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wundayatta's avatar

Can you move a roomful of people, emotionally? Do you know how you do it?

Asked by wundayatta (58591points) April 12th, 2010

I’ve discovered (or been taught) a way of describing things or telling stories that enables me to keep a room full of people hanging on every word. What happens is that I see the story I am telling in my head, and I enter into that story, as if I am feeling it now. All the emotions come rushing in, and I put those emotion out there, and it grabs people, I think, because it is authentic and detailed.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? What kind of situation did it happen in? Do you have any insight into how you did it? Did it feel powerful? Did you feel perfectly comfortable doing this, or were you afraid of your own power—uncertain as to whether you were wielding that power in an ethical way? I.e., not manipulating people.

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24 Answers

sleepdoc's avatar

Yes put a saxophone in my hands and I will show you. I think it is a trait of those who are natural performers. Just the method varies from one to the next.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When I have experienced this, it was not my intention and I cried – it is because I couldn’t help it that they were moved.

Kauroinen's avatar

Sounds yummy.

Trillian's avatar

I’ve done it a couple of times but it was spontaneous, more just me getting up and speaking my mind. Both times I sat down to cheers and applause. I really don’t even remember what I said.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I witnessed Desmond Tutu doing this in college at a theater holding ~3,000 people, and it was very much as you describe, as if he went back to the incidence of violent enforcement of apartheid that he went through as a boy in his mind and just told us what he was experiencing.

TexasDude's avatar

I wrote a story once that made an entire group of students and a teacher cry.

IBERnineD's avatar

I have experienced it mostly when I dance. And I was completely comfortable with it, sharing my emotions with people whether it be through dance or simply telling a story, I believe is one of my skills. There has been nothing more incredible than performing in front of thousands of people and making them cry with me.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I have always vitimized the individual rather than a roomful.
I do it through my artwork:)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

When I attempt to captivate others, I bore them. When I attempt to bore them, they are captivated.

Vunessuh's avatar

About three years ago, at the ‘end of the season’ volleyball party, I got really emotional in front of my players and their parents. About forty people were in attendance and I cried my eyes out as I gave this passionate speech about the season and how the experience changed my life. I was also about to move away to another city so I was crying over that as well. It moved everyone in the room. I had no intentions of crying, but I couldn’t help it. I figured once I felt the tears coming on, I wasn’t going to try and stop them. I would just let them come naturally. People recognize that genuineness, not to mention how vulnerable and open you are in that moment and are quite receptive to it. It was a great moment for everyone.

I’ve been quite emotional a few other times in front of a room full of people and while I don’t like to do it and I usually feel incredibly uncomfortable, people have always been receptive to my emotions and feelings, most likely because they recognize how strong your feelings must be if you have the balls to break down in front of tons of people. (This doesn’t always mean crying, but even in other forms such as writing.) They’ve always been positive experiences regardless of how foreign it feels for me.

Ponderer983's avatar

I’ve always been told that I control the emotions of a room – and trust me this is not my intention and I don’t want the power either. My boss tells me all the time that as my mood goes, so does the office. it is difficult sometimes when I just want to chill out and be mellow and everyone else seems to feel that they have to be that way too. Too difficult to happy all the time. I don’t know how I do it really :/

jeanmay's avatar

I managed to captivate a whole room of people when I played the star of Bethlehem, aged about six. I had really wanted to plat an angel or Mary, as the star was a non-speaking part. All I had to do was spin across the stage in a sparkly tutu, which seemed unfair to me. But when it came to the performance I remember twirling on stage with a big grin on my face, and the whole room went aaaaahhh. I could feel the audience’s appreciation, it was invigorating! I looked round at all these beaming parents and teachers, people taking pictures left, right and everywhere, and just felt awesome.

I often look back on that moment when I’m hopelessly trying to capture the attention of a room full of pubescent students, and wish I could be the star everyday.

