By Nirit Pisano, Ph.D.
Last week, President Biden and Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered impassioned speeches about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Cognovi Labs’ co-founder and CEO, Beni Gradwohl, Ph.D., wrote about it here.
Both leaders’ capacity to motivate their audience, as measured by Cognovi’s Intent score,
was extraordinarily high at almost 80%.
But what was it exactly about Biden and Schwarzenegger’s words that was so impactful?
I spotlight seven features of their emotional appeals to bolster our own emotional effectiveness:
Biden and Schwarzenegger's first and last sentences evoked this much-desired-but frequently-unattained emotion. If you read no further than this, it is a win just knowing that Trust is a fundamental takeaway. Whatever is said between the start and end of a communication, we bring our very best when appreciating our audience with grace and respect.
ll. Emotional range
Biden and Schwarzenegger's speeches evoked all 10 emotions measured by our technology: Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, Sadness, Surprise, Amusement, Contempt, Hope, and Trust. They cycle through each, mirroring the full emotional variety shared by the audience. Imagine that deep sense of connectedness? Nothing beats resonating with diverse moods, states, and experiences - and all in one shot.
Ill. Co-occurring Opposites
Two prominent emotions both leaders convey are Joy and Sadness. Actually, Joy then Sadness; Sadness then Joy. These seemingly contrasting emotions often co-exist, in speeches as in daily life, interchanging and intersecting continually. It's for this reason that we feel overlapping delight and sorrow in so many memorable moments.
Most lists highlighting emotional connection stay notably far away from Anger.
But Anger deserves air time precisely because of the bad rap it has garnered. I'm not talking about extreme Anger at heightened levels, on its own, for prolonged stretches of time. I mean the robust Anger that's accompanied by other emotions, driving our fiery passion and propelling us toward our goal - without the toxicity we so often associate with aggression.
Unlike its Anger counterpart, people easily show up for Amusement. Humor is known as a coping mechanism, an outlet, an anchor for interpersonal relating. But Amusement does not necessarily mean ''ha-ha'' funny; it can take the form of lightheartedness, playfulness, or wit, such that it makes an appearance even in the heaviest, most serious communications.
While the human mind attempts to bucket emotions into ''positive'' or ''negative'' classifications that line up with pleasure or pain, Surprise is one of those sneaky affects that dodges a prescription. By evading a category, it demonstrates why ''positive'' versus ''negative'' sentiments are often unhelpful. Does Surprise add pleasure, as in a surprise party, or pain, as in a surprise party? (Yes, those are meant to be the same.) The answer, of course, is that it depends. But across our research, time and again, Surprise has been shown to intensify the other emotions. And, as such, it is a powerful tool in the toolkit.
It's always good to conclude with Hope. Hey, POTUS and The Terminator both went for it, while also sprinkling it throughout their speeches. Combine it with the other emotions, and consider us engaged emotionally!
About Cognovi Labs
Cognovi Labs empowers clients with the predictive tools to engage, inspire and maximize their impact. The psychology driven Al reveals how audiences are feeling in the moment and what drives their decisions. Clients then communicate with emotional intelligence to shape their desired outcome. This allows them to win their audience's hearts and minds.