Why Does Public Speaking Make You Cry?

crying while public speaking

The way public speaking is often shown in movies and dramas may make it seem like a very enticing and exciting experience. However, that might not be the reality for many. In fact for some people, it can be so dreadful that they might question “Why does public speaking make me cry?”

Public speaking, if defined in the most basic terms, is when you present a topic, opinion, or study to an audience either live or virtually. 

Since time immemorial, Public speaking has been a very important part of our lives. While initially we mainly used public speaking to communicate new messages or policies, the scope of public speaking now has grown tenfold. 

Public speaking today is not just a need but also an art

Why does public speaking matter in today’s world?

Public speaking is more or less a very crucial or integral part of our everyday life. Right from our early days in school as we present our fancy costumes to presenting the data in offices, public speaking is everywhere

A couple of reasons why public speaking matters a lot today are:

1. Way to share your ideas

The most common reason why we see everyone around us promoting public speaking is that it is one of the best ways to share your ideas and opinions on a certain topic to a considerably large number of people and offer a different point of view. 

2. Helps you Make connections

Meeting new people and making connections happen to be very important for both your personal as well as professional growth.

In terms of personal growth, public speaking exposes you to a lot of new ideas and perspectives and from a professional standpoint, Public speaking allows you to meet individuals from either your field or different fields, further helping you excel in your career.

3. In-demand skill

Public speaking is one of the most in-demand skills. Even if the job description doesn’t mention the skill particularly, most of the jobs require you to either present your results or data to at least a small group of clients or your team members. 

But this doesn’t mean that being extremely good at public speaking is an absolute necessity.

Fear of public speaking is real and believe it or not very common. It is believed that about 75% of people across the world are to some extent afraid of public speaking.

And if you happen to be one of the many people who have asked themselves either one of these questions:

  • Why does public speaking make me cry?
  • Why do I feel like crying when public speaking?

Then don’t worry we have got you covered. 

There are two situations when you might ask yourself

“Why does public speaking make me cry?”

There are two very situations wherein you are more likely to end up crying while public speaking. They are:

  1. When you are so scared or anxious about speaking in front of a crowd.
  2. When the situation or speech is very emotional.

Public speaking anxiety, or glossophobia, affects about 73% of the population according to The National Institute of Mental Health.

Let’s first talk about the case when you might end up crying because the thought of speaking in front of the public makes you very anxious. 

Why is public speaking stressful?

Public speaking can be stressful especially when we start thinking about all the negative possibilities. What do we mean by that?

Be honest and answer this question,

How many times before presenting have you thought to yourself, “But what if I forget my speech?” Or “What if everyone gets bored of the speech or hates it?”

Fear is a very strange emotion. While to some it can extend it can motivate you to give your level best; at times, the fear could surpass to a level that it may start hindering your emotions. This is when it takes the form of anxiety. 

Can public speaking cause anxiety?

Yes, Public speaking can make some people very anxious, and again it is very common.

Public speaking anxiety also known as glossophobia can look like pre-stage nervousness for one person while for another it may involve a complete breakdown.

Some of the symptoms of glossophobia include sweating, racing heartbeat, trembling, forgetfulness, or going blank while public speaking. 

So, what type of anxiety is public speaking?

Public speaking anxiety or glossophobia is a form of social anxiety disorder.

Where does the fear of public speaking come from?

Fear of public speaking mostly has its roots in the fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by the audience. However, it isn’t limited to this and can have different triggers for different people.

Let’s look at some of the many causes or triggers that can escalate an individual’s public speaking anxiety.

What are the causes of public speaking anxiety?

If you have asked yourself why does public speaking make me cry? but had no answers for it, then you might want to check out the list of reasons below and try to figure out if it relates to you. 

1. Fear of being judged

One of the most popular reasons why public speaking might scare people is because of the fear of being judged.

Speaking in front of an audience means that you would be exposing your opinions and ideologies to a large set of people with their own unique set of thoughts. This also means that not everyone will agree with your thoughts and your speech or presentation might also attract some criticism.

Being criticized or judged negatively is not a pleasant feeling and we may want to avoid it. But when you realize that others’ opinions of your presentation or topic don’t have to do anything with you, at that point, you might set yourself free from this fear of public speaking.

2. Fear of going blank

Another fear closely related to the fear of being judged is the fear of going blank. Going blank in front of a huge crowd or even a small audience can be very embarrassing and the thought of being in that situation might be very scary.

In such instances, navigating your negative thoughts to more neutral thoughts can be quite helpful. Besides, practicing enough or to the point where the content of your speech or presentation flows smoothly can help in gaining some confidence in your public speaking.

3. Audience

At times, even your perception of your audience might make you apprehensive about public speaking. This happens when we paint an out-of-the-world picture of the audience in our minds.

It is very common to do so in cases when we feel the audience is too large or that it is made up of too high a status or intellectual people

4. Lack of preparation

Yet another and the most obvious reason that is bound to make you a tad bit anxious is your lack of preparation. 

Procrastinating happens to be a habit most of us are victims of. And while we can manage deadlines when it comes to school or work, things are very different in the case of public speaking. Last-minute preparation will not only ruin your public speaking experience but it will confuse you to a point where you might end up feeling like crying. 

5. Past experiences

Try to go back down memory lane and think about the time you messed it up while public speaking. Did you go blank/ did your PowerPoint not work as it was supposed to? or Did you miss out on a couple of topics while giving the speech? or Did you cross the time limit? 

Having a memory of any terrible experience with public speaking may come in the way of your next public speaking experiences and may also be the reason why public speaking makes you cry.

6. Comparison

Have you ever listened to some other speaker present their speech or topic and wondered to yourself “How can I ever do better than him/her?”

Such comparisons and thoughts are very limiting. They make you question your public speaking abilities, thus making you more anxious while presenting your topic. 

If you are facing similar situations, we would suggest you take deep breaths and revisit a self-motivating script to make yourself realize your own strengths. 

The script can be as simple as “I have prepared well for the speech and I am going to do amazing!”

How do you overcome your fear of public speaking?

Overcoming your fear of public speaking can seem like a huge task but the good news is that it can be tackled quite efficiently with some effort.

Here are a few ways in which you can try to overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Choose a topic you love

The reason we advise you to choose a topic you love is that when you are genuinely passionate about a topic, you might be able to speak about it more candidly and openly.

Your love or knowledge of the topic will be quite evident in the way you present your topic. And in the worst case, if you end up forgetting your script or lose your thoughts while public speaking, you can still navigate through the rest of your speech or presentation as you already have gained enough understanding of the topic. 

2. Get Organized

The next thing that is very conveniently overlooked is the importance of getting organized. Now getting organized can mean different things to different people. It may include getting organized with your speech or script or it may involve getting organized in terms of setting up the stage with props. 

When it comes to the script, chronologically framing your content can help in better recall. The other way you can try to work on your recall is by color coding or highlighting the lines in a certain way. Such visuals would also help you in remembering the flow and thus would reduce the chances of you freezing on stage. 

On the other hand, getting organized in terms of the way you look and the way you format the visuals be it your ppts or props would help you in navigating while public speaking. 

3. Prepare for questions

If questions from the audience members are what scares you the most, then prepare for the probable questions as well.

How do you do that?

Go through your topic, and try to figure out what are the most likely questions that the audience may have in their mind. You can also check out videos of other people who have presented on similar topics and see the questions that people have asked them. 

4. Prepare for uncertainties

Yet another thing you can do is just accept the fact that despite trying your level best, you might not have control over various situations and thus be prepared for uncertainties. 

No, you don’t have to make an entire list of all possible things that could go wrong while public speaking!

Just accept and acknowledge the fact that you have already taken a look into everything that you have control over and let go of the worries surrounding anything beyond that.

5. Use Psychological Hacks

To get a quick idea about psychological hacks, check out the video below.

Another way of dealing with your fear of public speaking is by navigating your thoughts in a way that your fear is brought down to considerably lower levels. You can do so by using certain psychological hacks and here are a couple of ways to use them!

a. Prime yourself

Just like we can think ourselves into negative emotions and sometimes even panic, we can also try to prime ourselves towards feeling a more positive or at least a neutral emotion.

But priming requires effort. You cannot just simply at one point think a more neutral thought and the very next moment start thinking about a situation that would elicit anxiety-causing thoughts. You will have to be persistent in your thinking to eventually prime yourself against the fear of public speaking.

b. Emotion conversion rule

Did you know that the emotions you feel when you are afraid or something are similar to the ones you feel when you are excited?

Your heart rate increases and you feel out of breath, sound familiar?

That is exactly what you need to know to successfully use the emotion conversion rule effectively.

Understanding and shifting your perception of what you are feeling from an unpleasant emotion to a pleasant one. So in our case, you may say that you aren’t really feeling anxious about public speaking; you are just excited to be speaking in front of such a wonderful audience!

c. Brendon Burchard Rule

Brendon Burchard very rightly says that whenever we are faced with any situation, we first start by thinking of the worst possible scenario.

Just try to recall what were your parent’s first thoughts when you started driving the car for the first time. In most of the cases, it would’ve been “what if you get into a car crash?”

The same is true for public speaking too. We often start thinking and imagining scenarios where we are either struggling or going completely blank while public speaking.

Instead, we can try to jot down a list of all the possible positive or good outcomes of us presenting that particular topic could.

6. Practice

I know you might have heard this like a gazillion times now, but listen to it. Practicing your material to a point where it flows very smoothly will help you in gaining confidence and make you more thorough with your material. 

The best way to practice is to record yourself. The reason for that is very simple, you can then go back to the recording and understand where you are going wrong. 

