In the business world, especially in HR, we’ve been taught to keep our ‘game face’ on. Any hint of emotion is seen as is inappropriate, or as overstepping the mark, according to Emma Bannister, founder and CEO of Presentation Studio.
“In addition, we’ve been educated that our problem-solving and decision-making should rely on our logic and analysis only,” said Bannister.
“That applies to whether we’re consulting with management on strategic staffing plans or presenting a new training initiative with our team.”
However, rational decision making – for the most part – is largely a myth, according to Bannister.
This is because up to 90% of the thousands of decisions we make each day fall beneath our level of awareness and are reinforced through our feelings and emotions. In fact, studies have shown that 74% of participants have changed their decision after their emotion was changed.
Bannister cited Forrester Research which found emotion was the number one contributor to customer loyalty in 94% of industries studied, beating effectiveness and ease.
Moreover, Disney and Gallup found that organisations that optimise their employee and customers’ emotional journey generate 26% more gross margin and experience 85% more sales growth than their competitors.
Consequently, Bannister argues HR professionals to find ways to connect, engage and inspire their team and employees using emotion – and storytelling is the perfect way to do that.
In particular, Bannister urges HR to “make people feel it” and to “be human”:
Make people feel it
Storytelling is the most powerful form of communication ever invented. Whether it’s the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or a big team presentation, stories provoke our emotions.
Stories help us feel something towards the person telling the story, i.e. the speaker (you), which helps create connection, credibility and trust.
Any time you have the opportunity to present or speak to your team or to management, then you need to tell a great story. You must balance the logic of the content (the data and the facts) with an emotional connection (the feeling that makes us leap up in glee).
When we try and influence our audience with the presentation of facts and figures or pros and cons alone, we are relying solely on logic, which is often why our audience fall asleep in their seats.
Remember, science says that we make up our minds based on our emotions and how we feel about something.
So, if the goal of any presentation is to influence your audience (which it is), then you need to give them something to feel that will elicit a reason to act now. Should they feel angry and compelled to change their action? Or excited about the department’s new vision or idea?
In a presentation, you can choose images, photos, video, and even colours, that match that mood, so what you’re saying and showing becomes not only memorable, but meaningful as well.
Above all else, you’ve got to remember that one key word in your job title – human. As a human resource director, your whole role revolves around managing and influencing other people.
Of course, it’s easy to forget this when you’ve got your head down, churning through work, but we really cannot afford to hide behind corporate jargon, blanket statements or even our screens.
What the world needs today, what your employees, team members, customers and stakeholders are actually in need of is H2H – from human to human, a natural connection through compelling visuals and emotional stories.
When you share your vision and goals through compelling stories and slides that take your audience on the journey with you, then you reduce fear and instill confidence in everyone involved. That’s when they will connect to a future they want to be a part of.
Bannister is also the author of the publication author of the book ‘Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.