Emotionally Moving People
Psychologists define the primary emotions as fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise, disgust, and contempt. An emotion is considered a response to stimuli that involves characteristic physiological changes—such as increase in pulse rate, rise in body temperature, greater or less activity of certain glands, change in rate of breathing—and tends in itself to motivate the individual toward further activity (Emotion, 2004). People tend to confuse emotions with feelings and even psychologists are not united in definitions. “By one estimate, more than 90 definitions of ‘emotion’ were proposed over the course of the 20th century (Plutchik, 2001, p. 344).” For simplification, we will assume that emotions are the primary stated above and feelings are what emanate from these. For example, one might feel guilty about not contributing to a charity for starving children as a result of watching a movie that stirs the emotion of anger in the observer because so much food is being wasted due to corruption in poor countries. One might feel exhilarated and proud because of the emotion of joy experienced when hearing one’s national anthem played as an Olympic champion stands on the podium Any performance that is able to trigger strong emotions and subsequent feelings, to stir the audience inside, will be memorable, no matter what the performance genre (e.g. music, dance, comedy, acting). Emotional content is a direct reflection of the skill of the performers in choosing appropriate material, combined with their abilities to deliver it. We will explore this in depth in the next section.
I was once given the task of providing after-dinner entertainment for a black-tie gala of a national association. The organizer and her committee were not too happy with my suggestion of a harmonica player as they thought it was not befitting the occasion; however, because they were longstanding clients, they allowed me to proceed. The show went very well and after it, several people came up to me and thanked me profusely because they were moved to tears by the performance, which had managed to hit them deep inside. The choice of performer was purposeful, in that he had a tremendous ability to deliver emotionally charged songs (his own), delivered in a simple yet effective manner and I knew they would work. He was also adept at playing over 20 different mouth instruments and had won numerous awards.
Motivating and Inspiring People
Motivating an audience is distinctly different from emotionally moving them, although they will undoubtedly experience some strong feelings when being motivated. As opposed to only trying to stir inner feelings, motivation’s goal is to give the audience a reason to take some action. This might be to buy a product, to improve one’s life, to become closer to God, to work harder, to give to charity, to sell more cars, or a host of other reasons. Motivational entertainment takes emotional performances and adds a specific message and call to action. For example, if one is producing a fundraising event for special needs children, the entertainment might incorporate a moving song performed live by an onstage celebrity with video clips of the special needs kids in the background. At the end, a request is made for donations. For more excellent examples of this type of persuasive entertainment, one only has to watch the many charity telethons that raise millions of dollars annually. Almost any form of entertainment can achieve motivation if the content and timing are correct. Other examples of when it might be used are for incentive groups and teambuilding activities (e.g. with drum circles), for sporting events (e.g. with cheerleaders or loud rock music), and for conference opening and closing sessions (e.g. with motivational speakers). Figure 1 gives an example of a typical motivational speaker, a form of entertainment often used in special events. Inspirational entertainment differs from motivational primarily by the fact that there is not necessarily any call to action, only a general uplifting of the spirit.
Figure 1: Example of a Motivational Speaker at a Special Event (Courtesy inspirational business speaker Ian Percy – www.IanPercy.com)
Still lots more reasons to go and I'll look at them in the next post.
- Emotion. (2004). The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. Retrieved April 27, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PMqst?a=o&d=101242680
- Plutchik, R. (2001, July). The Nature of Emotions. American Scientist, 89, 344. Retrieved April 28, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PMqst?a=o&d=5000081731.