When it comes to public speaking, the experience is different for everyone. For many, it brings fear, for a number of reasons. Some are afraid of being watched, which is actually a fear of judged. Some fear drying up and forgetting their words. Others worry that people won’t be interested in what they have to say.
I’ve discussed many of these fears before (read here), but one thing I’ve heard recently – and especially in relation to story telling – are the words, ‘I don’t want to cry on stage.’
And that’s understandable. Speaking in front of a large audience is one thing, but opening up about something sensitive and showing vulnerability is taking things to another level.
However, showing emotion on stage is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Allow Yourself To Cry
Crying is a natural and important part of the human experience. It is a sign of strength and resilience, rather than weakness. People may experience emotions differently, yet everyone cries at some point.
If you feel uncomfortable crying, you may try and hold back the tears. And that is probably due to what you were told as a child.
As children, humans cry often – if you fall over, if you are told ‘no’ to getting an ice-cream, if you see something scary on TV or you have a nightmare. Often the response from adults is, ‘Don’t cry!’.
Now this might be because they are uncomfortable with crying themselves. It might be their own hang up about being seen as a ‘bad’ parent. Or it might be they are trying to comfort the child, and the rest of the unspoken sentence is ‘Don’t cry, it’s just a little bump, it will all be better in a minute’.
Either way it is not helpful.
Of course, life can be unfair, and some things just aren’t worth crying about. But as a child if you are always told not to cry, then you may come to believe that (you and) your emotions are not valid. This leads to problems down the line.
Thoughts like, ‘I don’t want to look weak,’ or ‘I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.’ Or ‘I’m just being stupid’, can all come from early experiences which cause you to associate crying as a bad thing, that’s best avoided.
The opposite is true. Vulnerability is not a bad thing. Actually, it makes you more approachable, more relatable, and helps you connect with your audience better. And by sharing your emotion, you give your listeners permission to have and express their own.
Being In Control
Still, I get it. Whilst emotions should be encouraged, maybe a speech on stage isn’t the most ideal time. It can be hard to speak while crying, and once you start it can be difficult to stop.
So, what’s the best way to deal with the tears?
Firstly get familiar with your emotions. The more you practice telling your emotional story – the more you will be able to access the emotion but not be overwhelmed by it.
Practically, if you’re stood on stage while speaking, don’t stand too still (it’s harder to cry when you are moving!). And when you feel yourself reaching a point where you think you might start to cry, step away – physically and mentally. Stand in a slightly different area to bring yourself away from ‘the scene’ where you feel like crying, and move your thoughts to a happier place.
Yes, a good speech should be emotional. But you’re not there for personal therapy – you’re there to inspire people. Whether that’s to sell a product or service or to ‘sell’ a story as a keynote speaker, keep in mind what your main goal is.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
As always, practice makes perfect.
Whether it’s tears you’re afraid of, or something else entirely, the only way to overcome that is through practice. Like driving a car, eventually public speaking becomes a habit, a muscle memory! I know it might not seem possible right now. But I promise you.
Stand in front of a mirror, or a camera, and eventually people. Overtime, it WILL get easier.
And if you want some inspiration, then come join us on International Women’s Day, where you can meet various inspirational women and speakers alike. We are planning for March 11th as we will also be celebrating the Find Your WHY Anniversary, but for now, be sure to save the date!!
Or if you’re available, come join us at our next event tomorrow for FREE, by clicking here!
PS – The genetic blueprint really helps with understanding who you are and what you are here to do – fill in this 2-minute questionnaire and I will send you your own ‘genetic blueprint’ which will help you understand yourself so you can begin to find your why! You will find it here.
PPS – If the link doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes technology has a bad day) then email me on email@example.com and I will sort it out for you!
PPPS – If you liked this blog and want to read more blogs surrounding female empowerment, you can find last week’s here: ‘Have You Ever Gone Off The Rails?‘
“I’m on a global mission to help 10 million disheartened souls, who are at a crossroads, to STOP asking why me? And START saying why not me!”