Public Speaking Course:
I Get So Emotional
Getting the audience's emotions involved is a great skill learned in your public speaking course. If you tug on their heart strings a little bit you can make it happen. This is where your storytelling ability can really pay off.
My friends Maggie Bedrosian and Thelma Wells are wonderful storytellers who can take a simple set of facts and paint really detailed pictures in the minds of their audience.
You can get an emotional response from your audience in more ways than just by telling a good story. You can also ask certain questions to involve the audience mentally and stimulate many kinds of different emotions. "Do you remember when you were a child and you could barely get to sleep Christmas Eve because you just knew Santa was going to bring you that special something?" This question would stimulate good feelings in audiences where people celebrated Christmas. It would not, however, connect so well with people who don't celebrate Christmas.
Here is another thought provoking question, "Do you remember doing something really bad as a child?" "What kind of punishment did your parents give you?" These questions would cause the audience members to remember bad feelings.
"Did you ever have a pet that died, or did you have a friend who had a pet that died?" This question would definitely evoke sad feelings. If you want the audience to smile, ask them this, "Can you remember the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?" You will find that most people laugh when remembering back to an embarrassing situation. One of the definitions of humor is tragedy separated by space and time. So in your presentation, tell stories and ask the right questions to move the emotional state of your audience.
There are many different emotions you can trigger in the audience just by choosing certain words. Happiness, anger, sadness, nostalgia are just a few. Knowing your purpose for speaking to a group helps you to pick which emotions you want to tap. Then you can choose words to get the desired emotional response your looking for.
Here's an example of a simple set of facts that a speaker could say to the audience:
"There have been thirteen accidents in the past year at the sharp
curve which is two miles north of Cherokee Lake on Route 657. Installation
of guard rails, warning signs, and a flashing light will cost
Here is a little different version that uses emotional appeal to get the message across.
"On July 18th of this year John Cochran was found dead. The radio
Can you see the difference in these two appeals? The first was simply
a set of facts. Facts are important, but they rarely stimulate people
to action. The action comes when emotions get attached to believable
To create the emotional appeal in the second version of the story, words and phrases were chosen that used emotional power. ... John Cochran was found dead. The radio of his car was still playing ... John's neck was broken. It was snapped ... His car flipped ... hairpin turn ... He died in our neighborhood. All these phrases were put into the original set of facts to create the emotional response of horror about this terribly dangerous turn.
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