Emotional Public Speaking – Just Squeeze Your Toes

Have you ever spoken in public and found that between the anxieties of public speaking, the nature of the topic and the importance of getting a message to an audience you got a little emotional? A little choked up? Were you worried about your voice cracking, your words disjointed or even breaking down in tears? Anybody who gives an emotional speech is often sharing deep feelings with the audience and is at risk of any of the above symptoms.

Years ago I had the honour of working with a brilliant speaker named Helene. Helene was the Chairperson of an important community fundraising venture working towards building the hospital services out her back door. This event raised more than $133,000 for the Foundation and is supported by many local businesses and radio stations in her community. When Helene and I met for the first time, she stood up in front of me and gave one of the most compelling and emotional speeches I’d ever heard. It was the speech used to campaign the event, rally support and build a community of understanding.

Helene’s speech was about her son Don who was diagnosed on May 26th, 1993 with Sarcoma in his leg and needed to prepare for amputation. Four days later, on May 30th the family received the news that a 10 cm (4 inch) tumour had been discovered on his heart and lung as well. They said “take him home there is nothing we can do”. Due to the miracles of research and an attentive doctor who insisted on taking his case, Don not only won the battle against this disease but he was married 6 days after his diagnosis and now has 5 beautiful children. He is living proof of the importance of medical research and the need for strong alliances in the community.

Helene’s beautiful speech is filled with sorrow, laughter and most importantly hope and belief. I felt privileged to listen and enlightened to know that she was about to share this message with the world. Helene’s only challenge for this speech was to be able to share her story without losing control of her emotions on the stage. The most simple strategy for this is… squeeze your toes. It may sound silly but it works! For whatever reason, if you are trying to speak during an angered, emotional, or giddy moment, the one way to keep your voice on track and hold back the tears is to squeeze your toes really hard.

The reason I recommended this tip is because first and foremost, when one is in full tears and starting to all out cry, it is extremely difficult to actually get the words out to your audience and to share your message. Second, the speaker should not be using the stage as their own personal space to resolve their own issues or find closure. The speaker’s responsibility is to enlighten or inspire or entertain. If the speaker is crying, then the audience’s concern becomes focused on the speaker as opposed to how the speaker’s message impacts them.

Does this mean that you should never share emotion when on stage? No. But there are effective ways to share that emotion and ways that can leave your audience with the wrong message.

Remember the campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? Do you remember January 2008 in New Hampshire? As you may or may not be aware, Hillary Clinton gave a speech and she got choked up. No, tears were not streaming down her face, snot was not running out of her nose and by definition she was in no way “sobbing.” There is a big difference between sobbing and choked up. But since this event, Hillary Clinton has been criticized in many regards. Some say this “outburst of emotion” could have potentially lost her the election. Some say it was very calculated and that it was an attempt to tug at the heartstrings of America. Some say that it actually HELPED her in the campaign. Quite honestly, WHO KNOWS?!

All that aside, does it hurt to get “choked up?” Hillary was able to continue with her speech and share a message and yet we still see the clip of her watery eyes running on a constant loop. Personally, I was able to hear her words and understand her position. In my eyes and ears, she did her job. Were the tears a sign of a downhill electoral race? Were they a sign of a well calculated campaign? I don’t know. But I do know she did something that most people fear doing. She spoke.

Whether you agree with the politics of Clinton, Obama or even Bush, what one can’t deny is that it takes inner strength and passion to speak well in public. If you speak often enough, yes, times of watery eyes, blunders or even saying the wrong thing WILL happen. I can guarantee it! But as long as you do your very best to respect your audience and be true to yourself, plus a little toe-squeezing, I can promise you that the emotional speaking experience will be a great learning opportunity for you and your audience.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To find out more about how the coaching process can help YOU, please email me at heather@artfulspeaking.com.

Heather Racano
Artful Speaking


As a dynamic and inspirational leader in the field of public speaking and networking, Heather Racano can help make your next speaking opportunity COUNT! Heather is an award winning speaker and public speaking coach presenting programs North America wide on Artful Speaking and Artful Networking. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Heather_Racano

Share on Google Plus

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *