Aristotle was a mean man. Argumentative wisdom – logos – wasn’t enough for him. Not even a credible character – ethos – could clench his rhetorical thirst. He demanded more from us speakers. He also claimed pathos, the emotional appeal.
All of us harbor positive and not so positive emotions. While appreciation and love will make us smile, sorrow and grief can make us cry. Great public speakers know how to juggle all feelings. They take us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. One second we laugh like Jack Nicholson, the next split second we need a Kleenex.
In my speech repertoire I shelter one untold story. I keep this speech for a special occasion. The message is friendship, friendship, friendship. But the path leading to this message passes a valley of guilt, despair and regret. Every time I practice this speech under the shower, the water becomes salty.
Mark Hunter from Australia is the World Champion of Public Speaking 2009. I asked him: “Mark, can I cry on stage?” I don’t remember the exact wording of his answer, but it was something like, “If you are true to yourself and it comes from the bottom of your heart, why shouldn’t you cry?”
Just like all-star comic Anthony Griffith did in this extremely moving story:
Aristotle was a smart man. He knew well that emotions, especially the difficult ones, connect best with your audience. Don’t be afraid to share them on stage. Don’t be afraid to cry on stage.