Thoughtful post-it note

The comment in question was:

WAY too emotional about scenario. You need to present, not act.

Being a naturally emotional and expressive person, I realized that my presentation may seem like acting to people who do not know me. I was berating myself a bit for not rehearsing my presentation to mask how I often talk to my friends and family. Once I got home from class, I told my roommate about this comment and laughed about how my emphatic ways of storytelling and presenting earned me a piece of constructive criticism and that I needed to work on it.

Her response highlighted the need for an interdisciplinary approach to some aspects of Computer Science.

She is a marketing major here at Virginia Tech and asked what the presentation was about. I told her the goal was to tell a story of an error-laden experience between you and a machine, analyze it and use a known design method to propose an intervention. She told me that “emotional appeals” are often used in marketing to make a message more persuasive. I didn’t know this about marketing before today so I asked if I could borrow one of her textbooks to learn more about the topic. According to her textbook, THINK Public Relations by Wilcox, Cameron, Reber and Shin, published in 2013, “Expert communicators employ many different devices, including drama, surveys and polls, statistics, examples, mass media endorsements and emotional appeals.”. It also states that “Research indicates, however, that moderate fear appeal, accompanied by a relatively easy solution, is effective”.

My problem already had an in-place solution, which was me contacting the bank. My proposed solution, the bank contacting me, would cost the bank resources, therefore some persuasion was needed to show that this intervention was necessary. Being brand new in a city and being unable to use my bank card to get much needed transportation to work was frightening to me. In fact, I imagine anybody would be at least somewhat frightened in that situation. By being “WAY too emotional” I was creating a moderate fear appeal. The proposed intervention of the bank contacting me is relatively easy (although costing some resources). According to her textbook, this was an effective way of persuading the class that my proposed intervention was necessary. I received no comments saying that the solution was unnecessary so that backs up that the emotional appeal was effective.

I will admit that this comment would be valid if I were presenting something highly technical, such as “Why should we use Java instead of C?”. In fact, in future strongly technical presentations I will make an effort to be less emotional. Another good thing about this comment is that I learned something new about marketing and how it can be used to persuade others of your proposed intervention, even in the context of Computer Science.


-Victoria Worrall



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