1. How emotional intelligence affects public speaking »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She is the author of "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking" and is one of only 800 people in the world with the highest level of accreditation in the professional speaking industry - CSP - Certified Speaking Professional.

Emotional intelligence and public speaking are connected. After all your main job in giving a presentation is to engage an audience.

When the audience feels engaged they are experiencing an emotion. Yes! Presenting is all about emotions and emotional impact, even when you are delivering facts and figures.

In fact, emotional intelligence has seven different competencies, and each emotional intelligence competency can influence your success in public speaking.

Let's look at each one in turn.

EI 1: Emotional self-awareness and public speaking

The first emotional intelligence competency is emotional self-awareness.

If you have high emotional intelligence on this competency you will be able to notice what you are feeling before you speak and during your speech. This is important because your emotions drive your behaviour.

If, for example, you feel nervous and you aren't fully aware of this you may appear timid on stage, you may rush through what you say to get it over with, and you may avoid questions at the end.

Similarly, if you are not aware that you feel intimidated by some members of the audience, you may, without meaning to, become defensive when they ask you questions.

If, on he other hand you are feeling confident and determined to get your point across you may find your gestures alter, your voice alters and you become more emphatic.

You need to know and understand this.

It is important you have insight into your emotions. Emotional self-awareness impacts on your success as a public speaker.

Want to improve your confidence as a public speaker so your audience wants to listen to you? Book into our public speaking development package

EI 2: Emotional self-expression and public speaking

The second emotional intelligence competency is emotional self-expression. Emotional self-expression is a vital component of public speaking.

No audience wants to watch a bored, tired or disinterested speaker. Instead, they usually prefer someone who is interested, passionate or enthusiastic about his or her topic.

How well do you express passion, enthusiasm or interest? They are all emotions. When you express enthusiasm for your topic you are more likely to spark interest in your topic.

How many bored and boring speakers have you witnessed? It's a sign that their emotional intelligence is lacking as a public speaker.

EI 3: Emotional awareness of others and public speaking

The third emotional intelligence competency is emotional awareness of others.

It is absolutely vital if you want to engage your audience that you can monitor and read others' emotions, and know how they are feeling.

You need to be able to monitor for this throughout your speech, so that if you sense the audience has become restless, annoyed or bored you can deal with it. Equally important is your ability to be able to read when they have become excited, enthusiastic or interested in what you say!

If you don't know how the audience feels as they respond to your speech, you will not know the impact, positive or negative, that you are making. You will therefore also not know when you need to spend more time explaining an item and when you can move quickly through another one.

Of course, it is hard to read the emotions of the audience if you have your own head stuck in your notes or you are reading a pre-prepared script. If you want to use your emotional intelligence skills in this competency do not become script bound but instead look at your audience.

Want to engage your audience more easily and make your presentations more interesting? Book into our public speaking development package.

EI 4: Emotional reasoning and pubic speaking

The fourth emotional intelligence competency is emotional reasoning.

When you are writing and preparing your presentation or speech, you need to make many different decisions such as:

  • What key points matter most
  • What to include
  • What to leave out
  • What is relevant
  • What is irrelevant
  • What examples are best
  • What language is most appropriate
  • How to engage this audience
  • How long to speak for
  • How to involve the audience.

All of these decisions require you to reason with emotions.

For example, if you ask, "How will the audience react if I include this?", you are asking a question about their emotions.

The same applies if you ask, "How will they react if I explain a key concept this way rather than that way?".

High levels of emotional intelligence in the emotional reasoning competency can have a significant impact on your presentation skills and ability to engage and influence an audience.

Public speaking is not about just giving information. Yet many mediocre public speakers think that it is. It's not.

Public speaking is about helping an audience engage with your information. It involves information plus emotions. Information + emotions + intelligence = engagement.

EI 5: Emotional self-management and public speaking

The fifth emotional intelligence competency is emotional self-management.

How high is your emotional intelligence in this area? You most certainly need to be able to manage your emotions at all stages of preparing and giving your presentation; and afterwards.

  • If you feel anxious, nervous or on edge, can you manage these feelings so they don't interfere with your presentations?
  • If you feel intimidated, inadequate, or insecure can you manage these feelings so you are still able to invite questions and deal with them skilfully?
  • If you feel tired, washed-out or lethargic can you lift yourself emotionally so you present with spark, enthusiasm and energy?

Public speaking is not just about your content, it is also about how you deliver that content.

Superb public speakers use high levels of emotional intelligence and emotional self-management to present consistently well.

Want to be a better public speaker and engage your audience easily? Book into our public speaking development package. 

EI 6: Emotional management of others and public speaking

The sixth emotional intelligence competency is emotional management of others.

Imagine that a member of the audience keeps interrupting you or becomes hostile. How will you manage him or her? Hostility is driven by emotions. The desire to interrupt is driven by emotions.

Managing your audience is a skill requiring emotional intelligence.

For example, a common scenario faced by public speakers who aren't very good is that they find their audience is bored. Boredom is an emotion. You need emotional intelligence skills to manage boredom in your audience, and to manage your own emotions so you don't panic when you see they are bored. 

EI 7: Emotional self-control and public speaking

The seventh emotional intelligence competency is emotional self-control, i.e. your ability to control your strong emotions.

Whatever happens when you are presenting it is important that you don't panic, don't become paralysed with a fear of public speaking, and don't become overwhelmed with embarrassment or anger.

Yes, emotional intelligence and public speaking are closely related. You need to manange the emotions of the audience and manage your own emotions in order to get your message acoss well. How high are your levels of emotional intelligence? How could you use your emotional intelligence become even better at public speaking?

How to improve your public speaking now.

Can you afford to have you or your team unable to engage their audiences? No! Organisations need to be represented by engaging speakers in order to get their message across as swiftly and effectively as possible. This applies to you if you are an executive or a manager too - do not bore your employees, your stakeholders or your board. We have a number of options to help you:

  1. Book into our public speaking development package.
  2. There is a definitive guide: "The beginners guide to being a brilliant MC".
  3. Read the book "Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking".

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.