The strange truth about how to get people to do what you want

By Lori

What if there was a magic bullet that would make twice as many people to pay attention to you, your information and your ideas?

Would you use it?

Spoiler alert: there is. More on that shortly…

The key to being influential is to activate your followers. But moving people to action is easier said than done.

To be irresistible, reach your audience (whether it’s employees, fans, blog readers or followers) on an emotional level.

You’ve heard marketers say that “we buy on emotion and justify with logic.”

And it’s as true for messages as consumer products. Enticing people to pay attention and get on board is about grabbing hearts and minds.

Hitting them right in the feels. All the feels.

Lucky for us, the American Marketing Institute created a tool that measures the emotional value of your words and phrases.

Instead of guessing how people will react to headlines and offers, you can use AMI’s EMV tool to rate exactly how much impact your words will have on your audience.

Famous in your field: use emotional words in your communication

Famous in your field: use emotional words in your communication

How you score

Our everyday English language contains 20% emotional value words. Using more EMV words will resonate with your audience and compel them to open your emails or listen to your presentation.

Check out these stats from American Marketing Institute:

“…most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines.”

The EMV Index got its start back in the 1970s, when research scholar Dr. Hakim Chishti discovered that there are basic underlying sound tones that are always interpreted the same way in our emotional response, regardless of the language spoken.

The Index is an algorithm that assesses how likely a group of words is to elicit an emotional response.

According to the AMI website, “A perfect EMV Index score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your subject line is quite short. A good score would rank anywhere from 40% to 75%.”

A rude awakening 

When I discovered the EMV, I tested a handful of headlines from the Famous in Your Field blog.

Ugghh. It was a real slap in the face. I DO NOT spend enough time on headlines.

Here’s the first one I pasted into the EMV tool:

“Three ways to win hearts and minds backed by science”


Your Headline’s EMV Score:


Translation: completely ‘meh’; not good and definitely not great.

In fact, most of mine are downright barren of any emotional content, hovering around 20% to 30%. (One scored a cold fish 10% rating.)

For contrast, here’s my very best of the half dozen I tested:

“Three ways to make your audience fall in love with you”


That baby scored 54.55, and hit all three emotional classifications:




We’ve determined that your headline appeals equally to people’s intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual spheres! Perfect balance!

Here’s how AMI describes the three different emotional spheres:

  • Intellectual: “Words which are especially effective when offering products and services that require reasoning or careful evaluation.”
  • Empathetic: “Words which resonate in with Empathetic impact often bring out profound and strong positive emotional reactions in people.”
  • Spiritual: “Words which have the strongest potential for influence and often appeal to people at a very deep emotional level.”

But it gets even better…

Injecting more emotion in your communication can actually change your audiences’ experience.

The words you use influence not just your audience’s action, but also how your audience views a topic or situation. Business Insider shared a University of Washington study “that asked groups of participants to watch a video of a simulated car crash and guess how fast the cars were going.

The video shown to each group remained the same, but a verb used in the question differed, as in: “About how fast were the cars going when they collided with/bumped/smashed/contacted each other?

The group that heard “smashed” gave the cars the highest estimated speeds, and when each group was asked a week later if the video they had seen contained any broken glass (it did not), the “smashed” group had a much higher percentage of remembering broken glass.”


More emotion makes all communication better

Where else can you use words and phrases with high emotional value?

  • Email subject lines
  • Cover letters
  • Pitches
  • Speeches
  • Presentation titles
  • Article titles

And a big one: social media updates.

(Words with high emotional value get shared more on social media.)

Resources! You’ve got resources!

Wondering what constitutes emotional words? Relax, good-looking people, I’ve got you covered with two fantastic collections, packed with emotional words.

186 “Power Words for Emotional Selling” from Karl Stepp.

50 Words and Phrases for Powerful Multimedia Content from Copyblogger.


Your fame boosting assignment:

Give this magical tool a whirl this week. Try to boost your headline or email subject into the professional copywriter’s range of 30% and above. Snaps for simplicity.

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