Feelings over Facts

Comments ( 0 )

This past September marked the 50th anniversary of the famous “Daisy” television ad run by Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign. As presenters, we can learn a valuable lesson from the ad.

The “Daisy Spot” was created for ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach by my father, Tony Schwartz. It is considered by many to be the first political attack ad as it implied that Republican Barry Goldwater was a warmonger. It features a young girl counting petals on a daisy. The scene morphs into a countdown ending in an explosion and a mushroom cloud. The ad never mentions Goldwater but in a voiceover Johnson says, “We must either love each other, or we must die.” Then an announcer urges us to vote for Johnson. “The stakes are too high to stay at home,” he says.

A recent CNN.com article quoted Robert Mann, author of a book about the ad, “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds”. “No one had attacked anyone like that before. It was a pretty strong, implicit charge — that my opponent is a reckless cowboy who will destroy your children in a nuclear holocaust.”

The key word in that statement is “implicit.” Sometimes, the most powerful way to convey a message is by evoking in people some knowledge or feeling they already possess. That way, you’re giving them material, it triggers something in them, and as a result they convince themselves of your point.

Regarding the Daisy Spot, Mann said, “You can’t give people enough facts to fall in love with you, you got to move them to fall in love with you. The only way to do that is to make it emotional.”

It’s the same thing in a presentation. I’m not saying you need to have your audience in tears by the time you leave the podium, but you can deliver a more powerful message by relaying it in a way your audience can relate to personally. People are motivated not by facts but by how they feel about the facts. Sure, give them the information and data they need, but elicit their feelings about the material you present.

Had that ad stated outright, “Goldwater is a war monger” would it have been as effective? Instead, the Daisy Spot appealed to deep feelings people had about wanting to protect their children, to safeguard their lives, and to protect their country. Those feelings were the motivating factor. And it worked: the ad was yanked off the air after one showing.

So why not try a different approach? Present information in a way that will appeal to your audience on a human level and see if feelings don’t work better than facts alone. 

If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it!
Icon Icon Icon


  • "As someone who presents opinion pieces and data to large crowds, Kayla was instrumental in helping me focus and deliver the optimal speech and flow. I appreciate her time and intensity on helping me better relay my key points both in context and delivery." Sean Finnegan
  • "Kayla has a real knack for getting to the heart of a message and helping express it both rationally and emotionally for maximum effectiveness. She knows how to put a speaker at ease and get them ready to speak in high-stress situations. An hour with Kayla will make you a ‘Great Communicator." Lisa Merriam, President, Merriam Associates
  • "Kayla was an excellent presentation coach. She not only helped me discoverhow to turn a long, dry presentation into a story that is interactive andinteresting, but also helped me understand what it was that triggered mynervousness and gave me great suggestions on how to control it. Kayla isvery unique and invests all of her energy into your success." Christine Zambrana, Associate Director, Oncology Marketing

Newsletter Signup

All we need is your email: