As speakers, authors and coaches, you have a message and a need to share it. One of the best ways to do so is to use language that creates a strong emotional reaction and response.
You need to influence your audiences and increase the reach you have by using the right words, in the right way at the right time.The conversations we’ve been having recently with some of our Changemakers highlighted this topic of using emotive language to help your readers, watchers and audience to really engage with you.
Whether in your FB lives, your interviews, your sales pages, your copy and posts and indeed ANY communication, it’s useful to understand WHERE and WHEN to use emotive language to make a difference.
When we share our opinions, theories and thoughts, we are bound to use factual language but we also need to convey our feelings. Emotive language uses the words that tell our emotions and is able to generate an emotional reaction into readers. Emotive language helps someone see how you are impacted by what you say and ‘brings them along’. It invites them to see your point of view and your experience.
Emotive language is different to persuasive writing or language. That where any piece of writing uses language that can make others see your point of view as the only right option and theirs as unreasonable using words like “obviously”, “without a doubt”, “certainly”, “definitely”, etc.
These connect at different levels in someone.
First things first — what is emotive language (and what isn’t it!?)
Emotive language is used to bring out dramatic effect. It enhances the sentence by adding emotional context and ‘movement’ to it.
When we share our opinions, theories and thoughts, we are bound to use language and to convey our feelings. Emotive language uses the words that tell our emotions and is able to generate an emotional reaction into readers. Emotive language helps someone see how you are impacted by what you say and ‘brings them along’. It invites them to see your point of view and your experience.
Emotive language is different to persuasive writing. That where any piece of writing uses language that can make others see your point of view as the only right option and theirs as unreasonable using words like “obviously”, “without a doubt”, “certainly”, “definitely”, etc.
These connect at different levels in someone.
Here’s why you need to get good at using emotive language
As a speaker, author, coach you want to shift the perspective of someone, you want to educate them, stir them into action with your concepts and work. To do that you need to galvanise others into believing and following you. You do this because the result speak for themselves:
1) You grow your reach
2) You increase your impact
3) You get people on your side
4) You help them understand that you ‘get them’
5) You generate reactions — sometimes ‘marmite’ ones that polarise people (this is a good thing!)
6) You get to enrol people easily to join your group, your cause or your programme
Here’s where to use emotive language
We all naturally use some emotive language, but getting conscious of it makes the most of the effort you make all the time. So where should you be using it:
1) On sales pages. It will help someone to understand what the benefits of your offering is. You can use emotive language to illustrate what the advantages of using your product is
2) In your keynote presentations. You have to engage the audience and one of the best ways is to tell an emotive story or at least use their emotions to help them feel into what you are saying, letting your story illustrate your point through the language you use.
3) In pitches and introductions. Whether it’s the 60 seconds at a networking session or a wider pitch, using emotive language connects people to you, they get to know you more through that language and your choices.
4) Whenever you need to be inspirational, not just instructional. Look at the three versions here — which one appeals most to you?
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The key thing is this — Don’t OVERUSE emotional language – the impact comes from choosing the right emotive context and using only one or two examples or themes.
So, what words should you be using?
Firstly, you can borrow direct from common language and grammar.
Some words evoke a strong emotional reaction in the majority of readers or listeners. They hold a certain weight that is hard to ignore. Most of the words that follow are emotive because we desire the implied state or feeling or we want to avoid it.
Some examples of these are:
Adjectives — Appalling, Wonderful, Heavenly, Magical and Tragic, Terrible — we feel just by hearing these — easy, beautiful, meaningless. You get the idea.
Abstract Nouns — Freedom, Pride, Justice, Love and Terror (things we want to avoid or have that are names for ‘things’ that matter to us)
Verbs — Destroyed, Vindicated, Saved, accepted (e.g. a widely accepted concept) leaving, deserving/deserved, admired, attempted , bounced back. Active verbs help us feel that we too are doing that thing in the moment we hear them, it activates our imagination even though we are sitting still.
You can choose your words to relate to the context or content that your avatar finds appealing.
Word choice greatly affects how writing and speech is received. Different words can be used to cause different reactions in the audience.
Any words that cause an emotional reaction are examples of emotive language. The emotive response causes a reaction or a response.
Consider the following example:
“Put that in the recycle bin.” This sentence is not emotive. It is a command, but it does not cause an emotional reaction.
Now consider this one:
“You should recycle because it saves the planet.” This sentence is emotive. It suggests an action that elicits an emotional response. Don’t you want to save the planet? How could you choose to not recycle since it saves the planet?
It’s always up to you to connect to your reader, listener or audience. Language is a core way to do that. Are you using the right words to get that emotive connection with your avatar? Go have a read of your last landing page or blog. How much are you making someone ‘feel’ through your copy. What tweaks can you make? It might just make all the difference!
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