In my seminars I get to know a wide range of characters: The noisy extrovert, the humbly bold alpha dog, the timid man, the thoughtful woman, the funny guy, the introverted pessimist, the always smiling optimist.
In public speaking, among all these personal traits, one group faces a particularly high hurdle. I call them “emotional fridges” – people who are incapable of showing emotions and feelings, especially in front of a group of people. Exposed on stage and talking about themselves – this is a true Armageddon for them!
They would say, for instance: “I went to the U.S. for one year to finish my studies. It was the first time in my life I was away from home.”
No feelings. No emotions. Ice cubes in the face.
Emotional fridges are definitely not the only ones having problems with sharing emotions. But – I’m sorry, guys! We cannot change 2,300 years of rhetorical success factors. Pathos, the emotional appeal, is one of the three pillars of rhetoric. You must include pathos in your speeches and presentations.
Sure, you can inform people about your monthly business unit results. You can show numbers, data and figures on fancy slides. You can even explain the functioning of the latest air compressor technology. But – without that emotional appeal, without showing your most inner side, without human passion – you will hardly ever get that seven-digit investment for your start-up idea.
The good news is there is a solution to the low temperature problem. The trick is to add emotional phrases to your content, which start with “I feel” or “I felt”.
Take the example from above:
“I went to the U.S. for one year to finish my studies. It was the first time in my life I was away from home.”
You could say the same, but in a different way:
“I went to the U.S. for one year to finish my studies. It was the first time in my life I was away from home. Sometimes I felt lonely.”
Which one of the two versions connects more with the audience?
Every time you feel/felt positive about something you can add one of the following emotional phrases:
glad, happy, delighted, joyful, elated, thrilled, exhilarated, hopeful, expectant, relieved, satisfied, assured, certain, able, capable, confident, strong, courageous, powerful, adequate, good, great, excellent, sublime, comfortable, relaxed, pleasant, peaceful, pleasure, eager, surprised, excited, lively, enthusiastic, stable, positive, superior, magnificent, glorious, interested, fascinated, awe, inspired, love, compassionate, sympathetic, empathetic, beautiful, charmed, cheerful, contented, determined, energetic, glamorous, graceful, grateful, humorous, playful, proud.
Every time you feel/felt negative about something you can do the same using one of the following emotional phrases:
concerned, worried, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, exasperated, tired, burdened, weary, exhausted, drained, jumpy, intimidated, apprehensive, hostile, destructive, uncomfortable, annoyed, frustrated, angry, in rage, indifferent, ignored, contemptuous, rude, obnoxious, sad, depressed, aggrieved, agony, miserable, cautious, doubtful, hesitant, wary, suspicious, nervous, scared, fearful, shocked, panicky, dissatisfied, upset, disappointed, crushed, confused, disgusted, embarrassed, envious, greedy, guilty, harassed, humiliated, jealous, manipulated, pressured, regret, remorseful, revengeful, shameful, wasteful.
Whatever your character may be – shy or alpha dog, extrovert or realist – with these positive and negative emotional phrases you will add a great portion of pathos to your speeches and presentations. You will never be an emotional fridge anymore, you will appear more human and your rhetoric, in general, will improve substantially.