Last Tuesday, I guest-lectured at the USC Marshall School of Business on one of my favorite subjects: Open Innovation. The subject can be a little dry, so naturally, I told a story. After the presentation, one of the students asked about my storytelling choices.

“I wanted to ask about your stories…are they always emotive? Do they spark some sort of emotion?”

The short answer is, “Yes.”

Not only is emotion important, it’s essential. We’re human beings. We can’t just upload data into peoples’ brains and have them dutifully execute our commands. People have free will and they’ll exercise that right when given a choice to listen to us or not.

In Rhetoric (350 BCE), Aristotle identified emotion (pathos) as one of the three required ingredients of persuasion:

  • Logos is the data, facts, and logic of your presentation.
  • Pathos is the emotion of the message that hits the audience in the gut.
  • Ethos is the character of the presenter. Are they trustworthy? Do they have the credibility? Does the audience respect them?

But, if all three are required to persuade, why do most business content creators focus on two-out-of-three (facts and credibility) and kick emotion to the curb?

Tell a story that your audience needs to hear. Connect with them on both a logical and an emotional level. I promise that they’ll appreciate the effort.


If you’d like to hear last Tuesday’s 30 minute presentation on Open Innovation, I’ve embedded it below.