conscious mind, it appears that we actively made the decision, based on logical reasons. And no, because the initial decision was an emotional one and the PFC just overruled it.
Emotion first, Logic second
So you should care about what your audience feels because all of their decisions are an emotional decision first. Always, for everyone and everywhere.
But then comes the rational mind. So the answer to the second question (What do you want your audience to know?) needs to give your Prefrontal Cortex the necessary facts to agree with the Lymbic System and support its decision rather than overruling it.
Find an active emotion for your audience
When you choose an emotion for your presentation, find an active emotion like passion, excitement, or surprise instead of a passive emotion like confidence or satisfaction.
In most cases, you want your audience to take action after your presentation, to buy a product or change their behavior. A passive emotion might make your audience happy, but will not motivate them to do anything. An active and powerful emotion will trigger the Limbic System and make them want to take action.
Next, we will take a look at the second part of the EMO process, the MESSAGE and find out why it is essential that you ask yourself “What do I want my audience to know?”.
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