Make Them Feel it

“People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)

Truer words in speaking have never been said.





My wife drives a Lexus. I’m not saying that to brag, but to prove a point. When we were car shopping, we saw cheaper vehicles that perform almost just as well as the Lexus, had bells & whistles. We even saw some sleek exteriors as well. But we still settled on the Lexus.

And honestly, we bought it for the “L”. The little “L” piece of metal that adorns the trunk and centre of the steering wheel.

Why? Because we buy with emotion and justify with logic.

Sure we saw more reasonably priced cars. But Lexus equals a bit more luxury, a bit more status, and a bit more class than the other cars we saw. And that’s why we bought it. But we tell people, “we got a good deal”, or “it drives better than the other cars” or some other reason that, although it’s probably true, it’s not why we bought the car.

My wife loves the car because of how it makes her FEEL. She loves sitting in the heated leather seats. She loves the push button start and the low hum of the engine. She loves cruising on the highway and feeling the smooth power of the vehicle.

Emotion is why we buy.
Emotion is also why we listen.

When you speak, you had better evoke some emotion out of your audience. Otherwise you WILL be forgotten after your speech is over. Maybe even before.

Make your audience do one of three things, and they will remember you long after you have finished speaking. Make them do all 3, and you will be far ahead of most speakers.

1) Make them LAUGH

I start with this one due to personal reasons. I love giving inspirational speeches. I literally get goosebumps when I get to the main message within my speech. I remember going to a conference and a speaker taught a breakout session on how to speak. He said that he gave motivational speeches, and that humor “wasn’t his thing”. I remember nodding thinking, “Yup! That’s me! I’m a motivational guy, not a funny guy.”  I couldn’t have been more misguided. The truth is this – If eyes are the window to the soul, laughter is the gateway. Comedian Steve Harvey once said that his mentor Bill Cosby told him that when you get people to laugh, you have their undivided attention. And when you have someone’s undivided attention, you have the ability to affect them and make a positive impact on their lives. Once I learned that, I made it a point to uncover and add humor EVERY time I speak, regardless of topic. If you want to impact your audience,add excitement to every speech, and have audiences asking to hear more of you, you should do the same.

2) Make them THINK

When you speak, as Speaker Susan Lamb-Robinson says, you need to “Get under the skin, and get into the heart”. Sometimes you have to make people think about the pain they will have if they don’t follow the message that you are suggesting. Sometimes people won’t move until the pain of standing still hurts badly enough. So don’t be afraid to make your audience think. The emotion of Fear resulting from Inaction, can often be as powerful as the emotion of Happiness resulting from taking action. Make them Think, make them Feel, and they will Remember and Act.

3) Make them REFLECT

Reflection is an extension of thinking. When you find ways to make your audience not only think, but to reflect on their OWN reality or events from their past, then you’ve really got something! When people think about your story, you relate to them. But when they additionally REFLECT on their own stories in addition to yours, then you’ve moved them. They will be listening to you, while feeling the emotions related to their own lives. And that is a VERY powerful effect to have on someone. Get them to reflect, and they will be waiting for YOU to tell them what to do next.

People may forget what you say, but they will NEVER forget how you made them feel. And if you make them feel, they will also remember the most important things that you say.

This is a guest post from Kwesi Millington.

Kwesi is a public speaking, storytelling & confidence coach, teaching you to speak, share, serve and live with greater confidence. Check out his website at and do watch his periscopes. He shares some very practical tips on speaking and story.

[Quick Public Speaking Tip] One of the Secret Ingredients that Create Memorability


Memorability is important for us speakers, as it is for anyone building a brand, creating change, inspiring action, or wanting to be rehired.  

If you want your audience to remember your message, there are several wonderful ingredients you can add to the mix.

Today let’s look at this one

… create an emotional connection. 

Maya Angelou is quoted as saying   “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

When you make an emotional connection, you open up the pathways in your audience’s brains that facilitate recall.  Whatever you associate with that emotion will be retained along with the emotion, in their memories. 

If you want to introduce a new way of thinking or doing for your audience to adopt, create an emotional connection.  Having already researched your audience, you should have some idea of what excites them, what they cry about, what their problems are.  And you can use that information to connect to their emotions.  Use examples that will push those buttons, appeal to what matters to them most. 

Tell stories that create an emotion.

Use words that heighten emotion. 

Use emotive verbs.  Rather than “she said” use “she screamed”, rather than “he went” use “he raced”.  Give your adjectives and adverbs the same treatment. 

You can watch your audience as you go, and get a feel for what moves them.

