It’s no secret that emotion plays a major role in how people make decisions. It's the reason why 'story' has become such a hot topic for speakers and a well known fact when it comes to sales conversion. (Admit it, you’ve been #funneled. I know I have.)
To create an environment where you elicit specific emotions isn't always the easiest proposition. The ideal scenario is for you to create and deliver an experience that results in your audience saying 'WOW'.
Here's the reality when it comes to creating WOW-experiences:
'Wow' is not your content.
(No offense…I will always be Simon Cowell honest with you.)
Wow is a feeling.
(A highly complex one, in fact.)
The real secret lies in how to sustain the EMOTION created from your initial presentation and sale. (Hope, clarity, potential for…, etc.)
In my previous article about the cognitive domain (Speak to Ignite: 6 Levels of Higher Engagement for Online Learning) I stated:
Receiving knowledge ranks at the lowest level of the affective domain (the emotional/feeling part of your brain).
The affective domain (scarier than the cognitive domain, but the payoff is worth it) is your ticket to wow!
Let’s take a moment’s pause to study the key word and concept in this article.
Powerful. Now, let’s get right to it.
Here’s an affective tool (see what I did there?) that shows the (scary-not scary...I'm here for you) levels of the affective domain and outlines how to speak and present to access moods, feelings and attitudes.
Receive: It would seem obvious; you, as the speaker or presenter, have information to deliver, and your audience will receive it. It’s important to consider, however, that true reception occurs when there is an agreement or willingness to receive. After all, unless the point of your talk or workshop is for your audience to be soothed by your voice, true receiving of your information is a critical factor in your out-of-the-gate success. Establish a space where you create an agreement with your audience. Short of flat out asking for agreement and focus (which may be appropriate depending on the audience) you can do this by having an opening so strong and compelling that people have no choice but to listen and be drawn in. It's absolutely CRITICAL that your opening - the moment you step on the stage - is a carefully crafted, energy packed (doesn't always mean high energy - but focused) affair.
To have your audience 'receive' is the lowest level of engagement when it comes to emotion, but if you aren't commanding attention, you are fighting an uphill battle to engage anyone at any deeper level. Understood? Don't take for granted that your talk or workshop will be received without testing and working with someone who's got your back (like me).
Respond: Following suit, the next level of emotional engagement involves encouraging active participation through response. This means that you need to supply the opportunity for response to occur. Besides the more obvious scenario of having people raise their hands or shout out something catchy (I've seen and heard it all), think about creating the opportunity for your audience to respond to what they have 'received' by participating via a polling app (so easy to do!), volunteering to be an example (can be quick and easy if you design it to be so), or even to create an audience challenge. This requires a higher level of investment than simply receiving information (which can be going on while your learner is texting, tweeting, and taking selfies...sadly, I've seen all of it during presentations and keynotes).
When you give your learners the opportunity to respond to what they receive, you begin to require and encourage a deeper (and more impactful) level of personal investment - affective investment. (Sign me up…I hear it’s got great returns!)
Value: In order to get someone to value something you need to have a way to measure acceptance of the concept being learned or (if you’re really going for the golden wow) show evidence that there is a new commitment as a result of your information. How, you ask??
Provide your audience with opportunities to address or solve problems that are real for them.
Let bold statements land.
Encourage silence while people process concepts.
Frame your information, story, or teachings in such a way that the audience can relate.
Remember, it's NOT about you - it's about your perspective on what is valuable to them.
(Insert silence here)
In a workshop setting, or the kind of talk where it's appropriate for you to interact more, there is also huge value in giving people the opportunity to share their perspective in a safe, judgement-free space. (The value: you allow the audience to self-establish value...they tell you the value! Now that’s valuable!) The key is to always frame things to be adaptable to your audience, to allow access to personal affective relevance (emotional hot zones!).
Organize: At its essence, for this to occur, you want your audience to accept different views/ideas, synthesize them, and develop a new understanding of ideas. (Huh?) In other words, this is the ‘Ah-ha’ moment and the new potential for a change in behavior through the comparing, relating and synthesizing of values. (Well, how do I do that?) An easy way to get people to organize new ideas is to show comparison:
Old way of thinking vs. new way of thinking
Before transformation and after transformation
With your solution, and without your solution
It's in the demonstration of these kinds of comparisons that you create the opportunity for people to have their own 'Ah-ha' moment which, in turn, leads to them ORGANIZING new ideas, behaviors, patterns, and pathways in their own minds.
In summary, provide the opportunity for ‘Ah-ha’ and you have accessed the emotional response that most effectively brings about change.
Internalize: Or, as I like to call it, ‘after Ah-ha’, is the resulting action that occurs once someone has received, responded (engaged in), placed value in, and self-realized (the ‘Ah-ha’). Because of the affective impact you’ve facilitated, your audience will now prioritize time to meet the needs of this new realization, make space in their life, adjust and balance family, relationship, and professional needs to maintain and nurture the new behavior - and yes - even TAKE ACTION to invest in you, your product or service, or take the next steps that you invite them to take.
Here's the BIG KEY, and where most speakers and entrepreneurs absolutely fall flat: the new value systems/ideas, now internalized, have the potential to consistently affect behavior - IF - you nurture the relationship to be so. Put simply, once you've converted a stranger into a follower and even a client, it is your responsibility to foster and encourage ongoing positive transformation (translation: what you do after you get the 'sale' or the conversion MATTERS - A LOT). (…Ah-haaaa!)
Become Known for the Successes You Inspire
Just as with the cognitive domain of learning, using even just a few concepts presented here can (here it comes, your new favorite ‘a’ word) affect massive change and instantly increase the level of engagement and success potential you provide access to everyone who experiences your talks, workshops, or presentations of any kind.
Take your audiences from 'consumers of information' (in other words, a taker) to independent thinkers who value information as the doorway (you were waiting for an explanation of the blog post photo) to personal success, freedom, happiness, [insert transformation or result you inspire here], and that they themselves are they key.
You are the Key: Always
When you are effective in providing access to the affective domain (fancy, right?) you place your audience at the doorway of their own ‘Ah-ha’ moment and on the threshold of transformation. When you provide positive transformation, you have earned a follower for life. (You’re welcome.)
Coming next: Content and the ‘make or break choices’ you have to make.
I'd love to hear from you. Comment and tell me if this topic has given you something new to consider and implement as you plan and write your next keynote, TED talk, presentation, or live event.
Photo credit: Davide Di Giorgio