ATD Session Recap: Hit your Bullseye: Influence Emotion to Motivate Action



Speaker: G. Riley Mills

Date Presented: 5.16.22


A big part of why I chose to attend this session is that in change management we have to influence hearts and minds in order to drive behavior change. I'm always game to learn pro tips on enhancing this skill set.


We started with a discussion on what makes up good communication and the consequences of poor communication. The word of the hour was conveyance - which is the effective transmission of idea, process, and policy. Consequences for poor communication included:


  • Misunderstanding

  • Conflict

  • Injury (industry dependent)

  • Lack of team of cohesion

  • Low employee morale

  • Wasted time and resources

  • Damaged relationships

  • Lost revenue

The presenter was an incredible storyteller and kept our attention by flawlessly pivoting between facilitation tactics and modality of delivery. He shared a slide with photos of well-known influential public speakers, followed by images of their "unknown" acting/speech coaches that helped them. (See image below.)

We then moved into the Pinnacle Performance 3 part framework for influential communication:

  1. Analyze the audience

  2. Identify what you want the audience to do

  3. Modify your delivery

Analyze the Audience

We were offered a flavor of the Gilbert Arland quote to kick off a discussion around the "prism of priority" - which demonstrates that every person is filtering information through their own wants, needs, experience or biases which impacts how they receive the message.

When the archer misses the mark, failure is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim, improve yourself!

In order to effectively tailor a message to an audience - ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s important to them?

  • Whats a priority?

  • Why should they care?

  • What anticipated thoughts, biases, judgements can you proactively address?


Identify what you want the audience to do

Ultimately, we all want two things: Engagement & Memory. These are not easy to get because of reactance/resistance. We talked about the biological systems we are looking to impact in the neocortex (logic) and limbic system (emotion).


We discussed the challenges that come with "The Great Acceleration" and how technology has made it harder to engage because we are used to going shallower with information and multitasking. He outlined four ways constant switching hinders productivity

  • You work slower - “switch-cost effect”

  • You make more mistakes - “screw up effect”

  • You're less creative - “creativity drain effect”

  • You remember less - “attention blink” or “diminished memory effect”

The speaker recommended his TED Talk: Are we killing communication? to go deeper into this topic.


OK - so how do we solve for this?! The main solution we focused on was incorporating pattern interrupts to align with the modern learner. This could include ~5 minute transitions, offering a prize, Q&A, video, stories, vocal variety, changing location in the room, changing speakers, solicit feedback or opinions, introduce a new visual aid, engage an audience member to read or contribute content, incorporate a physical activity, etc.



Modify Your Delivery

Last but not least, my facilitator heart was singing with this back to basics on delivery best practices. It made me want to incorporate film reviews back into my operating rhythm with my enablement team. According to a study by the University of Toronto, five seconds is all you have for first impression. Enhancing your delivery skill set is such a critical component of knowledge transfer and is often assumed to be a natural skill when, in all actuality, it is very much a learned skill.


We discussed how our face, body and voice act as a billboard, send out a message. Here are a few intention cues we went into further detail on:

  • Home Base Position - how you are physically standing in the room, should be confident, neutral, relaxed.

  • Pacifiers - how your nervous energy is physically displayed - think twirling hair, playing with rings, rubbing your hands together, looking around frantically, etc.

  • Verbal Virus - distracting filler verbiage leveraged, portraying a lack of confidence/credibility (ums, uhhs, ya know, like, and other personal repetitive phrases)

  • Vocal Dynamics - could include things like tone, pacing, and use of operatives or having an emphasis on words to make them mean different things,

  • Gestures - open palm versus pointing and leveraging the actor rule where you can't touch a prop or furniture unless theres a reason

  • Eye Contact - keeps them engaged, builds rapport, acts as a scorecard for audience

What was most impressive is how this whole lesson was facilitated - one of those "ya had to be there" moments. As a group we googled "worst speech ever" to find a video of a politician, Phil Davison, aggressively delivering very simple content. We provided feedback on the delivery and facilitation and then moved on to other topics. We were then brought back to a new video of the same politician after attending the facilitator's training program and got to see the night and day difference of his delivery - his Redemption video. And to add to the shock and awe - we then got to personally meet him because he was in the room amongst the participants the entire time!

Connect with G Riley Mills on LinkedIn, check out the handout from the session, and follow his work at Pinnacle or order his book online!


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