It is also a fact that while statistics and logic and facts and figures are useful in supporting a point, they will not have the power over your audience that emotion does.  People will make decisions (and give you their attention) based on emotions … and justify them afterwards with logic.

So create an emotional connection with your audience and mix it in and around your facts, statistics and testimonials to engage your audience, have them remember your message and be open to making changes in their lives. 

[Quick public speaking tip] Switch audience attention to the words you choose

Your speech flows along.

It makes sense.

Your audience is listening, watching, presumably absorbed.

Keep them that way. A speech that flows along like that will get boring before long unless you introduce something that brings your audience’s comfort up short.


Today’s quick tip is one little device that will interrupt the normal communication process and rather than following the flow of ideas, the listener focuses on the words instead. Using this effect, you can have your audience stop, and really listen – to all that you want them to understand, engage with and remember.

This effect is to do with the sounds within words.

One way to create this effect with sounds is to use alliteration. Alliteration is one of the most powerful ways. Here, each word begins with the same sound. So I might have a “particularly powerful proposition” or an idea may be “Revolutionary and radical.” Can you feel the device working, drawing your attention to the words and all that they mean?

Another technique using sound is rhyme. Like all devices, it can evoke emotion which is one of the best ways to resonate and engage with your audience. It can also be used very effectively to create humour… Ogden Nash wrote: “Candy is dandy. But liquor is quicker.” How much meaning there is in those few words … and he draws attention to them using rhyme.

These are also the words that will create what I call a “bright spot” in a speech – a place you can call back to. Use it to identify a point in your speech, or a moment in the presentation as a whole.

So start getting into the habit of incorporating alliteration and rhyme into your speeches – at times when you want to slow things down and make a major point. They will be a powerful ally for you.

[Quick Public Speaking Tip] Oops, how embarrassing, you’re boring your audience

It’s a moment that nervous speakers dread – to realise that most of your audience is bored.

They’re glassy eyed, maybe even falling asleep, chatting or texting.


Worse still and more embarrassing is the presenter who becomes frantic, attempting to regain attention.

It has happened to me twice.

The first was early in my speaking career when I became aware of a lady in the front row, slumped, with her head back and her mouth open, quietly snoring. The second was later, during a presentation, and I watched with increasing concern as one after another, the people in the audience got that glazed look. They were too polite to nod off or chat, but the evidence was there. I had been asked to present on the subject and had failed to research that audience and their needs, which, it turned out, were on a different level altogether.

I well remember the panicky feeling. Fortunately I managed to turn the situations around. As the snores gently increased, we moved quickly into small group discussion so that the people around the sleepy-head moved and woke her up to participate. And in the presentation, as it became increasingly obvious that the material I had prepared was just not appropriate, I was able to drop the script, and work with the audience to find out their needs and present something they needed and got quite excited about. But I will never forget that initial feeling of losing attention.

Avoid the whole situation if you can by researching your audience and make sure you address the What’s In It For Me factor.

Avoid the whole situation if you can by embedding signposts so that your audience can follow the road of your presentation with you.

Avoid the whole situation if you can by ensuring you have variety wired into your presentation, and have something up your sleeve that you can move into if necessary.

Introduce a new visual.

Involve the audience.

Ask questions.

Change your stance, body language or walking pattern.


Stand still.

Change from a complex approach to the subject and create pure simplicity. Change direction entirely.

Ask for directions to take.

Whatever you use, it will become a smooth, professional piece of your presentation instead of a situation that embarrasses you and your audience.

Harness the Power of Change to Keep your audience engaged.

People notice change. You notice the hum of the air-conditioner when it comes on and when it goes off – but not in between. So change will get attention in your presentations as well.

Change what the audience sees of you and your environment.

Change your stance and gestures.

Change your position and location to emphasis a point.

Change the type of visual aids you are using – maybe from flip chart to object to slides.

Introduce a video clip into your presentation.

Make sure your slides do not follow a template.

Introduce something very different or unexpected.

Change the way you present. Use silence and pauses. Change your tone of voice and your speaking volume. All of these will match what you are trying to deliver – facts, stories, data, persuasion, all require different presentation styles, but the change caused by this will also keep attention.

Change your material.

Signpost changes, or new points you are making by using a sentence or a word, and a gesture, that heralds something new. This regains audience attention as well as whetting their appetite for more. Change topics.

Change the state of the audience. Have them move into groups to discuss a concept or share ideas about a topic. Change later to simply discussing with a neighbour.

