Public Speaking Skills:
I Get So Emotional
This can be a great addition to your public speaking skills, if you
want to get some real action out of your audience. If you tug on their
heart strings a little bit you can make it happen. This is where your
storytelling ability can really make you shine.
Great storytellers like my friends Maggie Bedrosian and Thelma Wells,
use their mastery of public speaking skills to take a simple set of
facts and paint moving pictures in the minds of their audience members
using carefully crafted stories.
You don't have to just tell stories when speaking to get an emotional
You can get another two-for-one happy hour special when you ask the
right questions. Asking questions not only involves the audience
mentally, it can also stimulate many kinds of emotion. 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 fond feelings in most general
public Christian audiences. It would not, however, connect so well with
people who do not celebrate Christmas (remember: know your audience,
remember your public speaking skills).
What about this thought provoking question, Do you remember doing something
really bad as a child? What kind of punishment did your parents give
questions would cause the audience to remember bad feelings.
Did you ever have a pet that died, or did you have a friend who had
pet that died? This would undoubtedly elicit sad feelings. If you want
the audience to smile, ask them this, Can you remember the most
embarrassing moment of your life? As you learn to use your public
speaking skills you will find that most people will laugh when thinking
back to an
embarrassment they felt was a tragedy at the time. One of the definitions
of humor is tragedy separated by space and time. So, tell stories while
speaking in public and ask the right questions to move the emotional
state of your audience, two more colors on your palette of painting
the picture for your audience.
There are many emotions you can trigger in the audience just by your
choice of 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. When your purpose is known, using this public
speaking skill involves choosing words to get the desired emotional
Here's an example of a simple set of facts that a speaker might convey:
"There have been eleven accidents in the past year at the sharp
which is two miles north of Cherokee Lake on Route 857. Installation
guard rails, warning signs, and a flashing light will cost
approximately $34,000. Even though we have not balanced the budget this
year, I feel that we should appropriate money for this project. Thank
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
his car was still playing when the paramedics got to his overturned
vehicle. John's neck was broken. It was snapped when his car flipped
over an embankment. No one here knows John Cochran because he did not
live here, but he died in our neighborhood. Most of you do know of the
hairpin turn on Route 857 that has been the scene of eleven accidents
this year alone and has injured many friends as well as strangers. We
need money to put up guardrails, signs, and a flashing light. I know
money is tight, but I hope you see fit to find the funds to remedy this
situation before the unknown John Cochran becomes one of your loved
Can you see the difference in these two appeals? The first was simply
set of facts. Facts are important, but they rarely stimulate people
action. The action comes when emotions get attached to believable
facts. You can bet the second version of the above story would have
best chance of securing that $34,000. Moving people to action is part
of having good public speaking skills.
To create the emotional appeal in the second version of the story,
words and phrases were chosen that had 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 woven into
the original set of facts, using great public speaking skills to weave
tapestry of thought, to create the emotional response of horror about
this terribly dangerous turn.
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