7. Take a public speaking class

If nothing works, try to get a professional’s help and enroll yourself in a public speaking class. They can help you identify areas where you can improve and also provide you with timely guidance and constant feedback.

If you are seeking a professional’s help, check out our services here

If this bit hasn’t satiated your hunger to know more about techniques to beat your fear of public speaking, check out our blog on 9 deadly practical techniques to calm your fear of public speaking.

How do you not cry while public speaking?

Now while we looked at things you can do before you go on the stage, what if your fear shows up out of nowhere while you are giving your speech?

Here are a couple of things you can do to overcome your fear while you are on stage and avoid crying.

1. Acknowledge your fear

Merely acknowledging your fear when you are speaking in front of an audience can help you understand how you might want to go about from that point on. You can choose to take a moment for yourself. You can do that by taking a pause and gathering your thoughts before you continue with your speech again.

2. Pretend to maintain eye-contact

Another reason why you might get very anxious while on stage is when you have to make eye contact with people. In such cases, what you can do is just pretend that you are maintaining an eye-contact with people.

How did you do that?

Simple, try to look at people’s foreheads. This gives an illusion to your audience that you are indeed maintaining an eye-contact when you are actually not!

3. Slow down your pace of speaking

Often when we start panicking while public speaking, our pace of speaking quickens. And the best thing to do in such a scenario is to consciously start speaking slowly.

Speaking slowly will ground you and make you a little calmer while public speaking. It can also give you a little more time to gather your thoughts as you speak.

Why do I get emotional when public speaking?

Getting emotional while public speaking is a little different from crying while public speaking. While the latter has its basis in fear, the former could be because the content of your speech or the situation where you are presenting is so personal to you.

In fact, getting emotional while giving wedding speeches or farewell speeches is very common and even acceptable.

How to not cry during a wedding speech?

Emotional bride giving a speech

Wedding speeches can be very emotional for everyone; be it the couple who is giving them or the family or friends. A few things you can do to avoid crying at a wedding speech are:

1. De-personalize your speech

Often, we tend to get emotional while giving speeches because we add so many stories that are very close to us and may make us emotional while giving the speech. So instead, you can try to add more general stories about the individual, ones that are shared by other family and friends present at the wedding.

2. Desensitize yourself

If you still want to add personal stories (which by the way is understandable), try to repeat the speech so many times that you de-sensitize yourself to the content of your speech. In simple terms say it so many times that you no longer feel so emotional when you have to give the speech.

3. Take a moment

As we have already mentioned in the blog above, you can always take a moment to gather yourself or your thoughts before you start speaking again. And if you still feel emotional, you can try the next idea.

4. Focus on strong and supportive members

We tend to make the mistake of looking at individuals who get emotional too quickly. And when you are also on the emotional slippery slope, try to focus on family members who you know will stay strong and support you through their expressions.

How to not cry during graduation?

Graduating students

1. Take a moment

Take a moment to acknowledge what you are feeling. Pause for a while. You can even address it to the audience by saying something like “I’ll just need a minute, I guess seeing you guys from here made me a little emotional.”

2. Remind yourself that you will meet them again

If the thought of parting ways with your friends and faculty is what is making you emotional, then try to remind yourself that you can still meet them and stay in touch with them post graduating.

3. Focus on audience members you don’t know personally

Another very helpful thing you can do is focus on students or faculty members in the audience who you don’t really know.

You might not feel as emotional giving the speech to a group of students you barely walked past as compared to giving the same speech to your friends, right?

Why do I sound like I’m crying while public speaking?

One of the reasons why you might sound like you are crying while public speaking could be because your voice might be a little shaky.

Again, fear of public speaking could make your voice shaky. Or make it seem like you are crying when you are actually not!

To know more about why you shiver or shake while public speaking, check out the video below.

How do I stop my voice from shaking while public speaking?

To stop your voice from shaking while public speaking, one of the most obvious pieces of advice we would give you is, any guesses?

Practice. (did you guess it right?)

Practicing more and performing more can more you immune to your fear of public speaking.

Yet another way to cope with a shaky voice is to focus on the audience and not their opinion of you as a speaker. What we mean by this is that you must focus on how your speech moves the audience. And not on how their possible opinion of you affects your speech.

Besides these, you can try taking deep breaths, slowing down your pace, and drinking some water while on stage.

Final Words

Fear of public speaking can at times take such intense forms that it may make you feel like crying. Other reasons could be because of your lack of preparation, comparison with other speakers, audience, or even past experiences.

But there are things that you can do to not feel so bad that you end up asking yourself “Why does public speaking make me cry?”. You can do so by acknowledging your fear, choosing a topic you love, preparing for uncertainties, using psychological hacks, practicing, and more.

Finally to overcome your fear of public speaking, remind yourself that you must focus on the audience and not their opinion of you.

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