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The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions

sarah gershman new yearsI love this piece by David deSteno in the New York Times, “The Only Way to Keep Your Resolutions.”  DeSteno argues we only keep our resolutions when we tie them to positive emotions:

That tool is our social emotions. These are the emotions — things like gratitude and compassion — that support the positive aspects of social life. For years I’ve been studying the effects of these emotions on decision-making and behavior, and I’ve found that unlike reason and willpower, they naturally incline us to be patient and persevere.

This is easy to forget.

We focus on the facts – the rational reasons why we should change our behavior – and forget to focus on the feelings behind that change.  We tend to think about the rational benefits of exercise, rather than let ourselves be motivated by the positive emotions (gratitude, pride, fulfillment) that surface when we take care of our bodies.

The same is true for your presentations. We tend to focus on the facts. In reality, what the audience will always remember more is how they felt when listen to you.

Next time you prepare for a presentaiton, ask yourself. “How to I want my audience to feel when they hear what I have to say?” They will always feel something. It may be boredom, frustration, indifference, etc. Not great!

So how do you want them to feel? Inspired? Motivated? Excited? Have an emotional intent for your presentation. Keep that desired emotion in mind as you prepare.


From the Green Room: Next time you prepare for a presentation – no matter how technical or data-driven –  ask yourself,  “How to I want my audience to feel?” The audience is much more likely to understand and remember your information if it is connected to that emotional intent.