What Singing Teaches You About Emotionally Connecting With Your Audience
Updated: Jul 21
Have you ever sat through a singing performance and thought to yourself, “This is horrible.” Maybe you wished you could throw tomatoes at the diva onstage and yell, “Booo!” Or maybe you’ve actually walked out of a theater.
Sure, the singer was present on stage, even singing with a decent voice, but it’s as if they were a robot going through the motions to music. Chances are, the reason you didn’t enjoy the performance was because the performer wasn’t emotionally connecting with the audience.
The performer wasn’t emotionally connecting with you.
In order for a singer to emotionally connect with their audience, they must “feel” the emotions themselves. They color their performance using a variety of tools, such as:
Similarly, for good copy to make a connection with its reader—meaning, the words encourage the reader to feel emotions like envy, doubt, confidence, longing, and desire—the copywriter must be open to feeling these emotions as they write.
A good copywriter infuses their client’s message with heart, humor, and authenticity. This transforms the customer from a lukewarm customer to a loyal customer. One who will follow that brand on any journey!
Singers Have to Be Vulnerable to Emotionally Connect With Their Audience.
What does it actually mean for a singer to emotionally connect with their audience? To feel along with the audience?
It’s not like they can stop in the middle of belting the money note to ask a front-row patron, “Are you feeling devastated/thrilled/enraged at this moment? Cause that’s what I’m aiming for.” [Cue the tomato throwing!]
Nope, the singer has to be vulnerable and exposed. Only then can they foster an atmosphere of trust and empathy with their audience.
The singer must forget the rush they get from sounding incredible on that money note, and instead give in to what their character is feeling—ie. the devastation, excitement, rage. Even if it means they crack on the note because they were so overcome with emotion.
Is the Emotion Strong Enough to Compel Action?
You know that moment when you realize the performer is baring their soul to you? It awakens your humanity and sparks a connection between you and the singer. You realize the singer is there to ease your pain, fulfill a need, or bring a much-needed smile to your face.
Similarly, a copywriter connects with their audience (the reader) by using emotional techniques.
Just as a singer’s performance compels the audience to laugh or cry, the copywriter’s words create emotion strong enough to compel the reader to act.
Working with a skilled copywriter can help a business transform their brand message from falling flat to sailing right into the heart of the reader. From the reader clicking away from the ad or sales page to clicking through and pressing “Place My Order.”
The Answer is in the Acting.
To convince the audience to go on an emotional journey with them, singers act. And as an actor, singers have to know who the character is that they’re playing. They have to do a background investigation on their character, finding out things such as:
the character’s age
any past trauma
hopes and desires
desire to please others, etc.
Knowing your character’s background helps you understand what your character is feeling. Similarly, to write effective copy that compels action, a copywriter knows the pain points and desires of their audience.
If you don’t use emotion in your performance, your song lyrics (the words) are meaningless. Since we can’t listen to a song together right now, let’s examine a simple acting scene.
Imagine you’re playing Alice, a college student who must convince her teacher to give her a passing grade in her class.
If you deliver the following dialogue without emotion, in a monotone robot voice, your performance will NOT wow your audience. (Not to mention your character won’t get that passing grade!)
Alice: Professor, I have to pass this class.
Professor: Your efforts show otherwise.
Alice: Please, Professor, won’t you reconsider?
I can’t think of a single college professor who would take Alice seriously if she delivered these lines devoid of emotion. Alice wouldn’t be believable. Alice has to act like this situation means something to her.
And you, playing Alice, have to do it, too. You weave the qualities you discovered in your character investigation into your character. Alice’s fears and dreams, hopes for her future, and desperation to please her parents.
A copywriter does the same. They research the pain points and desires of the customer and cultivate a solution within their copy. In doing this, the copywriter emotionally connects with their audience.
Use the Emotions to Help Them Feel the Emotions.
When you layer emotions such as heartbreak, longing, and humility into your delivery, your performance as Alice will transform into a masterpiece. Let’s look at our little scene again, but this time we’ll add some heart.
Alice: (bottom lip trembling) Professor, I … uh … I have to … (heartbroken by her fear of failure, Alice breaks down in sobs in front of her teacher but takes a deep breath and tries her best to continue) … Professor, I have to pass this class.
Professor: (her cold, distracted mood softening to tenderness) I’m sorry, Alice, but your efforts have shown otherwise.
Alice: (holding her teacher’s gaze while she takes a deep breath, Alice makes one last desperate attempt to plead her case) Please, Professor. Won’t you reconsider?
Notice when Alice used emotion to enhance her words, her Professor’s demeanor flipped a 180 from the first example. Not only did the Professor’s attitude change, but her response changed as well!
Her teacher was so moved by the emotion Alice was displaying, that she couldn’t help but change her own demeanor. Alice compelled her teacher to feel something and act on what she was now feeling.
In copywriting, we can’t infuse emotion into our words with voice inflection, tone, body language, style, and volume. Instead, we let the word choice, punctuation, and syntax do that work for us.
But How Can Words Create an Emotional Connection?
Actually, they can’t. By themselves anyway. Every singer (or actor) must do something to put the emotion into their words. There’s a trick singers use to do this. Simply put, they have to have a secret.
A secret that only the singer knows. Something that drives them to do everything necessary to achieve their objective.
