Expressing your emotions in speaking is the idea of being human. It’s what connects us to our audience. Emotions are naturally relatable.
As we grew up, however, we learned to suppress them. We learned not to be too cheerful when sharing our ideas and we learned it’s unpolite to express anger. But in doing so, we overshot so far that we often don’t express our emotions at all, unless they come out uncontrollably.
Because of this, a lot of people aren’t speaking up. And when they do speak up they perform at 50%, because they try to contain themselves. They present the facts but keep away their feelings. By doing so, their words fall flat and they do a poor job at communicating what they actually want to say.
The good news is that you already know how to express your emotions, and you did it with ease with yourself and with your close friends. The secret is to transfer this skill into the environments that matter most – such as important meetings, crucial conversations, and everyday life.
Examples of expressing your emotions in speaking
- You’re presenting the quarterly results in front of your team. The slide shows a 25% increase in sales. Are you proud? Disappointed? Whatever the feeling is, you inject it into your speaking. You don’t just share the numbers; you tell us how you feel about them.
- Somebody asks you about your weekend. Rather than exchanging the usual pleasantries and summarizing your experience, you actually share the most vivid details of your weekend. You express the joy of ice skating for the first time in 5 years and share the hilariously painful moment of falling on your butt.
- In a team meeting, you notice that everyone is on their laptops and not paying attention. You consider keeping quiet, but decide to say something. You express your frustration in a bold, yet polite manner. The team members look up from their computers, get the message, and close their laptops. Your words hit home and the meeting becomes more effective as a result.
- You’re leaving a voicemail (do people still do that?) and notice yourself entering the usual scripted speaking that we all do for voicemails. Instead, you snap out of the trance and use the opportunity to say something meaningful. You express how much you’re looking forward to seeing each other and share your excitement for the night ahead.
- You’re in a brainstorming session and someone asks for your input. In the past, you would have avoided taking a clear side. However, you feel partial toward a particular idea and believe that it’s the right way to go. You decide to inject that belief into your words and passionately share your perspective. The team hears your enthusiasm and your conviction, and decide that indeed it is the best option to go with.
What do all of these examples have in common?
There is a dry way of expressing yourself, and then there is a vivid way of doing so. Each of these examples showcases an opportunity to do what is easy and familiar, or to choose a more bold, expressive approach. The latter is what connects you to others and conveys greater care, conviction, and engagement. Don’t play small. Speak up and share your emotions.
What are the benefits of expressing your emotions in a speaking setting?
One of the greatest benefits of masterfully expressing your emotions in a speech is that it makes you universally relatable. Everyone has experienced frustrations at work, heartbreak in a relationship, or striving against adversity. Emotions give meaning to your words and instantly connect you with some of the deepest memories of your audience.
Second, feeling your emotions and sharing them makes it easier to speak. Your delivery will become more natural and fluid, and less like reading a script. Using your emotions to speak takes you out of a dry, stale thinking process and gets you into the flow. It helps you connect to your content and access what you truly want to say. And it’s more fun! Even serious content can be delivered in more accessible, entertaining ways, all of which pleases your audience even more.
What are strategies to express your emotions?
1. Use musicality
Musicality is expressing a contrast of feelings. Stories, conversations, and explanations aren’t one-sided; they’re dynamic. Instead of focusing on alternating your volume, pausing at the right moment, or varying your pace, you can focus on the root cause: feeling and expressing the different feelings.
2. Leverage energy
Different energies open avenues to different content. If you speak with high energy and express a vivid emotion, different thoughts will come to you than when you lean into your calm, deep, pensive side. Energy is a portal to new ideas. Shake things up not to wake up the listeners, but to inspire yourself.
3. Feel what you say
If you talk about how frustrated you are with a smile, you’re probably not allowing yourself to actually feel it. Because of that, people won’t resonate as much with your message. Equally so, if you say how much you care about someone but don’t feel that all, it will show. It won’t feel as good, and your audience won’t buy into it, either.
4. Care about what you say
If you don’t care about what you say, no one will. But when you truly care about what you’re saying, a story you’re telling, or information you’re giving, your audience will listen. If the information you need to deliver doesn’t make you care, try to find a perspective in it that does. There’s always something.
5. Train in a safe environment
Expressing your emotions is sometimes associated with a loss of control. It’s difficult, even scary, to relive some of your most vivid memories of pain, loss, or failure. To avoid this unease, you may begin to subconsciously narrow your range, constrain your expression, and reduce your speaking to a fraction of its potential.
The solution? Train in a safe space, where you’re free to mess up, start over, and try again. This allows you to learn the boundaries of your emotions and expand your points to their maximum impact.
Expressing your emotions makes you relatable, one of the greatest achievements a speaker can aspire to accomplish. We all know what it’s like to feel hurt, feel angry, feel stressed, feel lost. We also know what it’s like to feel hopeful, feel excited, feel powerful. Expressing your emotions means presenting your personal feelings, positive and negative, and enabling other people to feel them too. By doing this, people can relate to the human behind the words.
Even presenting professional, “dry” content allows you to infuse the elements of human emotions like anger, fear, joy, and sadness. It’s the secret sauce to connection and will help you connect with your audience more than reading a script or reciting lines ever could.