Pandora's avatar

Nope for it to work, you have to display some emotion and I rather not be public with my emotions. On a one to one basis, sure, but never in a group.
However I have captivated people with humor. But it works best when I have someone to play along with.

TexasDude's avatar

@jeanmay, I would let you see it, but my writing style has changed so much from when I wrote it that I’m actually sort of embarrassed to have my name on it. :-/

Cruiser's avatar

Music. Music it seems is the universal sound that almost all living things are attracted to! Let me plug in my baby blue Strat and I will have any number of people mesmerized for hours or until the beer runs out!

jeanmay's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Ha! Ok, well if you write anymore stories that are tear inducing, let us know.

thriftymaid's avatar

Of course. I have a friend who changes the emotions of the room everytime he walk in; he’s an IRS agent. Haven’t you ever been in a restaurant and when the cops walk in the staff disappears.

TexasDude's avatar

@jeanmay, will certainly do!

onedanceminimum's avatar

showing heart in any manner or form is inspirational…and sometimes moving.

On the day of my departure, a lady asked me if I had planned on coming back. I kindly bent over with my eyes balling out and said to her: “that’s an easy answer”, she quickly fled the room to hide the tears emerging from her eyes.

lifeflame's avatar

I hope so. I direct (and occasionally act, choreograph and dance), so it’s my job to “emotionally move a roomful of people”.

I once asked an actress who – without fail – managed to make me cry every time she did, and she said it was about keeping herself open to the space (and she gestured in front towards the audience). I think the trick is to get the audience breathing in the same way you are. I’ve learnt that it’s easiest if the trajectory of the piece has some way that hooks the audience, makes them care. Have them, in essence, fall in love, open up all their chakras; and then, bam! you can hit them with any kind of emotion.

When I speak, for example, in a workshop where there are many participants and we are going around the circle, I find that often the whole group will suddenly become very focused when I speak. (The energy feels potent, exhilarating—and yes, at times it’s scary too when it comes unexpectedly—you know, like there’s a party and suddenly you realise that the conversations around you have stopped and suddenly you have the floor)

I’ve been trying to think about how it happens, and I think it has to do with timing, especially taking that moment to collect oneself. And then when I speak, I speak with from my gut, my center (it’s actually a physical sensation/state with a certain rhythm of breathing): and I tell them, I thought of this, this is why it’s important to me.

So, if I had to boil it down: Opening the rapport. Synch the breathing. Use silence. Be sincere.

wundayatta's avatar

@lifeflame Breath is so important in so many other endeavors, why not for expressing emotion and capturing attention? I was wondering how you synch the breathing?

Sometimes I find myself actually closing my eyes. Especially when what I’m talking about is something I’m somewhat ashamed about. But mostly just because the feelings are so strong and I can’t express emotions to a roomful of people I don’t know without at least partially pretending they’re not there.

It is very important that they are there, but when I close my eyes I can imagine them responding as I want them to respond, which turns the real audience into an imagined ideal audience in my mind. Occasionally I will open my eyes to see what the real audience is doing.

lifeflame's avatar

I think it’s two things. One is to catch the right moment. (silence is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I can make a whole classroom quiet just by waiting. It’s even more effective than yelling at the kids.)

The other is to stay true to your feeling.
It’s really not that different (I think) to having a conversation with a friend, and you want to tell them something emotionally important. And as you may know, when two friends are in rapport they are pretty much in synch, their body postures, breathing, etc all synch up. There are systems like NLP that teach you to establish rapport technically (mirroring, cross-matching, pacing), but I prefer to think more organically. That is to say, I wouldn’t think too much about my breath, but I would try to sense the emotional importance of what I want to share, and the human beings in front of me which, for whatever reason, I consider it important to share with.

zander101's avatar

I’ve experienced it when I was Grade 5, when I gave a speech to the whole school, it’s one of my few modest memories about being present and alive. Experiences like that are so dynamic because emotions involved are so overwhelming, it’s amazing…...I feel it has alot to do with being passionate about what your addressing.

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