It’s all about connection

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My students constantly hear: people don’t make decisions based on logic. They make decisions based on emotion; they justify decisions based on logic.

That means that you must have both, of course. I do not mean to devalue logical appeals in persuasive speeches. But if you want people to act, you must appeal on an emotional level as well.

This goes beyond persuasion to speaking in general. A parallel: speaking isn’t about getting the words right; it’s about giving the words impact.

I saw this at work over the weekend at the Toastmasters District 63 Fall Conference in Knoxville. In several different sessions the theme kept emerging: what makes Toastmasters work, what makes dynamic clubs work, goes beyond the mere logic of benefits individuals gain from Toastmasters. It includes the feeling of family that comes from getting emotionally connected to the club and to the other members.

So it is with whatever it is you sell (and you all sell, regardless of what you do for a living). Unless and until people have an emotional connection with it, they will not be committed or interested.

After all, the father of logic himself, Aristotle, pointed out over 2,000 years ago that logic alone isn’t sufficient to persuade someone. He said that along with reasoning (logos), you needed emotional appeal (pathos) and credibility with your audience (ethos). Society may have changed, technology may have changed, but human nature has not. The emotional connection is essential.

It’s no coincidence that at the heart of the word “emotion” is “motion.” Emotion is that which moves us.

Even when we were talking about Parliamentary Procedure, which most people view as a dry, dusty topic, emotion was essential. We had a fun time talking about Robert’s Rules of Order, and people report to me that the fun they had enabled them to understand Rules of Order better than they had been able to before.

Have you made that connection with your audience?

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Author: Donn King

Donn King works with people who want to forge top-notch speaking skills to increase their influence and impact so they can advance their career or business. He is associate professor of communication studies at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.