Emotion Essentials

I’ve previously discussed the Audio Tools you have at your disposal when communicating in any situation from a speech to a packed auditorium to a one-on-one pitch. To review quickly, they are:

  • Pitch
  • Articulation
  • Volume
  • Emotion
  • Rate

In this missive, I want to concentrate on the most frequently ignored of these tools: Emotion.

Emotion emojis

If you fail to transfer your passion to the audience, you cannot expect them to invest in what you are selling. Transmit a sense of urgency. Your audience members only buy your message if you demonstrate that you care.

Your emotion may be joy, outrage, excitement, gratitude, sadness, pride, disdain, or any other feeling.

Your body language must serve to support your emotions. You can evidence a forward lean to show empathy, clench your fists with rage, or shake your head to connote disappointment.

All emotion is involuntary when genuine.

— Mark Twain

A word of caution: Avoid coming across as a bad community theater actor, playing the ham who wears his emotion on his sleeve. Keep it at a reasonable level and refrain from going overboard. But do be sure to mix in the element of emotion as you practice your presentation.

Be sure to balance your emotion with the size of room in which you speak. Keep from overwhelming a small room with an overabundance of sentiment. At the same time, bear in mind that you will need to play it a bit hotter if you are to successfully portray your presence to a larger venue.

If you play to a large auditorium, you likely will appear on video screens spread throughout the room. Even though the space is huge, avoid getting too “hot” with your emotions. The camera brings it back to the level of an intimate presentation.


This post is based on an excerpt from the new second edition of The Truth About Public Speaking: The Three Keys to Great Presentations, which includes an entirely rewritten chapter on nonverbal communication.

The new edition includes more than a dozen exercises designed to sharpen your nonverbal performance when delivering presentations.

You save when you pair it with my new book, A+ Strategies for C-Suite Communications: Turning Today’s Leaders into Tomorrow’s Influencers.

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