When Emotions Make Better Decisions


June 26, 2015.  New York Times interview: Antonio Damasio,  Professor of Neuroscience,   University of Southern California.

In our coaching and training seminars we stress the importance of making an emotional connection with your audience and appeal to all their senses—not only provide hard facts and logic in your presentation.

Why? The reason is that even when logic and facts are important—emotions are often essential to a person’s decision making.  For example, when you try to sell your product or your idea—or want to persuade your audience to take certain actions. You therefore need to build one or more emotional connections into your presentation content and delivery in order to have the most impact.

Antonio Damasio, award-winning Professor of Neuroscience at University of Southern California—has conducted extensive research demonstrating the role and importance of emotions in decision making.

Prof. Antonio Damasio

Prof. Antonio Damasio. Click on image to view video.

Here is a YouTube video with a short excerpt on the above topic—from an interview with New York Times  columnist David Brooks at a 2009 conference by The Aspen Institute. Click on the image on the right to view.

Antonio Damasio is the author of several books, including Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain.

For the full interview, click here.

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

What Princeton Researchers Discovered About Successful Communication


June 19, 2015. Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to connect with your audience when giving a presentation or speaking to a group of people—but somehow failed to engage them?

If you have, you may find that discoveries by Princeton researchers about how we communicate and connect with our listeners will provide some useful hints.

Prof. Uri Hasson, Princeton Research Leader

Verbal communication is a joint activity between speakers and listeners—but despite much research over the years, studies of human communication were primarily done by analyzing individual brains.

However, in a pioneering study at Princeton University, researchers for the first time used MRI brain scans to analyze communication between a speaker telling a story and a group of listeners.

They found that not only were parts of the listeners’ brains activated by listening to the story— the same parts of the brain of  listeners and storyteller lit up! In other words: stories literally synchronize our brains.

Another interesting finding was that with a high level of understanding and engagement, some regions of listeners’ brains lit up before the corresponding activity in the speaker’s brain—as if they were anticipating the next part of the story.

With a low level of understanding and little active engagement, there was no such brain activity.

Mark Lanier, U.S. Trial Lawyer – Won $253 million Merck Vioxx Judgement

A powerful example of the potential impact of stories in business is Mark Lanier—a leading U.S. trial lawyer known for using stories when presenting his cases.  Helped by his highly effective storytelling approach, he won a landmark $253 million judgement against one of the top firms in the pharmaceutical industry.

So in order to truly connect with your audience, tell a story that will present your message in a compelling way—and which your audience will not forget.

The conclusion and practical take-away of the Princeton research:  without actively engaging your listeners, you have no successful communication.

The Princeton research results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (2010):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922522/

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

TED Talks: Information is Beautiful


June 12, 2015.  Great TED Talks: David McCandless, Award-winning Data Journalist.

Would you like your audience to better understand and remember your presentations?—Then use more visuals to display your data and other information.

If you struggle, however, to create good visuals—this TED talk by David McCandless will give you more than a few innovative ideas. One of his creations is the Billion Dollar-O’Gram—an information map to help your audience make better sense of big numbers.

In his TED talk he showcases a number of creative and eye-catching graphs, charts and illustrations—revealing surprising and compelling patterns and connections between data.

McCandless is an award-winning writer and journalist whose work has been published in over 30 publications in the UK and the US. He is currently a creative consultant for the BBC, among other organisations—and has written several books.

His most recent book is Knowledge is Beautiful (2014).

To access more TED videos: http://www.ted.com/

Trond Varlid

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.