Get Emotional

What do you think of when you hear the word emotional?

  • Crying?
  • Laughing?
  • Yelling?
  • Arguing?

The idea of being emotional can connote being out of control. While that is sometimes true, it also refers to engagement and excitement. And that is something you want your listeners to feel.

As a speaker, you want your audience to be emotional, but there are many ways to show emotion without being out of control. Likewise, there are many ways to evoke it.

Creating passion in an audience means your presentation will have more impact and stay with the listeners long after they are gone. It increases the likelihood that they will buy into what you are telling them or make the choice to use your services over someone else’s.


What is important to you about your idea? Why should your audience care about it? What makes is better than other, similar products on the market?

Don’t leave your audience wondering about any of the questions. Answer them in your speech.

Show that you care about your topic by being so well prepared that your words come naturally rather than from a piece of paper on the podium. This allows your audience to learn what excites you. Enthusiasm is contagious!

Facial Expressions

Make eye contact with people in your audience, one person at a time, and smile when it feels natural. Most people react to a smile with a smile of their own which is a powerful brain trigger for endorphins.

Try scanning the crowd and stopping with your gaze on one person each time you change topics or make a transition.

Body Language

Your body language can stoke excitement in an audience. Don’t pace back and forth, but do move around, engaging different sections of the listeners, focusing more of your attention on one area of the group when you are closer to them before moving to another.

Use gestures to convey emotions and excitement about your project. Step forward when you want to emphasize an important point.


Keep your visuals simple. Slides should be clean and bright, easily understood. Use no more than a half dozen words per slide. Look for compelling images that will have an emotional impact. There shouldn’t be so many words on your slide that you feel compelled to read from it.

Word Choice

Active verbs and descriptive adverbs will evoke more attention. Look for ways to use them in your speech.

Tell your audience that you’re excited to be here, not just happy. And then tell them why and what excites you.

Emotional Need

Consider why your audience is there. What do they hope to gain — especially emotionally — from you? Insight? Knowledge? What do you want them to leave knowing or believing? That your product is the one they should choose? Why? What makes it different?

In closing, let me tell you why emotional buy-in from your audience is so important: it means you can influence people when it comes to making decisions.

A friend of mine recently went looking for some flooring to install in her new home. She visited a big-box store and two independent dealers. The second independent dealer won her business. Members of his family worked for him. He had his products in his own home and his dog spent the day at his company. All of these spoke to him as a person and helped him make an emotional connection with my friend. Although he wasn’t making a speech, per se, he was giving a presentation. Without even knowing it, his own enthusiasm for his business and his product helped make the sale.

Before your next presentation, try thinking about how you can evoke emotion in your audience. Let me know what you did and how it worked for you!

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Being Memorable

What makes someone a memorable public speaker? When you think about memorable people, what words come to mind? Today we’ll spend some time talking about how to make a lasting impression on your audience.

First Impressions

The first impression you have on someone is usually visual. Who do they see when you take the stage? Are you confident, polished, and professional? Don’t forget, you can also be remembered for making a negative impression!

Let’s look at how to get that first impression right.

Dress for Success: A friend of mine told me that she grew up in a poor family. She said that regardless of how little they had, they were always dressed in clean clothes and that her mother kept a clean house. They were proud of what they did have and all of the children were taught to take good care of their belongings.

Do your best to dress appropriately for the occasion and always be neat and clean. This bit of attention to detail will add to your self-confidence and is one less thing to worry about when you make your presentation.

Make an Entrance: People are drawn to positivity and confidence. Make your walk to the podium memorable with a smile and a confident stride.

Your first few words are a big part of the initial impression your audience has of you and they will encourage them to stay focused on your message.

Start with a sincere welcome and hello and consider telling the first part of a story that will weave its way through your message.

Your Message

Less is More: Don’t try to memorize your speech. You’ll be thrown off if you forget a line and have a harder time recovering!

Practice is important, but try to remember the three key points you want to make between your opening and closing. You can speak off the cuff most of the time as long as you know your topic well and use those main points as scaffolding around which you’ll build your remarks.

Don’t Plant Your Feet in One Place: An important way to keep your audience’s attention is to move around while you speak. Motion keeps people’s eyes active and their mind alert and focused on your message.

Be sure you are moving with intention and not just pacing out of nervousness.  It can help to think of your movements as a distinct part of your key points by moving to a new point on the stage each time you make a new point.

Have Fun!

This is my number one tip on my recent Top Ten List. Let your enthusiasm for your topic show.  If you are speaking about something important to you personally, the audience will pick up on that and be more easily persuaded to buy in to your message.

Use gestures, facial expressions, and movement, as well as changes in your pitch and tone to show how you feel as you speak.

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Talking Off the Cuff

An off-the-cuff speech is really just a few remarks made in answer to a question. It’s a mini-speech, if you will.

Nevertheless, it is a form of public speaking and sends many people into a mental panic. It can give you that “deer in the headlights” feeling.

Believe it or not, there are ways to handle it without panicking.

The Power of Threes

You can harness the power of threes in a couple of different ways.

ONE: Think about your reply as having three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Depending on your situation, your beginning might just be thanking the person who invited you to speak.

John, thanks for the question/chance to speak/etc.

The middle can be a few sentences that answer the question put to you. For example:

It has been my experience that colleges who evaluate their students’ performance and make meaningful changes have a higher number of students who graduate. Last year the faculty agreed to add the same statement about the course outcomes to their syllabi and discuss them in class the first day so that student would have a better chance at remember the goals for the course

You can wrap it up by thanking the person who asked you to speak or adding by a concluding sentence.

