DON’T tell this story, says @KindraMHall. I’m not so sure. YOU decide [Video]

Person's throat with a sticker on it that says “crying blocked”If you’re like me (and most other people), you’re fascinated by stories.

As a speaker, stories also help you to connect with, to deeply engage, and even to transfix your audience.

But expert storyteller Kindra Hall has a stern warning for you:

“There is one story you should never tell
– the story that makes you cry”
Kindra Hall, at 0:05

She goes on to say:

“Crying in front of an audience
shows a lack of control and
is simply irresponsible
…You can tell I feel
strongly about that!”
Kindra Hall, at 1:35

I urge you to watch Kindra’s 5-minute video on this topic:

That’s the 3rd of Kindra’s videos I’ve shared, which shows how much I value her advice. Still, lately I’ve seen 2 videos (both of them from the TED world) that made me question this part of her message.

Below, you’ll find a short clip from those 2 talks. In both cases, the speaker cries. But I don’t think that detracts from their message. Far from it.

Please watch, then decide for yourself – would each message have been more effective without the tears?

The 1st is by Kate Bowler at TEDMED 2018. It’s called “Everything happens for a reason, and other lies I’ve loved” – this clip lasts about 1 minute:

The 2nd is by Lilia Tarawa at TEDx Christchurch. It’s called “I grew up in a cult. It was heaven, and hell” – this clip’s about 30 seconds:

Warning: This video is about severe corporal punishment of
young children (in the name of religious beliefs).

If you’d like to watch the whole talk in either case, you’ll find them below (uncut). I highly recommend them both.

The 1st is 15 minutes long:

The 2nd video is 20 minutes long in full:


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For me, these talks were far more engaging and powerful because the speakers cried. The tears were absolutely in keeping with the pain they felt and described.

With the 2nd video detailing corporal punishment of children – told with 1st-hand pain – I found Lilia’s talk about living in a Christian cult especially powerful.

So I think their outpouring of emotion made their talks more authentic, and made it easier to connect with them and their stories. Contrary to Kindra’s advice, I didn’t find myself concerned for the speakers’ welfare and therefore blocked from their message.

What’s your view – do the speakers’ tears weaken their talks, or are their messages more powerful as a result? I’d love to hear you perspective in the comments below.


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