Manny Roman, CRESAMSP Business Operation Manager
I was doing some research about emotions for a presentation when I ran into something very interesting. Apparently our brain will maintain a particular emotional focus for 90 seconds and then move on. This concept was described by Brain Researcher Jill Bolte Taylor.
She proposes that an emotion will last for only 90 seconds as a physiological response unless we somehow choose to maintain that emotion. If we do nothing but wait, the emotion will disappear. In other words, we are in control of how we respond to an emotion. We can choose to ignore the negative ones and they will simply disappear within 90 seconds along with the chemical component that it generates.
We can lead a more calm and serene life by allowing unwanted emotions to dissipate and disappear rather than focus on them and continue the emotion.
This concept started me thinking about how, when we communicate, we are generating and eliciting emotions from others. We cannot conduct a true conversation if people are not emotionally involved. Therefore, if we apply the 90 second concept to all emotions, we will lose people if we don’t get them to engage in the emotion. We will also lose people if we stay on one point too long without retriggering the emotion.
If we do not maintain the focus of the conversation by changing something in the presentation to retrigger the focus, the emotion and the person moves on. We have all experienced this. When I conduct presentations, I sometimes see the eyes and faces of some audience members go blank, especially if I speak on a particular point for too long.
As I am interpreting the 90 second thing, I am assuming that the individual is captivated in one point with no retriggering. If the conversation is not kept moving along from point to point smoothly and frequently, the audience is going to move on. There are other ways that will cause people to move on however.
Sometimes the blank face is caused by something I said or did that brings up a memory and poof, they move on. This is the biggest issue presenters face. Even if the presentation is fast, varied, relatively interesting and presented well using verbal and nonverbal skills, audience members will move on when memories are triggered. This now requires us to be perceptive enough to know when we lose the audience and find a way to bring them back.
It is my experience that the best way to retrigger people is to focus clearly on conveying more of the message nonverbally and with intonation than with the actual words. The nonverbal body language carries 55 percent of the message, the intonation (how you say the words) carries 38 percent leaving only 7 percent for the actual words. By constantly using voice variations and body language to convey the message, you will be causing the audience to change focus often enough to keep the retriggering process in place.
If you observe the nonverbal actions of your audience, especially if it is one individual, you will begin to detect
the blank face and take actions to bring them back. If they slowly begin to point their feet towards the door,
the conversation is done. They have moved on mentally and wish to do
so physically. So, move on to your next victim.
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