Do you ever feel like an android when you’re giving a business presentation? Your voice sounds filtered and frozen. Slide after slide, you mirror the dominant view that intelligent persuasion has mostly to do with logic and reason. Hooray, rationality! The thinking here seems to be: You want to persuade somebody? Make the best rational argument. Use your three best arguments.
Rationality has brought us a lot of great stuff. Science got us up to the moon and down into the smallest of the most miniscule particles. But we’ve paid a price for all our rationality. Feelings, especially negative feelings, have been sent into the corner of business offices and told to shut up and stay put. Of course, who wants their perfectly rational agenda upset by messy, unreliable feelings?
Your presentations may be dull because you’re you’re keeping your feelings in check. You’re afraid and ashamed, so you remove yourself from the scene. Your audience experiences this as a kind of monotonous flatness. And so do you! So bring your feelings back into the room. Tell people how you feel about your topic. You don’t have to go into a rant about a lame product idea, or swoon in front of the CEO. Before you present or run a meeting, deal with your anger, shame, guilt, fear and hate. Build your hope, joy, compassion, forgiveness into your next presentation. Tell your audience how much you like an idea, how inspired you are by it, how much it means to you. Tell an emotional story. Tap into your feelings. Build and include. Widen your tolerance. Expand your creativity. Lift your audience. Objectivity is great, but objectivity tempered with a dose of emotion is even greater.