TWO: Focus on your remarks as a mini speech that has three points. Just have we have discussed in talking about a full-length speech, off-the-cuff remarks can be composed of three points. You can thank the person who asked for your opinion or you can begin by launching right into the first point.

Thanks, John. Our department has used three methods to collect data from potential clients with varying rates of success. Cold calling, email, and networking.

THREE: Now that you have verbally outlined you points, you can briefly talk about each one before wrapping it up.

 It’s Not All About You

And that’s a good thing! Why were you called on to speak? Most likely it was because you have knowledge or expertise that others need.

Your opinion is valued, which means the battle is already won! There is no need to prove to your colleagues or peers that you are an important part of the team.

Rather than focusing on yourself and your fear, focus on your audience and on answering the question that was asked. You may have a few seconds while walking up front to a podium or while you are thanking the group or person for asking you to say a few words.

Use that time to quickly consider their perspective and what knowledge they are lacking, then use one of the three-point strategies as you speak.

Practice, Practice, and Practice Again

Take every opportunity you can to practice off-the-cuff speaking. If you are member of Toastmasters, be sure to participate in Table Topics whenever you can.

As with anything else, repetition results in greater skill and increased confidence.

Join the conversation for more great information in my weekly emails and let me know about any tips you have to share!

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Skip These 5 Things During Your Speech

Welcome back! I spend a lot of time talking with you about what to do as a public speaker. We’ve covered many of these, such as the best way to begin a speech, end a speech, motivate your audience, use visuals, and much more.

Today I want to flip that on its head by taking a look at some don’ts. Spending some time thinking about and practicing the “don’t” half of “dos and don’ts” can help you break any bad habits you might have. Let’s jump right in.

Don’t apologize.

When you take the stage or podium, your audience is rooting for you. They want to be engaged and entertained. They want to know more about you and what you have to say. Don’t kill that momentum right out of the gate by telling them that you aren’t a good speaker!

Don’t try to be perfect.

As the saying goes, perfect is the enemy of good. Don’t waste time rehearsing over and over and over with the goal of delivering a flawless speech. It’s more important to know your subject well enough to be able to talk comfortably about it. Michael Nuendorff talks about the importance of not trying to be perfect.

Don’t read your presentation.

Your audience is there to hear you and what you have to say, not read. If they were there for a reading, you could have easily sent them an email or handed out a flyer. They want to hear what you think about the subject. Your presence includes more than your voice. It’s your engagement with them through your gestures, stage presence, facial expressions, and everything else you bring with you that they want to experience.

Don’t race through your presentation.

If you are especially nervous, take a couple of deep breaths and release them on the way to the front of the room. When you face the audience, smile and relax before you begin speaking. We spoke previously about how to use a pause effectively and one of the ways was at the beginning of your presentation. Having some water nearby if it’s possible can help you take a moment to slow down once or twice during your talk. It is all too easy to turn a 20-minute presentation into a 10-minute one and leave the audience in the dust, wondering what you just said. Practice slowing down and making eye contact with individual people as you speak.

Don’t try to be someone you aren’t.

Just be yourself. If you’re not a truly funny person, don’t try to be a comedian during your speech. There is nothing worse than a joke badly told. Being your own honest self is the most effective path to audience engagement.

In a nutshell…

  • – Be yourself
  • – The audience is rooting for you
  • – Hit the brakes if you’re talking too fast
  • – You aren’t perfect (Don’t pressure yourself to be!)
  • – Consider your audience; why are they there and what do they need from you?

Do you have any “don’ts” to add? Let me know what you thought about today’s topic!

Please leave a comment below or let me know any questions you have. Give these hints a try and let me know what you think!


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When Speaking – Just Be Yourself!

Although there is no right way to give a speech, you need to be a good communicator and the trick to that is to be yourself. Although this seems like it would be common knowledge some speakers still don’t put it into practice.

A lot public speakers that are normally lively, interesting and engaging individuals suddenly turn into totally different people once they get in front of the audience because that is what they think they are supposed to do. The audience does not want to hear a robot talking; they want to hear you.

“Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” – Oscar Wilde

So don’t try to impress people by using big words or trying to mimic someone else. When you are not being yourself, people can tell. Plus you won’t really be speaking from the heart, and you will come across as insincere to your audience.

Maintain Good Body Language

A lot of your impact as a speaker will depend on your body language. You need to be aware of the nonverbal messages that you are conveying. Expressing your emotions with strong, positive body language is essential to help build credibility and connect with your listeners. In addition remember to maintain good eye contact with your audience.

In his video, “Eye ContactConfidence Trick and Biggest Mistake,” Jimmy Naraine shares his secret for building rapport.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is very important to making a connection with them. You need to understand why your topic is important to the audience you are speaking to. Think about who will be in your audience and what they are expecting to learn from your presentation.

Think about the level of knowledge your audience has about your topic, so you know how to structure your speech to keep them engaged and interested. For example, if you are speaking to professionals in the field, adjust your level of information to a highly knowledgeable group. Conversely, tone it down for a novice audience.

Be Vulnerable

If your listeners don’t see that you are human just like them, you will create an artificial divide between you are your audience. People like to see that you can be insecure, scared and vulnerable. This puts you at their level, and they will relate to you better, making them more open to what you have to say.

Also, lighten up and use humor as part of your presentation. This will relax you and your audience will let their guard down creating a free-flow quality that will energize the room. Use your humor naturally, working in anecdotes from personal experience is always a good way to achieve interaction. Although a certain amount of humor is good, use caution when telling jokes. Make sure your joke will not be offensive to anyone and practice your joke on some friends first to see what of what kind of response you might receive.

When are you preparing for your next speech, relax and keep in mind that you are human like everyone else and that you are unique and have something to offer your audience that only you can deliver.

Summing Up

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