Few people consider a business presentation to be an emotional experience. Yet, every communication opportunity engages the entire person — quirks, passions and questions.
As an executive partner at a global research and advisory firm, Michael was a seasoned presenter, regularly engaging his C-Suite customers. Unfortunately, endless slide decks filled with complex data was the norm in his career. Even speakers like Michael struggled, at times, to excite his audiences. No matter how much information and logic he shared, there was still a need to connect with his audience via the path that carries reason to the doorstep of action: the emotions.
Michael and I met regularly over six months to review his past communication performances and prepare for upcoming presentations. Early on I learned that he was a die-hard Beatles fan. We both agreed that all the reasons for the Beatles’ greatness is overshadowed by a simple reality: their music connects to the heart of the listener. We focused on this phenomenon as Michael prepared for his next speaking opportunity. The same passion that fueled him offstage inspired his performance onstage. It was a huge success.
This fresh take on communication allowed him to reduce notoriously lengthy slide decks into just a few symbolic visuals. Then, Michael’s teammates took notice. They began to shift their own communication approaches as well.
First, others who regularly presented with Michael began to emphasize their conclusions, rather than the data itself. Then other colleagues joined the movement. What supported their own beliefs? With or without all the evidence, the journey they shared with customers had to make room for feelings, for feelings to stretch and wind into beliefs, the underlying driver of behavior.
When Michael was later promoted to vice president, his logic-plus-emotion communication approach spread to his entire team. What began with one person flowed to another and another, and grew an entirely new culture of communication excellence. It all lands in the heart.