Your Questions: Emotions and Speaking

Q. When I speak in audiences that are more family or friend oriented I tend to get a little more emotional.  Not crying but a little choked up.  Are there techniques to counter that?

A. It’s important to show your feelings in personal or emotional speaking situations, but as your question implies, you will want to manage those feelings so they don’t get in your way. First, if you are too close to the situation, you might decline or postpone the conversation. For example, I would have liked to speak at my mother’s memorial service, but I knew I wouldn’t be capable of it. So I shared my comments and stories in individual conversations with loved ones. Another solution is to think it through ahead of time so you know what you plan to say. In addition, you might rehearse the words a bit, and see if you feel a little less emotional after saying them a few times. Don’t memorize each word, just be comfortable with the words and the message. Once you are speaking, be sure to stay present in the NOW, rather than re-experiencing something or worrying about how others will react. Breathe at any point you feel emotional. Take a sip of water if you need to regroup a bit. And if emotions overtake you, just be honest about it, and ask the audience for a moment. They will understand.