Ask questions. Have them raise their hands to answer. This changes their physical state and allows a change in mental attention as well. Get them moving in some other way.

Changes in your presentation, in your presentation style and in the audience’s own physical, emotional and mental states will keep their attention focussed and re-focussed.

(c) Bronwyn Richie
If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but only if you include the following information with it:

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, a writer, and an award-winning speaker and trainer.
She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk , a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. Boost your speaking success, click here for Bronwyn’s FREE 30 speaking tips. Join now or go to

Make sure your audience follows you by giving them signposts

People will hear and understand what they expect from a presentation.

If they do not hear what they were expecting then they will be confused and tune out.
If they do not understand the point of the presentation they will tune out.

It is important from the start of the presentation to cue the audience into who you are, what your credentials are and what you are going to do with them.

This does not have to be spelt out in words. There are all sorts of ways using references, body language and stories, for example, to set the scene and cue into what to expect from the presentation.

And this needs to continue throughout the presentation. Bridging between points should be seamless, but needs to, nevertheless, give those same cues as to what is happening and what to listen for.

One of the most powerful cues is the cue for a conclusion. This can wake people up. They are always ready for the wrap-up, and obviously the final point is one thing that they will remember (if you make it memorable) along with the opening.

So if you want people to give you attention and engage with your material throughout the speech give them the signposts they need so that they know what to listen for.


© Bronwyn Ritchie If you want to include this article in your publication, please do, but please include the following information with it:
Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian, writer, award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years’ experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. This has been tip number 10 in the 30 speaking tips. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being admired, rehired as a speaker, with the 30 speaking tips. Click here for 30 speaking tips for FREE. Join now or go to

Public Speaking success comes from knowing your audience

Your audience knows whether you are speaking to them, or just presenting information. They will either feel the connection or tune out very quickly. With any conversation, whether it be informal or a formally presented speech or something in between, you keep that conversation going by choosing things to talk about that interest the other person, get them responding. So you need to know what interests your audience, what they will respond to.

This is what underlies the construction of most of your content.

It is the reason to talk about the benefits of a product instead of the features.

It is the reason to use language the audience understands.  Look at your technical terms, and any jargon that they may not understand. Use examples, stories, quotes and other support material that has relevance to their lives and their interests. You will keep their attention and their interest.

And if your presentation has been advertised in media or in a conference program, the material in that advertising is what drew people to your session, so try to stick to it, or they will disengage very quickly.

 So research you audience before you create your presentation if you can.

 Find out as much as you can – their age range, gender, income levels, dreams, needs, wants, culture.

 You can gain much from a registration form.

 You can ask the event manager.

 In your preparation routine, you can mingle with them before your speech.

 Then you can use that information in constructing your speech. If you need to persuade, for example, you can use your knowledge of their interests and dreams.

 You will choose language that they understand, and that is not irritating or offensive to them, and subject matter to suit that audience – themes, supports, anecdotes all will be tailored to them. Find out how best to dress, speak and what will meet their needs, or solve their problems and you have the first step to keeping their attention.


(c) Bronwyn Ritchie
If you want to include this article in your publication. please do. but please include the following information with it:

Bronwyn Ritchie is a professional librarian. writer. award-winning speaker and trainer. She is a certified corporate trainer and speech contest judge with POWERtalk, a certified World Class Speaking coach, and has had 30 years experience speaking to audiences and training in public speaking. In just 6 months time, you could be well on the way to being confident, admired, successful, rehired. Click here for 30 speaking tips FREE. Join now or go to 

Quick public speaking tip: Dates, figures and statistics

You can avoid losing your audience by being sparing with dates, figures and statistics.

These are all very powerful ways to support your points, but overuse them and they just become boring, and your audience will turn off.

If data is absolutely necessary, use your slides to create a visual rendition of it.

Tell stories about it.

Find some way to relate it to your audience – percentages of people like them, for example, or of their country.

Quick public speaking tip – Use variety to keep attention

You can avoid boring your audience by varying the pitch and the volume and pace of your words. Use pause for drama.

Speak quickly to communicate your energy and enthusiasm, and then use a slower rate for emphasis.

You can also deliberately vary the structure of your sentences. A single word can have huge impact used on its own, particularly if it comes after a wordier segment.

All of these are keeping your audience hooked.

Quick public speaking tip – Interrupt the flow of theory

Use humour if you can, create vibrant word pictures and tell stories to reinforce concepts. These will allow you to avoid presenting a continuous flow of theory which will kill audience attention and it will give vividness to your material that will make the message last in the minds of your audience – powerful impact.