Let’s revisit Alice and her Professor one final time, but now we’ll give Alice a secret: her beloved father just told her he’s dying of cancer and his insurance won’t cover the necessary treatment. I’m feeling some emotion myself as I’m writing this.
And to increase the intensity of Alice’s secret, let’s say she knows the only way her father can pay for the expensive treatments is if she gets the well-paying job she applied for. And the job hinges on her passing this class and graduating. Talk about drama!
In this last example, take note: do you feel emotionally connected to Alice and her cause?
Alice: (bottom lip trembling) Professor, I … uh … I have to … (heartbroken by her father’s diagnosis, Alice breaks down in a sob in front of her teacher) … I’m so sorry, Professor. I have to pass this class.
Professor: (her cold, distracted mood softening to tenderness) I’m sorry, Alice, but your efforts have shown otherwise.
Alice: (Takes a step toward her Professor. Holding her teacher’s gaze while she takes a deep breath, Alice makes one last desperate attempt to plead her case, which she knows is actually her father’s life.) Please, Professor. Won’t you reconsider? My father … he’s sick. Really sick. But I need this class to graduate to get this job to pay for … oh that stupid insurance company! Don’t you see, Professor? Please. This class … It's more than just a grade. It’s my father’s life.
Oh yeah. Feeling all the emotions right now.
Alice made the journey from a simple request, to being apologetic, to rationalizing, to infuriated, to begging. All using very specific words to prick the heart of her teacher. How could her teacher possibly refuse Alice’s request after that performance?
And how could the audience not get choked up after watching this performance? The audience probably wanted to stand up and plead with the teacher themselves to grant Alice her passing grade.
Singers use these acting techniques to evoke an emotional connection with their audiences through song. They also vary their singing style, color their voice using different tonal qualities, vary their volume and body language, etc.
And you guessed it, this is exactly the kind of emotional response copywriters aim to create for their reader audience.
A skilled copywriter researches and understands their audience—to the point where they know their deepest desires—and uses this information to drive their copy’s message.
And that’s when the audience will think the words have been written just for them.
Working With a Copywriter Helps Your Business Emotionally Connect to Your Audience.
A copywriter’s job is to understand their audience’s pain points and then to address those concerns by presenting solutions. But who wants to read solutions that are presented as dull text without any heart?
To avoid putting your audience to sleep—or heaven forbid, have them throw tomatoes at you—try the following tips to infuse your copy with soul, persuasion, and engagement:
1. Find Your Authentic Voice. To emotionally connect to the audience, a singer has to find their voice. This means a lot of practice, humility, struggle, confidence, and more practice to find the right styles, inflection, etc. that draw the audience in and convince them to go on an emotional journey with the singer.
Similarly, to emotionally connect with your reader, develop your unique writing “voice.” This is a fancy term for your distinct style and tone. Be careful not to confuse this with being different for the sake of being different. Readers sense and welcome authenticity. So be yourself!
2. Pay Attention to Rhythm and Pace. Nothing puts an audience to sleep faster than a steady, boring, never-changing tempo. But have you ever listened to a live performance in which the singer and the music actually stop? The singer is so deep in feeling they appear breathless, overcome with emotion, unable to sing the next note.
Suddenly, you find your pulse quickening. You’re on the edge of your seat.
Desperate to jump to your feet and cheer, “Yes! You got this!”
See what I did there? I varied my writing’s rhythm and pace. Through sentence length and paragraph breaks, I (hopefully 😉) emotionally connected with you, the reader.
3. Empathize With Your Audience. To evoke an emotional response in the audience, the singer understands their character’s hopes, dreams, fears, secrets, etc. Only then can the audience members emotionally relate with the singer.
And once the audience is emotionally connected with the singer, they’re willing to go on their own emotional journey to discover solutions to their own problems.
Similarly, it’s crucial that a copywriter understands their audience beyond simple demographics. Your goal as a writer isn’t to be heard, but to make your audience feel that they are heard.
For more great tips on how to empathize with your audience, check out Lauren’s post, “Three Keys to Understanding Your Audience and Where You Fit Into Their Lives.”
Working With a Copywriter Helps Your Business Emotionally Connect to Your Audience
Whether on the stage or on the page, key ingredients create compelling performance: being vulnerable, using emotional techniques, and understanding your audience on a human level.
And don’t be afraid to feel the emotions you’re wanting your audience to feel. If you’re willing to take a risk for them—if you’re willing to emotionally connect with them—they’ll do the same for you.
In their blog article, “Building An Emotional Connection With Your Audience,” astute.co points out a simple but profound idea:
“If you foster a positive experience through emotional connection, your audience will be more likely to share that with others, which can help expand your brand’s reach.”
That’s how to create lifelong, loyal customers who are willing to follow you through thick and thin!
Still need more suggestions on how to emotionally connect with your audience? Lauren Littlewood offers a data mining guide to help you get clear on exactly who your audience is and how best to communicate with them.
About the Author: Karena Hamilton has a BFA in Music Dance Theater from BYU and now combines her love of singing and the witty word to write copy for vocal professionals who want to amplify their own voice. She also works as an instructional aide in the Special Education program at her local middle school. She lives in SoCal with her husband, two children, and three dogs. She chases after kindness, peppy banter, well-placed commas, and Costco cake. If you're ready to showcase your voice, head over to karenahamiltonagency.com.