Tag Archives: public speaking

The fine art of public speaking

Bloganuary: What fear have you conquered?

When I was sixteen, I decided—somewhat out of the blue—that I couldn’t go through life being petrified of public speaking.

Because I was petrified. And I knew that other people would expect me to talk, especially as an adult. Because that’s what adults did. They talked.

So I joined our high school speech team.

Nearly every weekend during the season, I’d hop on a school bus and ride with my teammates to wherever that week’s tournament was. I’d read my piece three times. At the end of the day, I’d dissolve into a puddle.

At first, I was terrible. Really, really terrible. I’d rank the lowest in each of my rounds (a 5 on a scale of 1 – 5). I was okay with that because I wasn’t doing this to win a prize.

But a funny thing started to happen. By the season’s end, I was pulling in solid 3s each round, with a scattering of 4s or even a surprise 2.

The following year? I started at the 3 and 4 ranks and inched my way up. I earned an honorable mention at one of our big tournaments hosted by our rival high school and actually placed third in another.

I didn’t go to the state tournament, but then I didn’t want to. I’d accomplished what I set out to do, and I was no longer the participant everyone felt sorry for in each of my rounds.

And many years later, I wrote a novel based on these experiences.

Make no mistake: I still don’t like public speaking. You won’t see me joining Toastmasters any time soon. But I look back on that sixteen-year-old and marvel at how she could’ve been so prescient … and brave.

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