Why Do I Get Emotional Every Time I Speak in Public?

     Though I am over on the extrovert side of the extrovert/introvert line, I am just barely over. I can turn on the conversationalist when I need to be and I absolutely love, love, love public speaking. It’s exciting for me, and in a way it allows me to share my story.
     A few weeks ago, a friend of mine from college posed a question on Facebook. “To all of you public speakers out there, how do you keep from getting emotional when you speak?” It’s a great question, especially for a guy like me. One thing none of you know, is that I almost always tear up when I speak. It’s something that has caused me a lot of self doubt, embarrassment and shame in my life.
     At one point in my life a mentor of mine and I were getting coffee. He knew me better than most people, and I highly respected what he had to say. “JB, you are an incredibly emotional person. And that’s ok. It’s the way you were created. You have spent a lot of your time an energy being ashamed of that aspect of yourself. What if, instead of being ashamed of it as if it were some sort of flaw, you began to embrace it as a part of who you are? As part of your story?”
     I’ll admit, the thought never entered my mind. Accept it? But that doesn’t make you a man. At least that’s what I thought. Oddly, I could have the same conversation  about that very item with someone one on one, and not cry. But in front of a group, well, ya. So why do I do it and why have I come to accept and welcome it? Let me share…
     I have come to realize that I get emotional, at least in that way, because I am passionate. I passionately believe and resonate deeply with what I am talking about. Casting vision, talking about a difficult road traveled, speaking on my life….they are all things that I am so passionate about, they are an out flowing of who I am. They are a part of my story. A part of me. And they have made me who I am now, which is why that particular group of people invited me to speak. For you, it may be different reasons why you get emotional. No matter why, it is still a part of you and your story.
     Donald Miller, founder of Storyline which helps people tell their story and an author of several books, posted this on Facebook the other day, “If you want to be the most courageous leader, just be vulnerable. Most “tough” leaders aren’t bold enough. You’ll stand out.” I think he’s right. Showing your emotion is showing that you are a real person. Showing your emotion is showing others who might be in the midst and mire of the same issues and mess  you are dealing/have dealt with, that they are not alone. I’m big on humanizing people, and allowing your emotions to come to the surface and be seen is simply allowing your humanity to show through.
     In the case of my friend who posed this question, he and his family have had a rough road. Their eldest son has a severe disability as a result of doctor malpractice. They have endless medical bills, endless appointments and still have to deal with the everyday struggles of life that we all have to. For him to cry or even simply tear up while in some form of public speaking, to me, allows everyone in the room to sit and contemplate the reality of the world we live in. To see that it isn’t all “I”m fine” or “It’s OK.” It allows space for them to recognize that we are all human. Out of this, true relational connection, grace and understanding what real peace is can all begin to grow.
     Be true to yourself, you’re the only one that can be.

2 thoughts on “Why Do I Get Emotional Every Time I Speak in Public?

  1. As a lady, and one of your past students in youth ministry, I was able to connect to what you were speaking at church when you got emotional. Now that my husband is in youth ministry I sometimes compare him to the other youth leaders (and you!) and tell him to try and tap into his passion in speaking and not be afraid to be emotional. But it’s not who he is as a person or speaker. He would be putting on a show from the stage, and the students would be able to see through that. Luckily, he has other ways of being a good speaker, but my main reason for commenting is that you and Iris had such a huge impact on me and how I see youth ministry or just ministry in general, and one of the characteristics I loved the most about you when you spoke, was when you would get emotional. I knew it was because you cared and were passionate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MarLana, man I miss you! Thanks for your encouraging comments and honesty! I’m thankful you and Joe are involved in ministry and, maybe even a bigger ministry to others-being true to yourselves!


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