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The Emotion-based approach to Speaking

by Guest Writter

The emotion-based approach to preparing a speech is a novel idea in verbal communications. It considers a speech as an emotional journey for the speaker and his audience. The focus on emotions helps speakers prepare memorable speeches and impact their audience.

How would you prepare a speech for a dinner gala? Let’s follow the steps to write an emotion-based speech.

1. Writing of the speech starts at the end

The first step in writing a speech is to clarify the purpose of the speech. This is the answer to the question “What do you want your audience to think or do at the end of your speech?”

2. Develop the Final Emotion

The Final Emotion is the emotional state of the audience at the end of the speech. In most cases, the Final emotion is derived from the purpose of the speech and should align with it. This is the answer to the question “How should the audience feel at the end of the speech for them to do or think what you want them to do or think?”

3. Understand the Initial Emotion

This is the emotional state of the audience at the start of the speech. In many cases, this is not in the speaker’s control and he spends some time in the beginning of the speech working on the initial emotional state of the audience.

4. Plan the emotional journey of your audience

The speaker uses various tools (like his voice, gestures, eye contact etc.) to take his audience on an emotional journey. This journey begins at the Initial Emotion and ends at the Final Emotion. Successful speakers are able to use the speaking tools to take their audience on this emotional journey. Planning the journey requires understanding where the emotional highs and lows will occur. The speaker plans the journey such that the audience moves towards the Final Emotion, which is the most important emotion in this journey.

5. Identify the tools that will be used to take the audience on this emotional journey

A speaker has many speaking tools at their disposal to take the audience on the emotional journey that he has determined for them. These tools include stories, voice modulation, use of poetry and many others. The tools should not be confused with the speech, which is the emotional journey. If a particular tool, like a story, is not working well, the speaker should change it and use a better tool to convey the desired emotions.

6. Practice, practice, practice

Practice is meant to get feedback to identify which tools are working and which need to be modified or changed. A successful speech is one where the speaker is able to take the audience on the emotional journey that he has identified. Feedback helps the speaker understand if the audience is going on this journey with him and, in particular, are feeling the Final Emotion at the end of the speech. He might identify tools, like stories, that need to be changed for the right emotions to be evoked.

7. Your speech is ready when …

 At the end of the speech, the audience goes on the emotional journey and experiences, in particular, the Final Emotion.

The reason why the emotion-based speech is effective is best captured by a quote from Mary Angelou, author and poet. She said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


About the Author

Vikas Gopal Jhingran is an MIT-trained engineer and researcher who used to suffer from poor speaking skills, due in large part to being both an introvert and an immigrant. He studied public speaking to improve in this area and eventually won the Toastmasters 2007 World Championship of Public Speaking, the first East Indian and only the second Asian to do so in the 80-year history of the competition. Vikas leads a team of engineers at Shell Oil Company and uses his leadership and communication skills to manage multi-million dollar projects. He also delivers keynotes and conducts workshops to help others become better speakers. He lives with his wife and two sons in Houston, TX.

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