Presentation Fails and How to Fix Them #5: Emotion

Check out this video, also on the theme of Emotion!


I see a lot of presentations that have effectively flat-lined: the speaker has zero enthusiasm for their subject, and guess what? As a consequence, the audience finds the experience tedious and are desperately looking for ways to escape. It’s a presentation crime which many speakers are unaware that they’re committing.


On the other hand, you may already be convinced that your audience is bored when they’re not. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that other people won’t be interested in you or your subject – in my experience, other people and their areas of expertise are interesting simply because they’re different to me and mine. You’re an expert in microbiology who’s investigating bacterial infections? I know nothing about that, but presented the right way you could really fire my interest.

I sometimes get asked ‘How do I make a boring subject interesting?’ However, I believe that subjects aren’t boring, it’s just that the speaker hasn’t found an angle that resonates with them. Once you’ve done that, then your audience can connect to the material through your experience of it.

If I watch someone speak who appears to:

  1. be an expert on their subject, and who:
  2. loves their subject

…then I’ll watch them for hours.

The more obscure the subject, the better. If it’s your obsession, which – by turns – inspires and infuriates you, then I can relate to those emotions.


What’s your motivation? Why do you do this stuff, anyway? Get to the heart of what moves you about your subject: do you feel joy, anger, fear? Emotions are universal, and are therefore a great way to connect with your audience.

Enthusiasm on its own doesn’t count for much, of course. Your vast knowledge of bacterial infections is the foundation of your presentation. But build on that using genuine enthusiasm and you’ll create something substantial, engaging and utterly persuasive.

Related Posts

Anger vs Boredom

Like You Care

Conflict is Good – Use It

Let’s face it, you’ve been spoilt this week with so much lovely content. From Monday, ‘Presentation Fails and How to Fix Them’ goes weekly (for 14 more episodes and blog posts!), continuing with ‘Stories’.

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