Using Emotion as a Public Speaker

Some presentations elicit emotions. They make people feel something and inspire them to take action. What do all of these presentations have in common? They are driven by emotion – and not just any emotion, but the right emotions, to the right degree.

It’s the emotional content, not the factual content, that makes the information presented in a memorable to the audience. A good communicator is able to work both their own emotions and those of the audience, as well as conjure the inherent emotional context of the subject. Using emotion as a public speaker can amplify your message – but it must be on point and not be forced. Here’s how to do it without seeming phony.


Know Your Own Emotions

While preparing your speech or presentation, take note of your own emotions as you develop the content. Do the same during your presentation; does what you say make you feel excited, happy, or intrigued? Awareness of your own emotions will help guide how you speak to those of your audience, and will overall improve your communication.


Know Your Audience’s Emotions

The audience’s emotions are the Holy Grail that presenters have been looking for. It’s a bit trickier to identify them as compared with your own; it takes skill and practice to really read a room. Firstly, before even starting on creating your content, do the research on your target audience and collect data about their feelings on the topic. Be cognizant of how your audience is responding to what you say. Watch their eyes and faces, look for whether they’re attentive or distracted, and keep tabs on their body language to get some clues about what going on in their heads.


Identify Emotions You Need to Succeed

As preparation for knowing your audience’s emotions, identify the emotions that you want your audience to feel at the end of the speech – then target your delivery and word choice toward that. You do have some control over how your audience responds. It may not be universal throughout the entire room, but getting most of them on that level is your goal. If you don’t see them reacting the way you expected during the presentation, it’s time to switch gears.


Engage in Emotional Dialog

A well-prepared speaker won’t need to read from notecards or memorize their lines. The words will flow freely and naturally, seemingly coming from a spring of inspiration. That’s exactly what’s happening – they’re allowing themselves to be inspired by their emotions and the emotions of others. True communication and interaction is generated by “emotional listening” – paying attention to emotional cues and responding based on that input. In real life, a conversation isn’t scripted, and a presentation shouldn’t be overly planned, either.


Ask for Feedback to Get Closure

You can’t get it perfect every time – although maybe you’re an emotional intelligence genius. Assuming that you’re not, you’ll be best served by asking your audience for feedback after the presentation or speech. Emotion-based feedback that speaks directly to their feelings (such as, “How did you feel about what I said about X?” will give you insight into whether your emotional radar was spot-on or needs some retuning. Take that feedback and identify the communication tools and information you need to be a better emotional communicator.

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