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Engage Your Audience With Facts and Feelings

You connect best with your audience by using a combination of facts and feelings. We need facts to get the information across. But we also need an emotional component, because every communication is trying to get someone to buy something—whether it's something tangible (such as a product or service), or intangible (such as an idea or principle).

How do you combine facts and feelings? By appealing to both left- and right-brain functions. When you state the facts, you're appealing to your listeners' left brains. When you state feelings, you're appealing to the right sides of their brains. In sales terms, facts and feelings are known as features and benefits. Features appeal to the intellectual, detail-oriented part of the brain. No one would buy an air conditioner, for instance, on its features alone. It's a big gray box that fits into a window. But it's benefit—that it cools you off on a hot summer's day—makes it worth an investment.

Features stay the same for everyone: A big gray box is a big gray box. But benefits change for different people. One person might need an air conditioner to cool off the room, while another might need it to provide clean air for an asthmatic child. It's important to know your listeners' needs so that you can emphasize the benefits that are most important to them.

In workshops, one of the first things I do is ask the participants what they can gain by becoming a better speaker. They give me a variety of answers, but the three that come up the most are the "three Cs": Confidence, Credibility, and Cash. With these benefits in mind, it's easy to motivate them on to success.


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