The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

Introducing emotions

“You’re so emotional.” Does this phrase make you shake your head or smile? Many believe expert speakers should hide their feelings and merely share neutral facts. If the audience perceives you as knowledgable, it is great work albeit a job half done.

Our brain does not primarily evaluate in a rational way. American poet and activist Maya Angelou rightly wrote that people forget what you said and did but they will remember how you made them feel. Good speeches target our limbic system and the five to eight basic emotions that have helped us survive and evolve. By appealing to these, we move people from agreement to commitment.

How to elicit emotions?

  1. Draft your speech or presentation and write on a post-it how you would like to make the audience feel.

  2. Look at Ekman’s Atlas of Emotions or Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions (centre of the circle) and highlight each part on your outline with the relevant colour.

  3. If your paper remains black and white, add moving expressions or examples that elicit one of the basic emotions.

  4. You can use several emotions if you want. However, make sure that the overall presentation as well as images make the audience feel as intended.


Look at French President Macron's speech in front of the U.S. Congress? To which emotions did appeal? Does it change between the beginning and the end?

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Ben WilhelmComment