The Importance of Showing Emotion: Just Let Go!
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The importance of showing emotion: Just let go

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One of the most important skills of the speaker is the ability to inject passion into a speech or presentation. The audience needs to feel that you truly believe in what you're saying, that your words come from the heart and not just the word processor.

Sir Winston Churchill was a master of this. When he spoke his audience (most of whom listened to him on the radio) knew that he spoke from the heart. When he asked the rhetorical question, “What kind of people do they (the enemy) think we are?" they could tell by the affronted tone of his voice that he was genuinely angry and disgusted by their impudence.

His loathing for the enemy was genuine and heartfelt. When he said the word "Nazi‟ it would roll off his tongue as "Nahhzzee‟ as if he could hardly bear to mouth the word.

So if you want your audience to believe your words, make sure you sound like you believe in them yourself first! How do you do this? You have to shed the formal, unemotional, analytical, businesslike suit of armour most of us wear whilst at work and speak like a live, human being.

Ever noticed that many singers who perform cover versions of famous songs just don't quite get it right? They know all the words, and sing the right notes in the right order, but often there's something missing. And I'm not just talking about second-division cabaret artistes either. The same is true for performers who have had many a hit song of their own. It's because it's not their song. They have no emotional investment in it.

You can see the same thing when watching amateurs sing in karaoke bars. The best karaoke singers aren‟t necessarily those with the best voices; they're often those who invest something of themselves in the song. In other words, they don't hold back. They're not bothered what others think of them. They let themselves go.

Most singers don't. They're embarrassed. They're scared of what others will think. They're afraid they won't hit that high note. You see, if they give a half-hearted rendition of a song, it doesn't matter if it's not very good. Because the audience knows they weren't really trying too hard.

But what if they obviously give it their all? If they give it 100%? Because then if it's not very good, it will be embarrassing. So they play it safe. They sing "not to lose‟ rather than "to win‟. They don't put themselves on the line. And that's why they're poor.

It's exactly the same with speeches and business presentations. Many people in business feel that displaying emotion is "unprofessional‟. They want to be viewed as logical, dispassionate, rational, factual, analytical machines who are in control at all times. Well, you might come across as dispassionate, but you also come across as (at worst) a robot or (at best) Star Trek's Mr. Spock.

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