Public Speaking: Why you should get emotional


How you can kick start your creativity and sound more human when you speak in public.

If there’s one thing that makes humans different from animals it’s the ability to share emotions and thoughts.

You do it easily over a glass of wine with a friend, on the phone to your partner or on a Skype call to a colleague.

But what about when you’re asked to prepare a talk for a conference or present at a board meeting? Well, that’s quite a different matter.

You might just feel like you’re swimming through syrup and may prefer to actually be swimming through syrup.

However, you’re still the same person, it’s just the venue that’s changed.

But it’s shut down your creativity. You’ve not got a clue what to talk about or how to talk about it. Your best bet is to somehow use that adorable kitten from YouTube that 17.4 million people have watched.

We’ve all been there.

Here’s how you can kick start your creativity and sound more human when you speak in public.

Find an Emotional Roller Coaster

To deal with this state of paralysis, think of experiences that have involved an emotional journey.

You know the kind. Highs and lows. Curve balls and celebrations. A surprise or a shock.

Even better if the journey taught you something. This means that you’re sharing your learning with the audience. And they get the lesson without any of the growing pains you felt.

To help get you tapped into those emotions – and this is the fun bit – you need to watch a cartoon.

I know. It’s a tough sell, isn’t it?

This one below.


Now you’ve been introduced to the merry cast of Inside Out, a gorgeously colorful film about the feelings of feelings.

These feelings are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear.

They live inside the head of 11 year old Riley who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents.

I highly recommend the film. It’s a great story with moments of conflict and a few laughs, too – many of which can be quickly flipped into philosophical nuggets that make you stop and think.

It’s also incredibly honest about when Riley’s having a tough time as she goes through big life changes.

Conflict, laughs and stuff to make you think. And being candid about challenges.

All key ingredients of a talk that shows your emotional side and makes you sound more human.

And why is this important? Because you’ll relate more to your audience and because you’ve opened up they’ll feel a connection with you.

Each of the five emotions in Inside Out is on a journey. Here’s how they respond to situations.

Welcome to your Emotions


Joy is a firefly of positive energy with a pixie blue haircut. She is the champion of cheerfulness, 24/7. She’s someone you’d definitely want on your team.

Classic Joy Comment:

Hey, look! The Golden Gate Bridge! Isn’t that great? It’s not made out of solid gold like we thought, but still!

Think about a time you experienced joy. What happened and what was the result? Describing this will lift and energize your talk.


Sadness is dowdy, somber and slow. She upsets the apple cart regularly and brings bleakness by the truck load. For any SWOT analysis, you can guess which parts she’d excel at.

Classic Sadness Comment:

“Let’s cry until we can’t breathe.”

Sadness is something we all feel. It can be the result of a loss or a failure. What example can you think of where there was sadness? What was your response to this?


Anger is squat and very red, with a big mouth that makes lots of noise. He blows off steam as he stomps through life. Anger is the guy without a filter to his thoughts and these thoughts are normally loud and sudden.

Classic Anger Comment:

Upon witnessing a broccoli pizza – “Congratulations, San Francisco–you’ve just ruined pizza.”

Well, it might not have been over pizza, but we’ve all lost it. Can you pinpoint a time when something got you hot under the collar? What caused that? How did you sort the situation out?


Emerald green – even her eyelashes – and with a constant sneer, Disgust is contemptuous about everything that’s not hip and cool. Like the broccoli she scoffs at, she’s bitter and is better at this than anything else.

Classic Disgust Comment:

“Are you kidding me? We’re not talking to them (the cool girls). We want them to like us.”

Disgust is a strong emotion. And because of this, be careful how you use it.

But strong emotions grab an audience as they feel your shock at an event. Think how you can describe an experience that built up to a moment of drama.


Fear is a wiry man made thin with perpetual anxiety. His eyes bulge and the one hair on his head responds instantly and dramatically to anything that threatens him.

Most things threaten him.

Classic Fear Comment:

“How do you spell meteor?” he asks Joy, who has asked him to write a list of things Riley could be scared of on her first day of school.

Sharing our fears involves quite a bit of honesty. But this vulnerability can reap rewards. And if you turn it round it also lets you show courage in how you managed or overcame something that once scared you.

So there you have it. Five emotions that everyone feels: joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear.

Exploring times you’ve felt these can help unstick you and wake up your creative ideas.

Take some time to jot down a few notes. Park it for a while and go outside for a walk. Even better, sleep on it.

You’ll be amazed what will surface and how you can use these emotions to connect to your next audience and sound more human.

And if you’re up for getting into the deeper emotions, check out when Joy and Sadness get lost in Abstract Thought.


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