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.