Public Speaking Course:
I Get So Emotional
This can be a great skill learned in your public
speaking course to get some real participation 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 take a simple set of
facts and paint really detailed pictures in the minds of their audience members.
You don' t just have to tell the stories to get an emotional response.
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 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 fond feelings in most general
public Christian audiences. It would not, however, connect so well with
people who do not celebrate Christmas
What about this 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 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 would undoubtedly elicit 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 will
laugh when thinking back to an embarrassment they felt was horrific
at the time. One of the definitions of humor is tragedy separated by
space and time. So, tell stories while speaking and ask the right questions
to move the emotional state of your audience.
There are many 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. When your purpose is known, choosing words to get the desired emotional
response is much easier.
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 using the skills that you learned in your public speaking
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 to weave
a tapestry of thought, to create the emotional response of horror about
this terribly dangerous turn.