passionate passion

Don’t say the P****** word!

by Elizabeth Toohig
in Blog
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Show don’t tell

Recently, I’ve listened to several talks where the speaker says “I am so passionate about […]”  – but, more often than not, I’ve been sitting there hearing these words and not seeing or feeling their passion. The most effective speakers do not need to TELL the audience about their passion; it shines through everything they say and establishes a deep emotional connection with the audience.

What is passion?

In terms of speaking, I define passion as the strong emotion you feel for the core of your content. It is a powerful emotion, and so care needs to be taken to ensure that it does not overwhelm the authenticity of your voice. Consider Anchoring your message with stories, examples and statistics that enable the audience to see, hear, feel and taste your passion.

3 ways to show your passion

Speaking authentically and with passion is not an easy thing to do. The greater the connection you have with your subject, and the greater motivation you have to speak about it, the easier it will be. When crafting a talk, consider the following three areas:

Be authentic

Believing in your message and owning all the material you use to anchor it in the mind of your audience is essential. Allow them to understand how you became passionate. An audience can sniff out phony words and feigned emotions, and they are equally astute at sensing when you are holding something back. Furthermore, if what you say is not what you believe, the audience will detect it. This then puts distance between you and your listeners.

Label your emotions

Don’t make the audience work hard to identify all of the emotions you want to convey in your talk. Labelling the emotions within your talk and backing them up with facial expressions and body language adds further depth to your passion. Another technique is to use character dialogue to convey emotions. Conveying tricky emotions through characters is a good way to create greater intensity, whilst reducing the risk of you losing emotional control.

Use your voice

There are three techniques that speakers often use to convey passion through their voice:

  • a rising tone
  • a faster pace
  • a louder volume.

Another valuable tool is using contrast within your voice (the tone, the pitch and the pace) to highlight the aspects of your talk that you really want to resonate with the audience.

As Dr Nick Morgan said:

passionate voice

“Passion comes from freeing up your voice to sing like Martin Luther King.”


When listening to others speak, ask yourself, “How does this speaker allow the audience to understand and see their passion?” Also, make sure that when you speak, you don’t actually say the P word! Rather, create a talk where the audience leaves saying, “Wow! that was a passionate speech” – all because of what they saw and felt it in all that you said.


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