Rise Performance Group

When Is It Okay for a Leader to Cry When Presenting?


It was a powerful moment…when Kenny Chesney cried.

After years on tour, he decided to take some time off to focus on his music. And so as he found himself on the stage in Indianapolis for his final concert, the intense connection with the crowd and the realization that a chapter in his life was about to close suddenly hit him. His powerful voice, in that moment, could find no words.

And then an amazing thing happened – the crowd sang for him.

It was a golden moment for Kenny and everyone in the audience. And with over 700,000 hits on YouTube, it continues to strike a chord.

Kenny Chesney has had an impressive career thus far, with 15 albums, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher. He has also produced more than 30 Top Ten singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 22 of which climbed to the top of the charts. Chesney has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. He has been honored with numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, American Music Awards, Country Music Television, Billboard Music Awards, and People’s Choice Awards.

But it could very well be that his greatest moment – the moment for which he will be most remembered – was the moment he couldn’t sing.

In today’s world, “real” stands out. And Kenny is real. His audience knows he cares about them and values their contribution to his success. This authenticity connects and underlies his influence in the country music industry.

Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, comments: “Influence strengthens when followers feel a person really cares. Caring is an emotion that creates motion.”



Bob Kaplitz offers perspective:  “Also, people respond emotionally to a person who’s transparent – and not afraid to let their vulnerability show. It’s another way they grow their influence – and, in this case, their audience.”

Comments posted on YouTube about the video include:  “A man that can cry is a real man!!”  Also, “Nothing but a genuine artist with genuine music, my favorite in country music hands down.”  Again, “genuine” and “real” speak to important leadership qualities.

Have you ever connected with your audience at such a deep level that you – or they – felt the proverbial lump in the throat? When that happens, it indicates that what you are saying has resonated deeply with them.

While we are not suggesting you lose your voice and depend on your audience to finish your next business presentation, we are strongly suggesting you seek to be real. Some of the greatest business leaders of our time were also some of the most genuine in their speeches and presentations. Steve Jobs is an outstanding example of this authenticity.

Bob Kaplitz advises:  “Hold off on the singing unless you’re as good as Kenny Chesney, but look for stories that help you make your point – connecting you to your audience.”

Learn to be a leader with influence. Brush up on your leadership skills or develop those of your employees.  Transforming people into leaders improves both the bottom and top lines.  Learn how.  Contact Mark Fenner at 469.293.6198 or markf@risepg.com.


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