One question people often ask is, “Michael, is it OK to cry when I speak?”
My initial response is, “It depends.”
It depends on whether your tears are under control, or your tears are controlling you.
Sharing your stories of struggles, setbacks and loss isn’t easy. But, there is a right time and a wrong time to share them with an audience.
The way to determine that correct time is to answer this question:
Are you in control of your emotions, or are they in control of you?
Being in control means you feel your emotions. You may cry, but you remain composed enough to share a meaningful message.
Being controlled by your emotions is the opposite. It means you can’t compose yourself. Throughout your talk, your emotions take over. The audience doesn’t receive a meaningful message. They may be sympathetic, but may also walk away annoyed or even feel manipulated.
This may seem like a harsh question, but it is fair. It drives us to the main purpose of presenting speeches. We speak (or at least we should be) to give audiences a meaningful message. Hope that they can improve their lives.
Your painful experiences might be the catalyst for that. And they can be. But, only if you’ve moved past the point of feeling overwhelmed by them. When you can feel the emotions, let them pass through you and regain composure. If you can then refocus on your audience, you’re ready to share your story.
If you can’t do that, it’s too soon. Your emotions are keeping you focused on your pain.
There’s nothing wrong with this. When dealing with loss, we each have to process in our own way. And in our own time. Just don’t ask the audience to go through your journey of emotional recovery. They won’t appreciate it, and it could damage your reputation. And opportunities for more speaking engagements.
In the last decade, Marilyn has lost two sons to accidental death. One of them was recovering from drug addiction. If anyone has a reason to hide from the world, it’s Marilyn.
Instead, she is speaking about the devastation that addiction brings to families. As part of her story, she talks about the accidents that took her sons’ lives.
When she shares her experiences, she almost always gets choked up. She needs to take a couple of deep breaths to center herself and regain composure.
A few tears may stream down her cheeks. She will stop to wipe them away.
And then she refocuses her attention on her audience.
This is OK. In fact, it humanizes her. Imagine that you’re listening to a speaker talk about losing her children. And she doesn’t display any emotions. What would you think?
I’d think she’s either in denial or a heartless robot. I would suggest that she not tell the story if she can’t show any emotion.
In Marilyn’s case, enough time has passed that she can feel the emotion, take a few seconds to manage it, and then move on. The audience feels closer to her. They pick up a new perspective through a mother’s pain. And they are more open to her message.
Is it OK to cry when you speak? It is if you are past the point of the experience controlling your emotions. Once you can feel the sadness, allow it to flow through you and then regain your control. Do this, and your audience will feel a deeper bond with you.
Is It OK To Cry When You Speak? ultima modifica: 2020-02-24T10:24:07-05:00 da